Unsurprisingly it’s been a busy few months in the property market so far this year, and a busy few months in the lettings market to say the least. From changing tenant requirements to eviction bans it’s been a busy time for keeping up with all the changes.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the average rental value across the UK rose by 1.3% in the year to January 2021, which is actually the smallest annual increase since October 2019.
A February survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors did however highlight how rental growth expectations have strengthed so far this year and the majority of agents do expect rents to rise over the next three months.
However, even though agents are optimistic it looks like landlords are still nervous with a number of them looking to exit the private rental sector.
According to Zoopla, the proportion of homes for sale that were previously rented has been on a steady upward trajectory in all regions of England during the past year.
This could be down to a number of factors including landlords simply selling to capitalise on recent house price growth, a response to the changes in demand in the rental sector as a result of the pandemic or being prompted to selling following legislation changes.
One of many legislation changes expected to happen this year is an update to the governments ‘model tenancy contract’. It has already been updated to make it easier for tenants to have ‘well-behaved’ pets. This change looks to reduce the number of pets needing rehoming when their owners move home.
According to the PFMA, 10% of pet owners who gave up their dogs had done so because landlords didn’t allow pets.
Landlords will now be required to provide a good reason to reject a request to keep a pet, and this change is likely to affect a huge number of landlords and tenants as currently only 7% of private landlords advertise their properties as pet-friendly.
Other big news from the last couple of weeks is that the requirement for landlords to give tenants a six month notice period before they can evict them has been extended until the end of May this year.
The eviction ban was originally introduced in March 2020 as part of emergency legislation to help people whose finances had been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and has been extended multiple times since. However, it’s likely that this will be the last extension as the UK comes out of lockdown over the next few months.
Looking towards the rest of the year, we’re expecting to continue to see regular legislation changes, including changes in April to the Electrical Safety Standards and Client Money Protection.
The new Electrical Safety Standards will apply to all tenancies in England - both new and existing - from 1 April 2021, requiring landlords to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested at least every five years. April 1 is also the deadline for agents in England to comply with Client Money Protection legislation.
There are still a number of changes for the industry and landlords that are likely to happen this year that dates haven’t been confirmed for yet, so it’s unlikely that the workload for our letting agents will slow down any time soon.
*Ellie Donaghy is Head of Lettings at Andrews Property Group