New regulations being implemented on 25 November 2020 will allow non-UK nationals in England to evidence their status for Right to Rent through a digital Home Office check and reduce letting agent workloads. Going forwards, the new system will mean that these digital checks specifically, can be conducted permanently via video call, with no need for letting agents to review documents.

New Process

The system will clearly display whether follow up checks are required and provide a record of the check for the agent to store. Some additional checks will still require documents from letting agents, as not everyone will currently have an immigration status that can be checked online. Therefore, agents must be prepared to continue conducting traditional checks involving the original documents.

Digital Checks Required

Groups that may present you with a share code for a digital check are:

  • Non-EEA nationals with a current biometric resident permit or card;
  • EEA nationals and their family members with status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme;
  • Those with status under the points-based immigration system;

 

The Home Office has updated the existing Code of Practice, and these include reference to the status of visitor nationals – known as B5JSSK nationals – from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA, which were introduced in July 2019.

A new Short Guide to Right to Rent has also been published, within which, the existing visual reference tool designed to provide examples of relevant identity documents has also been updated.

Where can a tenant/applicant obtain a ‘share code’?

The share code for these new digital checks for tenants/applicants to use can be created via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/prove-right-to-rent

Where can I view a tenant’s/applicant’s right to rent? 

You will be able to view a tenant’s/applicant’s right to rent via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-rent

What about Brexit?

Brexit is another external force which may yet have an impact on how these checks take place and the criteria which applicants should meet. Before the UK’s transition period comes to an end, we will continue the right to rent checks with nationals of the European Union as per the current requirements. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020 will have until 30 June 2021 to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

Until this deadline, landlords can accept passports and national identity cards of citizens from these areas as evidence of their right to rent during this period. After this period, the government has announced a new points-based immigration system to come into force on 1 January 2021, which will require proof of a job offer at the required skill level from an approved sponsor, and that they speak English. However, the right to rent checks have still not been explicitly defined after the deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme passes.

If you would like to find out more information regarding these changes, please complete the below contact form and a member of our team will be in touch.

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, meaning landlords or agents working on behalf of the landlord must ensure every fixed electrical installation is inspected and tested at least every 5 years by a qualified person. The Regulations also state that a landlord is required to obtain a report of the results of the inspection and test, supply it to each tenant within 28 days and retain a copy until the next inspection is due.

This new piece of legislation is now in effect as of 1 July 2020 for new tenancies and applicable for existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.

Remedying Faults

If the electrical safety report identifies a fault or potential fault, which the landlord must either investigate further or repair, the landlord must ensure further investigations or repairs are completed by a qualified person within 28 days of the inspection, or within the timeframe set out in the report if this is shorter.

Enforcement and Fines

The enforcement of this legislation will be conducted by local council authorities and they will be able to impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 for a breach of the regulations. Where there are multiple breaches, the local authority can impose multiple penalties.

In readiness of this piece of legislation, we are currently auditing all our properties to ensure we have an up to date electrical safety report which complies with the new regulations.

If you have any queries or questions regarding this piece of legislation, please do not hesitate in contacting us on +44 (0)20 3551 9900.

From the 1st June 2019, the Tenant Fee Act will be in effect which prohibits letting agents and landlords from charging tenants’ fees associated with the start and renewal of a tenancy.

There is a 12-month transition period. This means any existing fees detailed within a tenancy agreement exchanged before June 1st 2019 will apply until 31st May 2020.

If and when you renew your tenancy the following fees will apply:

  • Security/Damage deposit will be no more than 5 weeks’ rent for new tenancies
  • Cost of replacing lost/stolen keys or security devices – £15 including VAT per hour (staff costs to replace the key), plus cost of the key/security device
  • Novation to the tenancy agreement including change of sharer – £50 including VAT
  • Rental arrears after 14 days will be charged at 3% above the Bank of England base rate

If the Landlord agrees and if the freeholder of the property permits tenants to have a pet within the property, a 7.5% rent levy may be added to the monthly rent to cover any potential damage, increased wear and tear and additional risk.

If you would like further information regarding the Tenant Fee Act 2019, please contact a member of our team on 020 3551 9900 or email us as reception@complete-ltd.com

Changes to Houses in Multiple Occupation Rules

There have been some crucial changes to the mandatory HMO guidelines which has seen the introduction of minimum sizes for bedrooms, please see below and the 3 or more-storey rule has been abolished, so all properties will be required to obtain a HMO licence if the property is occupied by 5 or more individuals* and makes up more than one household.

These new conditions will apply to all new HMOs licenses from 1st October 2019, however these conditions will not apply to existing licenses which were issued before 1st October 2018, until the current licence expires and is renewed.

Minimum bedroom sizes required as part of HMO Licence:

  • 51 m² for one person over 10 years of age
  • 22 m² for two persons over 10 years of age
  • 64 m² for one child under the age of 10 years

 

If your property or portfolio is managed by our Property Management team and has a HMO license, a member of the team will contact you regarding any changes to your licence.

* Due to different rules set out by local authorities your property may require a HMO license if the property is occupied by 3 or more individuals.

One of the most significant legislative changes is the Tenant Fee Act which will be in effect from 1st June. From this date, lettings agencies and landlords will be prohibited from charging tenants with fees associated with the start, end or renewal of a tenancy.

We will only be able to charge tenants the following fees but these will be capped:

  • 1 weeks’ rent holding deposit
  • Damage deposits will be capped at 5 weeks
  • Cost of replacing lost/stolen keys or security devices
  • Rental arrears after 14 days will be charged at 3% above the Bank of England base rate
  • Change of Sharer
  • Novation to the tenancy agreement during the current tenancy

 

In readiness of this change, we will start taking five-week deposits for new tenancies within our London and surrounding area portfolio.

A £5,000 fine per fee will be charged to any agent/landlord found to be still charging prohibited fee(s) to tenant(s).

If you would like to find out more information regarding this legislative change, please contact your local office for further information.