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Property Inspections

Estate agents can enter homes to carry out inspections, the guidance recommends one person visiting at any one time. For us through this lockdown we have found virtual inspections have been very beneficial, we have still managed to obtain inspections from a large portion of our tenants.

 

Property Viewings

All viewings must be by appointment only, virtual viewings are still recommended by the government. At CB Estates all of our properties that go live have a video walkthrough of the property, this means that potential applicants can get a better feel for the property by seeing the video prior to viewing it in person.

 

The evictions ban in England has been extended for a further six weeks, meaning that evictions will not be enforced by bailiffs until 31 March 2021 at the earliest, with the measures to be kept under review in line with the latest public health advice. Exceptions remain in place for the most "serious cases", including illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of at least 6 months rent.

This is a continuation of the government's measures to protect tenants during lockdown, alongside the previously announced six-month notice periods, currently in place until at least 31 March 2021. 

The new court rules and procedures that were introduced in September in 2021 will remain in place, with the courts continuing to prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation, and perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector". The government also launched its free mediation pilot in February, "to support landlords and tenants to resolve disputes before a formal court hearing takes place". 

"Our measures strike the right balance between protecting tenants and enabling landlords to exercise their right to justice," said Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP. "By extending the ban on the enforcement of evictions by bailiffs, in all but the most serious cases, we are ensuring renters remain protected during this difficult time."

The Government has recently announced that millions of leaseholders will be given the right to extend their lease by a maximum term of 990 years at zero ground rent as part of the biggest reforms to English property law for many years

What are the changes?

Under the current law, many people face high ground rents and Freeholders can increase the amount of ground rent with little or no benefit seen to the owners of the property who hold the lease. It can also create problems and lead to increased costs when buying or selling the property.

Leaseholders of houses can only currently extend their lease once for 50 years with ground rent. This compares to leaseholders of flats who can extend as often as they wish at a zero ‘peppercorn’ ground rent for 90 years. These changes mean both house and flat leaseholders will now be able to extend their lease to a new standard of 990 years with a ground rent at zero.

These changes will mean that any leaseholder who chooses to extend their lease on their home will no longer pay any ground rent to the freeholder.

A cap will also be introduced on ground rent payable when a leaseholder chooses to either extend their lease or become the freeholder.  The Government will soon be introducing an online calculator to make it simpler for leaseholders to find out how much it will cost them to buy their freehold or extend their lease.

On 8th January, Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced a further extension to the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions for private renters in England which comes into force on 11 January. The current restrictions were due to end on Monday following a month-long ban over the Christmas period. The new extension will be until 21 February and reviewed regularly.

There are exemptions to the regulations which include:

  • Illegal occupation
  • False statement
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant
  • Extreme rent arrears (equivalent to six months’ rent with any arrears accrued since 23 March discounted)

The UK Government has now approved The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021 and has released updated guidance to reflect a return to a national lockdown and the extension of the ban on bailiff enforcement.

Consultation is now open on the government's proposals to further strengthen the current rules on smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in both social and private rented accommodation. The proposals include requiring social landlords to ensure at least one smoke alarm is installed on each storey of a building where any rooms are used as living accommodation; requiring carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted alongside the installation of fixed combustion appliances of any fuel type; and requiring private and social landlords to install carbon monoxide alarms in any room used as living accommodation where a fixed combustion appliance is used. The consultation will last until 11 January 2021.

There are 3 main proposals

A requirement for social landlords to install smoke alarms on each storey of a building

Since 2015, private sector landlords have been required to install at least one smoke alarm in rooms used either wholly or partly as living accommodation and ensure that the alarms are in working order at the start of each tenancy under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. A review of the regulations in 2018 found that they had had “a positive impact on the number of alarms installed” and also suggested the regulations should be expanded to cover both the private and social rented sector. Under the proposals, social landlords will also be required to ensure that there is at least one smoke alarm installed on each storey of a building where there are any rooms used wholly or partly as living accommodation and ensure that the alarms are in proper working order on the first day of each new tenancy.

A requirement for the installation of carbon monoxide alarms at the same time as the installation of a fixed combustion appliances of any fuel type

Since 2015, private sector landlords have been required to install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid-fuel burning appliance. As with smoke alarms, the regulations also require private landlords to ensure the alarms are in working order at the start of each tenancy. Under the proposals, the statutory guidance would be amended so that carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted upon the installation of fixed combustion appliances of any fuel type (excluding gas cookers). These requirements apply to installations in new and existing homes regardless of whether they are private or social rented accommodation or owned.

A requirement for the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in any room with a fixed combustion appliances of any fuel type

In addition to proposing that carbon monoxide alarms be installed at the same time as the installation of fixed combustion appliances, an amendment to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 is being proposed that would require both private and social landlords to install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where there is a fixed combustion appliance of any fuel type (excluding gas cookers). The regulations will not include owner-occupiers, although it is recommended that homeowners install carbon monoxide alarms, too. As with smoke alarms, landlords would be required to ensure alarms are in working order on the first day of each new tenancy. 

 

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