January was a busy month for Government announcements. From redress, to more details on the tenant fees ban, here we take a look at some of the key announcements at a glance in both England and Wales, and what they mean for you.
Date for Tenant Fees Bill in England set for 1st June
The Bill is still awaiting Royal Assent, but in January it was announced that this would come into force on 1st June 2019. The ban will apply to all tenancies signed after this date. It will not apply initially to older tenancies.
It will apply to renewals of tenancies, excluding statutory and contractual periodic tenancies that arise after the Tenant Fees Act comes into force.
After one year (in 2020) the ban will attach to pre-existing tenancies and clauses that charge fees in them will become ineffective. You can read our guidance on the Tenant Fees Ban in England here.
Universal Credit: New online system to be developed for APAs
One of the announcements made by Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd this month was that the DWP is developing a new, online system allowing rent payments to be paid directly to landlords. The system is due to be developed in the summer, and it is something the RLA welcomes and has been campaigning for. Also this month, our Senior Policy Officer Natalie Williamson gave evidence to the London Assembly Housing Committee, where she shared the experiences our members have told us they have on APAs. In Wales, a new Universal Credit website was launched in the Welsh language.
If you want to learn more about Universal Credit, the RLA run Universal Credit courses for landlords, delivered by expert trainer Bill Irvine. With upcoming dates in Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, sign up today.
Electrical safety changes on the way
Towards the end of the month, the Government published the results of a consultation on Electrical Safety Standards, committing to the announcement made last July of introducing mandatory five year electrical safety checks for landlords. It was also announced that landlords will be legally required to ensure that the person carrying out such checks is qualified to do so, and the Government intend to introduce further guidance on this. While no date has been set, legislation will be introduced on a phased in basis. Want to learn more about PAT testing? Check out our one-day PAT testing classroom course.
Another big announcement this month was that landlords will be required to be part of a redress scheme, or they could face a £5,000 fine. No date has be set for this, and the measure forms part of the government response to the consultation ‘Strengthening consumer redress in the housing market’, which ran from February. Since 1st October 2014, it has been a requirement for all letting and managing agents in England to become a member of a redress scheme. Our Policy Director David Smith is quoted in this recent Telegraph article about this, in which he warns that bad landlords ‘will simply not join the scheme’.
English Housing Survey
On the last day of the month, the English Housing Survey results were published. The report reveals that the proportion of income spent on private rents was 32.9 per cent, down from 34.3 per cent in the previous year, and from 36.4 percent in 2014/15. The average length of time a tenant in the private rented sector has lived in their current home has increased, from 3.9 years in 2016/17, to 4.1 years in 2017/2018.
New Welsh Housing Minister
In January, Julie James AM completed her first month in her role as the new Housing Minister in Wales. Appointed just before Christmas, Julie replaces Rebecca Evans AM, who spoke at both of the RLA’s Future Renting Wales conferences.