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Welcome to another Landlord Law Newsround, there has been no shortage of housing news this week, and we start this week’s Newsround with some EPC news.

EPC’s not fit for purpose

RICS has warned the government that EPC’s in their current format are no longer fit for purpose, with the general public not understanding their function or what they can used for.

RICS are calling for changes to be made in the way that the ratings are calculated and they way in which the data is presented, saying

Improve the EPC scheme to make it fit for the different purposes that it serves. Significant improvements can be made to the way EPCs are calculated, presented and used. The current rise in energy prices and the increase in extreme weather events caused by climate change provide a big opportunity to raise awareness about the condition of the UK building stock, and establish a clear link between building performance, energy cost and carbon emissions.

RICS’ new report on Decarbonising UK Real Estate details that changes are required in the way the country approaches carbon reduction in buildings and lifetime carbon output should be tracked for each building. Fabrizio Varriale of RICS says

By implementing the policy recommendations set out in this report, the UK Government will maximise the impact that sustainability policies in the built environment sector will bring to achieving its net zero goals by 2050.

Food for thought!

Agents v direct management

The Negotiator reports that a new survey out shows that landlords are now veering towards managing their rented properties directly rather than using an agent. Reasons vary but the main one landlords prefer to have direct contact with their tenants along with dealing with management issues themselves.

There still appears to be confusion over ultimate responsibility when using a letting agent, the report says

A number of landlords had misconceptions on the subject of ultimate liability in relation to property standards. 50% said ultimately the letting agent is responsible or that responsibility is shared, whilst 17% did not think or did not know if landlords should still treat compliance as important when using a letting agent.

The findings suggest that landlords’ experiences of letting agents can vary greatly, with many reporting problems and issues with their services.

Landlords still need to understand that putting their property with an agent does not relinquish any of their legal responsibility, they still need to know what’s going on and make sure that any legal obligation like the gas safety certificate is still carried out every year.

More landlords are now using sites such as our own Landlord Law Services, which helps you understand their legal obligations, provides online help and documentation and can save you money by helping you do things yourself while still having a ‘network’ of support.  Tessa is usually around in the forum to answer ‘quick questions’ from members.

Councils fall short on resources

Propertymark has stated that Councils fall short in resources and therefore struggle with enforcement, and that has an impact on standards for social and private renting sector.

They also want more focus on ‘preventing’ rather than ‘prosecution’ to drive standards up by helping landlords more to meet certain standards.

This is the message it is giving to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. It also wants standards to be consistent across all local authorities.

Timothy Douglas, Propertymark Head of Policy and Campaign says

Tenants should expect a certain standard when renting from any agent. The Decent Homes Standard creates a level playing field that our members will appreciate as they already go above and beyond what is expected of them.

That being said, the DLUHC needs to understand the immense strain local authorities are facing when delivering their current duties regarding existing standards. Sufficient resources and commitment will be required to ensure consistent and regular enforcement of the Decent Homes Standard.

You can read more here.

More buy to let woes

Landlord Today reports that experts are warning that the future is looking quite gloomy for the buy-to-let sector in the short term and landlords will need to decide if raising rents is the only option open to them to cover their mortgage costs.

Ray Boulger, technical director at broker John Charcol says

What we’re seeing now is criteria changes and we’re finding situations where clients are not able to proceed with the amount they originally planned to borrow because of criteria changes. It’s not all about rate, it’s rate and criteria, particularly stress test rates, they’ve been changed as a result of rates going up.

Charles Roe, director of mortgages at UK Finance says

Products were available. But lenders were also dealing with a large number of phone calls and requests that came in from borrowers who were concerned about their finances, would they be able to re-mortgage.

But throughout that period, lenders were offering follow-on products to those borrowers that came to the end of a fixed-rate product. We’re seeing the markets return to much more stability over the course of the last two to three weeks. As a result of that, swap rates [key to determining mortgage interest rates] have come down and in turn lenders are reducing their mortgage rates.

When the yield on long-term gilts, so the yield on five-year gilts, goes up, the swap curve goes up, and the cost of hedging a five-year fixed-rate mortgage goes up.

Tenant jailed after trying to sell his rented property

A tenant has been jailed for trying to sell the property that he was renting passing it off as his own. Neighbours, however tipped a potential buyer off, who turned up with a surveyor and the police were called in to investigate. DC Dan Harper said

This is an almost unbelievable and truly brazen crime, which saw an innocent buyer almost part with more than £400,000 for a property that was never for sale in the first place. The investigation has been long and detailed and we have worked tirelessly to make sure justice has been served.

The tenant pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation along with money laundering and given two years six months in prison.

Make sure that you are signed up to the Land Registry property alerts!

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Newsround will be back next week.

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