5 New Legislation Changes this Spring

In addition to the EU Fifth Money Laundering Directive coming into force next week, there will be five spring legislative changes according to the
National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA):

Extension of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act – in March
The original Act – which means landlords or agents acting on their behalf can be forced to carry out improvement works to properties or risk being sued – is being extended from March 20 this year to include existing statutory periodic tenancies. Until that date it applies only to tenants who signed contracts on or after 20 March 2019. 

This legislation applies in England only – with responsibility for these standards in Wales falling under the scope of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards – in April 
From April 1, ALL existing tenancies will fall in line with the existing law introduced in 2018, whereby landlords or their agents cannot let to new tenants unless it has an EPC rating of E or better.

This means that anyone whose rentals have F or G ratings will no longer be able to legally let them out.

Landlords will be expected to pay up to £3,500 towards energy efficiency improvement works. However, if work will cost more than that landlords can apply for an exemption.”

Capital Gains Tax changes – in April
Until now, CGT has been paid on profits made through the sale of any property that isn’t the owner’s principal home; owners can also seek lettings relief (a tax break) if they once lived in the non-principal home themselves.

From April this is scrapped and landlords will only be able to claim lettings relief if they share the property with their tenant.
Also from April, landlords will need to pay the full amount of CGT owed on a sale within 30 days. At the moment they have until the next tax year.

Mandatory CMP for agents – from April
New rules on money laundering have been extended to cover letting agents, with an April 2020 deadline for agents to join an official Client Money Protection scheme – this marks the end of a 12 month grace period agreed following technical problems over the original 2019 deadline.

Extension of the Tenant Fees Act – in June
Letting agents have, since last June, been banned from charging fees other than rents, deposits, holding deposits and charges for defaulting on contracts – but this has, until now, applied only for new tenants. From June this year, 2020, it applies to all existing tenancies.

Deposits are already limited to a maximum of five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is below £50,000 for any new or replacement tenancy. If the annual rent is above this, the maximum is six weeks, with holding deposits limited to a week.

Where a banned fee has been taken, tenants will be able to get money back via the county court. Landlords could be fined up to £5,000 for a first offence, and £30,0000 for subsequent breaches. 

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MPs to consider amendments to Housing and Planning Bill today

03 Jun 2019

MPs will offer their reaction to Lords amendments to the Housing and Planning Bill this afternoon, which may take a while given that there have been 13 outright government defeats on the bill, as well as a number of equally significant concessions made by ministers to avoid defeat.

Various issues will be discussed, including planning regulations, estate agents, compulsory purchase and environmental standards for homes and drainage, as well as the rather sensitive ‘pay to stay’ provisions, which require people on higher incomes to pay higher rent, if they want to remain in social housing, and the plan to finance social housing tenants’ right to buy, by selling off high value council properties.

The government’s plan to extend Right to Buy discounts to 1.3 million housing association tenants, which was last week described as “entirely speculative” by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will also be discussed.

Publishing its findings last week, the PAC highlighted a lack of clarity around how the policy would be funded or what its wider financial impact would be.

PAC chair Meg Hillier said the government should be “embarrassed” by the report’s findings.

“Extending Right to Buy will affect many thousands of people yet the department has failed to provide basic information to support its stated aims. Instead we have heard vague assertions about what it will accomplish and how,” she said.

“The approach to paying for this policy seems to be entirely speculative. On the basis of evidence heard by our committee, there are no costings or workings out. We are not talking about a ‘back of an envelope’ calculation – there is no envelope at all.”

This government Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 13 October 2015 and completed its stages in the Commons on 12 January 2015.

The Bill then went to the House of Lords for consideration and this was completed on 27 April 2016.

So today MPs will consider the Lords Amendments of the Housing and Planning Bill before voting on the issue.

Intriguingly, this will be the first ping-pong vote held under the new English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) system, which will mean that, to be accepted, any Lords amendment will need a “double majority” of both all MPs present, and of MPs for English constituencies.

Once the Commons and Lords agree on the final version of the Bill, it can receive Royal Assent and become an Act of Parliament.

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