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Our regular weekly roundup of news items that interested us.

This week we look at the new smoke and CO alarm regulations and a new lifetime deposit pilot.

New Smoke and CO alarms Regulations ‘imminent’

Updates to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations are expected to be in force as early as Autumn 2022.  These are expected to be as follows:

  • Landlords to be responsible for repairing and replacing any faulty smoke or CO alarm throughout the tenancy. Originally the regulations only stipulated that landlords needed to replace and repair an alarm at the start of the tenancy.
  • Landlords will need to ensure that tenants continue to make alarm checks throughout the tenancy. However, if the alarm needs replacing or repairing, it will upon the landlord to make the necessary changes.
  • The criteria for the location of CO alarms are expected to change – new regulations will require a CO alarm in rooms with a fixed combustion appliance and when installing any heating appliance – excluding gas cookers. An example of this would be a boiler.

While there is no set date for these changes, it is expected that they will come into force in Autumn or Winter 2022.  Landlords not compliant with the new regs are being urged to bring their properties up to standard as otherwise they risk being fined once the new rules are in force.

Housing Minister and Former PM discuss housing quality at Conference

This week, Housing Minister Michael Gove and Former Prime minister Theresa May attended a Shelter conference where they discussed and indeed attacked the quality and supply within the private rented sector.

Michael Gove announced that he would ‘tilt’ Government funding towards building more social housing. Shelter at the conference said more social housing is required as an alternative for those private renters who cannot afford to buy, as well as for those in desperate housing need.

Michael Gove said:

The quality of the private rented sector, the circumstances in which people find themselves, the inadequacy of so many of those homes, the fragility and vulnerability that so many people find in their daily lives … is insupportable and indefensible ..

Theresa May on the other hand, called for more houses to be built, saying:

We know our housing system is broken but the housing crisis in this country began not because of a blip lasting a year or because of a parliament but because not enough homes were built over many decades.

If only there was a Government in power over the last 12 years that could have done something about this …

No mention, incidentally of reforming the law to prevent council houses being sold off under the right to buy – arguably the main reason why local authority housing is in such short supply.  And also why the benefits bill is so huge – had properties remained in the social housing sector, rents (and benefit payments to pay them) would have been lower.

Demand for rentals at an all-time high

Research by the Paragon Bank this week has shown the proportion of landlords reporting increasing tenant demand has hit an all-time high of 62 per cent.

The report places Central London alongside the South West and Wales as the regions seeing the highest levels of increasing tenant demand during the previous three months.

Figures have shown that the number of people seeking privately rented homes has grown throughout the course of the COVID pandemic and after into 2022.

Perceived decreases in tenant demand, both significant and slight, were recorded by just three per cent of landlords, the lowest on record.

No Right to Rent checks or HMO licensing required for Ukrainian refugees

Ukrainian refugees, as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, will not have to undergo Right to Rent checks nor will they count towards a HMO license, according to Property mark.

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, said:

Until further information is provided by the UK government, we understand that no Right to Rent checks need to be done as ‘no rent is being charged’.

This may also be why landlords are unlikely to need to attain a HMO license: as refugees will not be paying rent.

So far more than 100,000 people have signed up to the scheme. If hosting, homeowners receive payment of £350 per month.

In other related news to Ukrainian refugees, mortgage holders with Yorkshire Building Society don’t need to notify the lender that they are participating under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Lifetime Deposit concept launched ahead of government reform

This week, PropTech company Canopy and deposit funding firm Fronted have launched the concept of a lifetime deposit. This would mean that deposits can be transferred from one rental property to another, streamlining the whole process.

The service will work as follows:

  • Customers will need to have a deposit protected in a scheme and pay a fee to the scheme
  • Once this has been verified, the scheme will pay the new deposit to the new landlord or agent on behalf of the renter
  • The old deposit, when released, will be paid to the scheme to cover the payment
  • Any deductions from the old deposit will have to be paid by the tenant (no doubt there is some insurance involved)

The concept of lifetimes deposits are said to be included in the upcoming Renters Reform Bill white paper. Tenants have constantly reported that waiting for deposits and the procedure as being one of the biggest challenges in the private rented sector.

Chris Hutchinson, chief executive of Canopy, says:

Traditional deposits are a significant barrier to people becoming renters in the first instance, and then a further barrier to renters moving home. Lifetime deposits have been an ambition for the industry for years

Snippets

Newsround will be back next week.

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