Essential Landlord Update: October 2018

Next week could be scary for landlords!

No, we don’t mean Halloween… It’s time for the Budget, and landlords are worried they’re going to see more regulation.

More on that below, but first your monthly landlord update.

Database of Rogue Landlords Completely Empty

The Government has compiled a list of landlords who knowingly flout their legal obligations in order to “crack down” on “rogue landlords”… Except it hasn’t.

The list – which the Government refused to make public – has been shown to be empty, not containing a single name six months after it was announced.

Meanwhile, landlords who are known criminal offenders have been found still renting properties: often to vulnerable tenants claiming benefits.

After several Freedom of Information requests by ITV and the Guardian, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government was forced to admit the list is in fact totally empty, with no landlords named.

Tenant Fees Bill Progress

The Bill to make charging tenants fees illegal has passed through its Second Reading in the House of Lords.

Baroness Grender made us all blush, mentioning OpenRent as an example of a company who had already decided not to rip tenants off with huge agency fees, and quoting our research that 64% of landlords support the Bill.

(Want to have your say? Vote in the poll!)

The third (and final) reading of the Bill is on 5th November, so plenty of time to think of a good Guy Fawkes joke.

The Bill is expected to be in force by mid-2019, putting an end to decades of tenants being charged an average of £300 in tenancy fees.

What can landlords expect to be in the Budget?

Three-Year Tenancies. Dead or Alive?

This was a policy mooted a few months ago that got a mixed reception, and was finally slapped down by a Treasury worried about lack of investment in the Private Rented Sector.

But the problem hasn’t simply disappeared. Thousands of families are living a precarious existence in 6-month fixed-term rented accommodation.

Will the Government give up on this policy altogether without attempting to solve the problem? If it doesn’t see a ghostly resurrection in this Halloween Budget, then we can assume it’s been killed off forever.

Tax Breaks for Landlords Selling to Long-Term Tenants

Conservative thinktank ‘Onward’ put out a policy idea at the start of the month that received wide coverage.

Why not, they suggested, give landlords a tax incentive if they sell their properties to tenants who had lived in them for several years? Onward want landlords to receive 100% capital gains relief if buy-to-let properties were opened up to the first-time buyer market.

When combined with the fact that most renters are first-time buyers, who don’t have to pay stamp duty, the policy could instigate a flash sale of rental stock as renters and landlords look to activate their new tax incentives.

Councils to Be Allowed to Build More Social Housing

One of the biggest bits of news to come from the Conservative Party Conference may be one of the least reported. Bear with me while I explain!

The new plans would see councils able to borrow money to build new social housing. They would pay it back with rental incomes from the below-market rents tenants would pay when the housing is in occupation.

What does this mean for you? In the coming years there could be an increase in social housing supply that would mop up many tenants at the lower end of the market.

That could mean two things: firstly, an easing up of demand for privately rented housing; secondly, a change in the demographic of those renting. With more social housing available, the proportion of renters on lower incomes could drop, which would push the PRS up market.

Notable Replies

  1. Hi Sam,

    I’m not sure if I’m both deaf and blind, but I don’t recall seeing anything property related in the budget. Please advise both myself and all your readers whether there was anything in the budget concerning the PRS or not.

    Mike.

  2. Sam says:

    Hi Mike, no there was very little in there that relates to housing. I wouldn’t take this as meaning the PRS has fallen down the agenda, however. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at the moment e.g. in the Lords or at the committee level, but no new major measures in the Budget this time.

Continue the discussion on the OpenRent Community

Participants