There are more than five million renters in the UK, with plenty more to come over the next 12 months, too.
And if you’re one of them, it pays to know what changes are coming that could affect you as a tenant.
Most years there are major legislation changes that can have a big impact on both tenants and landlords.
Yet many are often unaware of these changes – until they have direct impact.
Here are the five major changes you need to be aware of as a tenant in 2020…
1. The Renters’ Reform Bill
While this big change in lettings legislation is not yet law, it is on the agenda for this parliamentary term.
And as a tenant, you absolutely need to be aware of the proposed changes.
The main proposals are:
- To remove the right for landlords to evict tenants without good reason. This will mean section 21 evictions at the end of fixed term tenancies are no longer possible and landlords will only be able to evict tenants through section 8 evictions where a breach of the tenancy agreement has occurred
- Landlords should be given more legal rights to evict a tenant for a valid reason
- To introduce a ‘lifetime deposit’ rule for residential tenancies. This would see a tenant’s deposit transferred to a new property when they move so there is no overlap between receiving a deposit back and needing to provide a new one
This new piece of legislation comes hot on the heels of the Tenant Reform Act of last summer where agents and landlords were banned from charging some fees to tenants and deposits were capped at five or six weeks’ rent.
2. Renting with pets
Many landlords decline tenant requests to have pets in their rental properties.
From a landlord’s perspective, this avoids potential damage issues caused by animals and deep cleans at the end of a fixed term tenancy.
The government, though, believes more landlords should be open to allowing pets in their properties.
Its model tenancy agreement, used by many landlords, will be rewritten to remove restrictions on tenants keeping pets that are well-behaved.
While landlords are not obligated to use the government’s model agreement or consider allowing pets, Westminster hopes that more landlords will be open to the idea of doing so.
3. Zero-deposit schemes
One of the major headaches for tenants in the UK is finding a security deposit, not to mention the overlap between receiving a deposit back at the end of a tenancy and submitting a new one for a new property.
The proposed Renters’ Reform Bill aims to solve the latter issue by implementing lifetime deposits, while the Tenant Reform Act deposit capping legislation has also helped tenants manage their deposit monies better.
However, deposits are still a large amount of money tied up for what’s often a long period of time.
So, as a tenant, you could consider a zero-deposit arrangement.
This is a new initiative that means you pay a weeks’ rent to the company behind the scheme and this protects your landlord for up to six weeks’ worth of rent in the event of damage or unpaid rent.
However, you’re still liable for any damage and there are annual admin fees for the zero-deposit scheme.
Your landlord, too, would need to agree to it.
4. Credit scoring
Your credit score reflects how well you manage your money.
And the better your score, the more likely you are to be accepted for credit like mortgages, loans and credit cards.
Paying bills in full and on time is the best way to boost your credit score, but paying your rent on time every month has never contributed to your rating before.
Credit agency Experian is now rewarding tenants who pay their rent in full and on time with better credit scores and other agencies look set to follow.
5. Energy Performance Certificates
If you’ve signed a new tenancy agreement in the past two years, you should already know that your landlord can no longer rent out their property if its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating is below E.
For those of you tied into tenancies signed before 2018, though, this law has not applied.
From April 2020, it will.
So, make sure your rental property carries a rating of E or above from April and, if it doesn’t, your landlord will be legally obligated to improve it.
To find out more about any of the information above, contact your local Martin & Co office for more details.