In this guest feature, James Dilgul, Head of Marketing at Fixflo, the market-leading repairs and maintenance management software provider, looks at how the use of PropTech can help the lettings sector cope with the challenges of 2022.
A new year not only brings with it new beginnings, but also the prospect of new legislation for agents and landlords to comply with. As we look ahead to 2022 and beyond, we can see the UK government has big plans for rental reform, including the abolition of Section 21 and increased enforcement against landlords with properties that do not meet acceptable standards.
With the next twelve months being the government’s chosen timeframe for releasing a white paper detailing the reforms they wish to make, we can assume legislation will come in the next few years. To avoid making mistakes that could lead to expensive losses for you or agency and your customers, consider preparing for upcoming changes now, and ensure your lettings and property management processes are future-proof.
Abolishing Section 21
The most significant part of the government’s proposed reforms is no doubt the abolition of Section 21, a huge shakeup for the sector in England which will make it more difficult to evict occupiers in future without having a strong reason. Currently, under Section 21, landlords cannot evict if they have failed to provide a valid gas safety certificate or Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) prior to serving the eviction notice.
When Section 21 goes, we could see this restriction applied to Section 8 notices instead. This means it is vital to ensure each of your properties is compliant and that you can evidence your provision of the right certificates to your occupiers. PropTech solutions can help with this, making it easy to track which properties have certificates, when these certificates expire and who sent what to whom at what time and on what date.
To make all these requirements manageable, a repairs and maintenance solution should make it easy for you to communicate with and organise jobs for contractors to ensure the right checks are carried out at the right time.
Renting Homes (Wales) Act coming into effect
Though plans are in place to eventually abolish Section 21, more pressing in Wales is this legislation which is expected to come into effect in Spring 2022. The Act makes many changes to tenancy laws in Wales, including how tenancy agreements work, but the most significant change for agents and occupiers is to ‘no-fault’ evictions. The minimum notice for these will be extended from two months to six months. Notices will not be allowed to be served before six months into the tenancy, and their validity will depend on the landlord complying with obligations around licensing, deposit protection and registration.
Once again, landlords and agents must make sure their properties are compliant if they wish to maintain their ability to serve eviction notices, and proptech can help ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Landlord redress and enforcement
The government has also announced it is seeking to improve property conditions, crack down on rogue landlords and consider the merits of a landlord redress scheme as part of its renters’ reforms. This means that it will become even more difficult in the future for landlords who fail to meet standards, not only because of increased enforcement from local authorities and the government but also because of the power occupiers will have to hold their landlords accountable.
One of the best ways to ensure your properties meet compliance standards is to allow occupiers to easily report maintenance issues they encounter. This could be done through an online repair reporting portal that offers instant guidance, collects essential information, triages issues and eliminates the need for back-and-forth phone calls or emails. Proptech solutions can also help you organise periodic inspections and repair work needed through contractors, improving response times and resulting in happier occupiers and landlords.
With increased enforcement and regulation on the cards, it’s more important than ever to ensure your properties stay compliant and will continue to do so as compliance standards change over time. PropTech solutions that track legislative changes and provide out-of-the-box compliance monitoring tools are your key to success in 2022 and beyond.
James Dilgul is Head of Marketing at Fixflo