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Dates for the diary – what do landlords need to look out for in the second half of 2021?

It’s been a momentous year for landlords so far, marked by the ending of the eviction ban and the first stage of the stamp duty holiday, as well as changes to Right to Rent and new regulations for electrical safety standards.

But with the lettings industry set for a major overhaul in the coming weeks and months, what will the second half of 2021 bring?

Below, we take a closer look at what landlords need to be aware of for the rest of the year and beyond.

August: Right to Rent video checks end

With the pandemic and social distancing measures halting in-person meetings, landlords and letting agents have been able to conduct the Government’s Right to Rent checks via video call instead. The temporary changes are designed to make it easier for letting agents and landlords to carry them out.

Since the onset of Covid-19 in March last year, the Home office has not required landlords to see original documents – rather it currently allows checks to be undertaken via video calls. This means prospective tenants can submit scanned or photographed documents, rather than physical versions, to show they have a right to rent or right to work in the UK.

The deadline has been extended a number of times due to the ever-changing situation of Covid and was most recently extended until August
31 2021.

You can find out more about the current status of Right to Rent checks by clicking here.

September: end of the stamp duty holiday

The first stage of the holiday on all homes worth up to £500,000 ended on June 30, to make way for the phasing out period where the holiday has applied to all homes worth up to £250,000. This is set to end completely on September 30, then the nil rate threshold will return to pre-Covid levels of £125,000 from October 1.

Since its introduction in July 2020, the temporary holiday has granted landlords some very useful savings – up to £15,000 in some cases. A second stamp duty rush is anticipated before the fresh September deadline and then something of a fall away in the market, but many speculate that this won’t be drastic as there are other things currently incentivising buyers, sellers, investors and landlords.

September: furlough scheme winds down

Also ending in September is the furlough scheme. Officially known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, furlough has played a huge role in bolstering the economy by protecting millions of jobs since the start of the pandemic in the UK in March 20202.

While it has been widely praised as one thing the Government has got very right since Covid, the scheme has also come at an enormous cost to the Treasury – standing at approximately £66 billion.

With many tenants relying upon furlough to cover the cost of their wages and helping them to pay their rent, they could face job losses when the scheme. A spike in unemployment could cause a knock-on effect for landlords with regards to rental payments and a possible rise in rental arrears.

Similarly, some landlords may have been depending on the furlough scheme of the self-employment income support scheme and could be hit hard when this support is rescinded. This could cause financial issues for landlords and lead them to seek an exit from the sector, which in turn would pose problems for tenants and the PRS.

While the furlough scheme has already been given a stay of execution four times during the pandemic, the Prime Minister and Chancellor have both said they don’t wish to extend the scheme again, given the sheer amount it costs. However, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove has hinted that it could still be extended.

October: notice periods return to normal

The end of the eviction ban on May 31 2021 meant the notice periods landlords must provide to tenants they wish to evict dropped from six months to four months. Having been in place (in one form or another) for much of the previous 14 months, the ban is expected to return to pre-Covid levels of two months’ notice from October 1.

Of course, this will be reliant on the success of the easing of restrictions, which were largely stripped away from July 19, and no further lockdowns or restrictions being introduced if a fourth wave were to hit in the winter.

Autumn (tbc): rental reform white paper

The Government has promised to release a White Paper this autumn, laying out its long-awaited plans to reform the PRS. While there is no fixed date for when the White Paper will be published, or what it will include, it is anticipated to inform on the most sweeping changes in the PRS to date.

This includes the much-talked-about Renters’ Reform Bill, containing the abolishment of Section 21 eviction notices and the introduction of lifetime deposits for tenants.

The reforms have been in the pipeline for over a year and a half, with their first mention in the Conservative Party’s manifesto for the December 2019 general election. The plans, originally due to be brought before Parliament in 2020, was inevitably put on hold by the pandemic. But now The government has committed to a White Paper in the autumn, with legislation said to make its way to Parliament by early 2022.

It is likely that any legislation will face opposition and obstacles from the lettings industry, with agents and landlords both unhappy about the prospects of Section 21 notices being scrapped in favour of less effective Section 8 notices.

While anything concrete won’t change this year when it comes to rental reform, we should at least have a clearer indication of the
Government’s plans come autumn.

These are just some of the key things that landlords could be affected by before the year is over. In any case, partnering with an experienced letting agent will allow you to always keep up to speed of the latest news, helping you to remain compliant.

Here at Holland Properties, we have been an established estate and letting agent since 1999 and can help to manage your tenancies, allowing you to get the most from your rental properties as a result. We operate in Docklands and the surrounding areas including Surrey Quays and Rotherhithe.

For further guidance on any part of the lettings process, please contact us today. You can also request a free and instant
online valuation
to see how much rent you could be charging in the current marketplace.