What a year it’s been, culminating with the last-minute General Election that put everyone in a tizz. Let’s blitz through the year that was in our last blog post of 2019.
The Year in Review
We saw many disruptive changes in 2019 that still have people reeling. The first is the Tenancy Fees Ban. The data is in: the rents are higher in London because more landlords are selling. If they are not selling, they are not keeping their properties tenanted, waiting for the market to pick up in the new year before they sell. This is a bad long-term outcome for both tenants and landlords.
For me personally 2019 has been a year in which I witnessed a number of ethical, independent agents leaving the industry. Management is a thankless task; when things goes right, no praise is given. It’s only when things go wrong that there is an uproar, and agents are often caught in the middle of problems. With reduced incomes, it’s no surprise to me that it’s those agents who do everything right that have either sold up or closed down. Of course, there were other reasons for these agents to close, but their leaving the sector impacts tenants and landlords in the long term as the choice of agents is reduced.
Most of the expected changes came through, as summarised in the blog, Legislative Update – Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019. The mandatory electrical safety check will likely come in for 2020, while the key change will be the extension of the Tenancy Fees Ban and fitness standards that will cover a greater number of tenancies.
PRS after the General Election
In December, the Conservatives won their biggest majority at Westminster since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 election victory. Most parties had inserted anti-landlord measures into their manifestos, including the Conservatives. The Conservatives promised a ‘better deal’ for tenants, and planned to achieve this by scrapping section 21. Their promise also included a lifetime deposit, addressing revenge evictions, a reform of the leasehold sector, supporting more first-time buyers and building new homes.
Last week’s Queen’s Speech included a brief mention of the Renters’ Reform Bill that will end section 21 while also reforming section 8 and the court process. As mentioned in our previous blog, Abolishing Section 21, it’s best not to panic, as the changes expected are now rumoured to take more than two years to come into effect. Then there is the fact that a bill is merely a document which can change dramatically over the course of it being debated; we simply do not know what the finalised bill will contain.
Until then, we remind you of the need to be highly vigilant about the type of tenants you give contracts to and reiterate that having professional help from agents like us will ensure you are fully protected in the future.