What a strange and tumultuous year we had. In the wake of the Tier 4 announcement, let us instead focus our sights towards the new year and some key dates for landlords in 2021. Although nobody can predict the future, being prepared will help to navigate these uncertain times.
Pet Discrimination bill: At the end of this month, there will be a second reading of the Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill. This is the bill that seeks to outlaw pet discrimination by landlords. If this becomes law, tenants will have the right to own a pet, but will need to prove that they are responsible owners – eg, by completing a checklist for dogs and providing a vet certificate, etc.
Our view – tensions do exist for landlords fearful of damage caused by pets, especially as they will be unable to take the extra deposit as they did before the Tenancy Fees Ban came in. However, this Bill is a progressive step as there are many responsible pet owners.
Eviction legislation will change: Due to the pandemic, landlords’ obligation on notices ballooned from two months to three, then to six months. This arrangement ends on 31st and presumably, the notice will revert to the original two months.
Stamp Duty Holiday: There has been industry interest in its extension as many local searches are being delayed due to the pandemic. However, the holiday ends on 31st. Some research has suggested that 1/3 of buyers will pull out if they cannot benefit from this.
Our view – if you have a sales progression going now, do not assume that you can meet the deadline. Sellers and buyers should keep their eye on the ball to make sure they exchange and complete well before this date.
Immediately after 31st March, 1st April has a number of deadlines.
Help to Buy: The government’s equity loan scheme will change criteria; only first-time buyers will benefit. This scheme drove home sales in the last few years and we will see how it fares thereafter. Developers will be under much pressure.
Overseas buyer tax: This was a long time coming. Buyers normally not resident in the UK will be levied an extra 2% in stamp duty on homes in England and Northern Ireland. This is on top of the 3% surcharge they would pay if they already own a home anywhere in the world.
Electrical Safety Certificate: From the 1st April, all existing properties are required to have a certificate or you will face fines (up to £30,000). Electrician availability can become a major concern if you leave it too late, so better to action sooner than later.
Furlough Scheme: The government’s extended scheme is expected to end on the 1st, bringing the risk of higher unemployment and lower earnings, which are historically linked to housing market activity.
Our view – the pandemic means that the UK national debt is at record levels and taxes are expected to rise. One obvious area is a wealth tax on assets, including property. A perfect storm is on the way between the short-term impact of Brexit and underlying economic weakness until a vaccine is rolled out en masse.
Right to Rent: The Brexit negotiation is not over as of this publication, but as things stand, the Right to Rent check is expected to change by this month as the Home Office will bring in a points-based system from 1st January.
Our view – many EU citizens already have a ‘right to work’ that is verifiable via the new government online system. However, note that ‘right to work’ is not the same as ‘right to rent’, and landlords and agents must continue to check passports or national ID.
Section 21: We’ve written in the past about the abolition of Section 21. Currently, the landlord has no-fault eviction rights with a notice period of six months. With the courts overwhelmed with backlog since the first lockdown, and no alternative property court in sight, this might be pushed back but it could be implemented in a surprising way in 2021 – we just don’t know. Nothing is certain these days. Landlords with a plan to move back into their property need to have a think about the timing of their existing tenancy.
On behalf of everyone at Marybow Property, may I take the opportunity to say thank you for all your support this year. Whether you are a client or a silent supporter who reads our blogs, you’ve given us another great year, despite the lockdowns. We were able to stay busy and open throughout and we couldn’t have done this without your interest in us. I hope you all have a restful Christmas and stay safe. Here is to (hopefully) a brighter 2021.
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* Disclaimer: The information on Marybow Property website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication.
Originally published in https://marybowproperty.com/blog/dates-to-watch-in-2021/.