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As London estate and letting agents, Behr & Butchoff is always monitoring announcements made by the Government, as well as digesting information from our industry governing bodies and reading the trade press. We do this so the landlords using our property management service don’t have to.

 

In the last four weeks, there have been new regulations – and rumours – that impact the lifecycle of a buy-to-let. For those with an investment property in the St. John’s Wood area, are thinking of making a buy-to-let purchase or are about to rent, here are the latest lettings updates.

 

Let’s start with a confirmed change. A revised How To Rent guide was published by the Government on 23rd March and Behr & Butchoff is issuing this to renters when we set up all new tenancies, and it’s also given out when existing tenancies renew.

 

The updated How to Rent guide confirms new landlord responsibilities concerning matters of fire safety, EICRs and property access for those with a disability. As well as helping to improve the standard of privately rented accommodation by setting out what is acceptable, the guide is also part of the ‘prescribed information’ all tenants must receive. Failure to issue the most recent edition of the How to Rent guide can prevent the issuing of Section 21 notices. 

 

The Behr & Butchoff lettings team is available to discuss the implications of the How to Rent guide and we can help landlords adjust their properties so they continue to be compliant in line with the updates. 

 

Now for what is going to happen in the future. The Prime Minister used the end of March to announce a crackdown on anti-social behaviour. In his address, Mr Sunak included unruly tenants in this remit and revealed an intention to make it easier for landlords to evict nuisance tenants as part of a new Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan.

 

In relation to anti-social tenants, the notice period will be reduced from four to just two weeks. The Government will also broaden and clarify what exactly anti-social behaviour is, meaning additional behaviours outside of the prescribed noise, drug use and damage will also be considered reason to act. 

Persistent noise, being drunk and disorderly, intimidatory behaviour, drug use, vandalism and neighbours who consistently play loud music or let their dog bark all night will all be classed as anti-social, and we await details of how the Government’s phrase 'capable' of causing ‘nuisance or annoyance’ will be interpreted in real-life situations.

To help landlords evict anti-social tenants, the Government will make it ‘faster and easier’ to prove grounds for possession (this reform will be made permanent even when Section 21 notices are abolished) and all new private tenancy agreements will need to include a clause regarding anti-social behaviour so it's clearer to demonstrate breach of contract. There will also be improved mediation services for low-level bad behaviour to avoid the evictions process altogether.

 

The change will apply to all new tenancies but, at present, it isn’t clear when these changes will come into force. It is thought they may be added to the Renters’ Reform Bill for action in the 2022-2023 session of Parliament.

 

Finally, we end with the rumour. The Telegraph has reported that changes to minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector will be delayed. It was previously understood that new and renewing buy-to-let properties would need a minimum EPC of C by 2025, with existing tenancies following suit in 2028. 

 

The rumour, however, suggests the 2025 deadline will be scrapped in favour of a universal deadline of 2028 when all private rented properties would need to bear an EPC of at least a C. This would buy landlords more time to save for and implement necessary energy efficiency changes. 

 

Behr & Butchoff will be monitoring all the speculation, conjecture and rumour, and will provide more details of the proposed changes as and when they are finalised. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact the St. John’s Wood for the lettings latest.