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The UK government has been updating guidance and releasing plans for future legislation that will affect multiple areas of the lettings market.
Here’s a summary of the most recent updates.
Damp and mould guidance
Firstly, the government has released guidance for landlords on how to manage issues of damp and mould in properties.
This responds to the Coroner’s 'prevention of future deaths' report following the death of a 2-year-old in 2020, due to mould in the home.
According to this guidance, tenants’ “lifestyle choices” can no longer be blamed for causing damp and mould.
Another “How to rent” guide update
A second update of the “How to rent” guide is expected in the coming weeks.
Following an update in March, which contained new information about carbon monoxide rules.
This version will provide more information about the legal advice that tenants can access regarding housing and possessions.
Consumer rights of tenants to be investigated
Furthermore, the Competition and Markets Authority will be investigating five areas of concern around the rights of tenants.
This includes clarity over fees for deposit alternatives, guarantee clauses that exclude some tenants, and unlawful discrimination.
As well as providing better guidance around the topics raised, this may also lead to enforcement action in the future.
No update on Renters (Reform) Bill in England
Despite this activity, the Renters (Reform) Bill is still awaiting its second reading as it passes through Parliament.
The likelihood of this being achieved before the King's Speech on 7 November, as previously suggested, seems unlikely.
Subsequently, questions around what is taking the bill so long to reach the next stage have been raised.
Court solution for abandoned tenancies requested
The government has been pushed by leading membership body, Propertymark, to release better guidance and legislation to support landlords whose properties are abandoned by tenants.
While this is pre-empting the abolition of section 21, there is currently little clarity on how possession cases will be prioritised.
Given the current state of the UK property sector, it is more important than ever to "bring such homes back into circulation with urgency”, according to Tim Thomas, Propertymark's Policy and Campaigns Officer.
Licences on short-term lets required from October
From 1 October 2023, all landlords operating a short-term let property in Scotland will need to apply for a licence from their local council.
Applications could take up to 12 months to process and will be required for each property individually.
System of long-term rent controls
The temporary rent cap in Scotland is expected to end in March 2024.
However, the government has now committed to bringing in a "System of long-term rent controls" instead.
The draft strategy, "A New Deal for Tenants", suggests some of the approaches they may take.
Agents should keep an eye on how this develops, as Scottish policy has often been a precursor for the rest of the UK.
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