The regulatory landscape continues to change for buy-to-let landlords, placing more emphasis on quality specialist advice to help a property investor to make the right choices.
Buy to Let landlords have become used to dealing with new regulations in recent years and 2018 is no different, with the introduction of new guidelines for the energy performance of rented properties and a roll-out in the licencing of HMOs.
Energy Performance Certificates
On 1 April, new minimum energy efficiency standards were introduced for privately rented property. These standards require landlords to achieve at least an E on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ahead of agreeing any new tenancy agreement. So, if a property is rated as F or G it cannot be let to new tenants or even have existing tenancies extended until the rating is improved.
Landlords should ensure they have an up to date EPC on all of their properties and if any are rated as F or G, they will need to make the necessary improvements to bring them up to standard.
Some lenders require a property to have an EPC rating of E or above, whereas others will continue to lend on properties that are rated F or G but will reflect the cost of any work that is needed to bring the property to a minimum E rating in the valuation.
On 1 October, the government is extending mandatory licensing for HMOs to include all HMOs that are occupied by five or more people from two or more households. In order to lawfully continue to rent out a property, a licence must be applied for before this date.
As part of this mandatory licencing, the government is also introducing minimum room size for bedrooms in licenced HMOs. Rooms used for sleeping by 1 person over 10 will have to be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by 2 people over 10 will have to be no smaller than 10.22 square metres. Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.64 square metres. Any part of the room which the height of the ceiling is less than 1.5 metres cannot be included in the floor area of that room.
HMO licensing will also require landlords to provide adequate waste storage facilities in line with the local authority’s rules or potentially face a fine. Although, on a positive note, it has been confirmed that councils will not be able to start charging for waste collections from HMO properties.
READ how we helped a first time landlord purchase an 8 bed HMO