Property Valuation
Follow us on:

Compliance Update – January 2023

10 January 2023 / Corporate News, Landlord News, Renting

Negotiator Awards Winners

Stirling Ackroyd is delighted to announce that we have recently won both the National Large Estate Agency of the Year and London Estate Agency of the Year Awards at the industry acclaimed Negotiator Awards 2022, held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on 25th November.

It is a great honour to be recognised for our market leading customer service and performance. Winning both awards is testament to our continual drive in innovating our processes, systems, training, and development. More importantly though it recognises our people who are at the core of everything we do and all our success.

The 2022 entry list was the biggest in the history of The Negotiator Awards, which continues to grow in stature and value each year. It is seen as the most important awards programme for the UK residential property industry, and we are immensely proud to have taken top spot in both London and the National categories!

Legislative Changes Ahead

The industry has seen much uncertainty in the last half of the year, with a new Prime Minister and a mini budget with many measures since reversed. Speculation if Section 21’s would be abolished led to both the previous Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Levelling Up to confirm that this, and the Renters’ Reform Bill, were still on the Government’s agenda. Despite the change in government leadership, the appointment of Michael Gove back into the position of Housing Secretary suggests that these proposals, at this stage, remain unchanged.

We’ve shared a reminder of these reform proposals below:

A breakdown of the Renters’ Reform Bill proposals

The Renters’ Reform Bill and the abolition of Section 21 are still expected to be brought forward “in the course of this Parliament”.

Here’s a recap of the main proposals, outlined in the A Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper:

  • Section 21 will be abolished, and section 8 will be strengthened, with amended and new grounds to help landlords regain possession of their properties in certain circumstances
  • Periodic tenancies will become standard, with tenants needing to give two months’ notice if they wish to leave
  • The notice period that landlords will need to give for rent increases will double, to two months
  • A new housing standard will be applied to the private rented sector for the first time, under the Decent Homes Standard
  • Tenants will get more rights to keep pets – but the Tenant Fees Act 2019 will be amended to include a form of pet insurance as a permitted payment, to help offer landlords more protection
  • Landlords will need to sign up for a new private renters’ ombudsman, to help mediate and settle tenancy disputes
  • Property details will need to be registered in a new property portal to help tenants understand how compliant their landlords are – but also to help keep landlords informed on any new compliance obligations

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 reminder

Housing providers are being put “on notice” following the sad passing of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, the Government has said. Awaab died in Rochdale from a respiratory condition caused by exposure to mould in the family home. Housing Secretary Michael Gove has written to every English council leader and all social housing providers stating they must improve conditions.

What is the Home Fit for Habitation Act?

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force on 20th March 2019. It is designed to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation and to strengthen tenants’ means of redress against the minority of landlords who do not fulfil their legal obligations to keep their properties safe.

The legislation requires landlords to ensure that they are meeting their existing responsibilities with regards to property standards and safety during the tenancy.

To achieve this, landlords will need to ensure that their property is free of hazards that would mean the property is considered not reasonably suitable for occupation. Most landlords already fulfil their Homes Fit For Habitation responsibility and take swift action when the most serious of property concerns are raised by their tenants.

The courts will decide whether a property is fit for human habitation by considering the matters set out in section 10 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Courts will consider the following when assessing if a property is fit for habitation:

  • the building has been neglected and is in bad condition
  • the building is unstable
  • there is a serious problem with damp
  • the property has an unsafe layout
  • there is not enough natural light
  • there is not enough ventilation
  • there is a problem with the supply of hot and cold water
  • there are problems with the drainage or the lavatories
  • it is difficult to prepare and cook food or wash up
  • and any of the 29 hazards set out in the Housing Health and Safety (England) Regulations 2005

Complying with the Homes Fit for Habitation Act

If a landlord fails to comply with the Act, tenants may have the right to take action via the courts for breach of contract.

If the court decides that the landlord has not provided their tenant with a home that is fit for habitation, the court can either:

  • order the landlord to pay compensation to their tenant
  • order the landlord to carry out necessary works to improve their property

If the tenant seeks redress through the courts, this does not prevent the local authority from taking enforcement action should they feel this is necessary. Local authorities have a range of powers which allow them to take action against agents and landlords to tackle poor and illegal practices, including when landlords fail to carry out essential works that have been brought to their attention.

If we manage the property for you, your lettings branch team will do a visual check for you at the time of marketing/re-marketing and advise you if there are any issues which cause concern.

Click here to find out more about the Act

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) reminder

You will remember that following consultation in December 2020, the government announced changes to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for England and Wales.

The government have proposed that all rental properties will need an EPC rating of ‘C’ or above by 2025. Like the previous changes, the new regulations will be initially introduced for new tenancies, followed by all tenancies from 2028. The change in regulation is hoped to make homes more energy-efficient and reduce carbon emissions as part of the governments target to be net-zero by 2050.

The financial penalty for not ensuring a valid EPC is in place, will be raised from £5,000 to £30,000 from 2025.

An EPC is currently valid for 10 years and if you would like a copy of your existing EPC or further advice on improving the energy performance in your rental property, for managed properties please contact your Property Manager or for non- Managed properties, your local Lettings Director, who will be happy to help you.

Click here to find out more about EPCs

What is material information when marketing your property?

The National Trading Standards Estate and Lettings Agency Team (NTSELAT) has outlined what information they consider to be material when advertising a property for Let.

From May 2022 when a property is marketed, we must include details of the size of deposit needed, the council tax band or rate and of course the cost of rent as a minimum. Later phases of the new material disclosure rules are expected to confirm that in addition to this, we will be expected to also detail what utilities are available at a property and information specifically relating to the property such as the location or non-standard features.

It is hoped that by providing this additional information as standard, tenants will have a more transparent view when considering a property to let and be able to make a more informed decision prior to making an offer.

Making Tax Digital for Income Tax- regulations update

For landlords paying income tax with a qualifying income of over £10,000, Making Tax Digital for Income Tax rules will come into force on 6 April 2024.

Making Tax Digital for Income Tax applies to individual landlords. If you manage your property portfolio through a limited company, you’ll only be affected by the changes to Corporation Tax, currently expected no earlier than 2026.

Self-Assessment for the remainder of Landlords is currently paper or online based, it is quite probable that the paper-based option will be phased out eventually

We would recommend you seek advice from a registered accountant and opt in for our Annual Income and Expenditure report. For more information on these regulations please click here.

If you are not currently opted in for our Annual Income and Expenditure report and wish to upgrade your services so you can benefit from this, please email lettingscompliance@stirlingackroyd.com or contact your local branch.

Licensing update

As mentioned in our previous newsletter, Ealing Council’s new Selective Licensing scheme will be in place from 3rd January 2023. This covers 12 wards including Acton Central, Dormers Wells, Greenford Broadway, Greenford Green, Hanger Hill, Hobbayne, Lady Margaret, North Greenford, Northolt Mandeville, Northolt West End, Perivale, and South Acton.

The new scheme is in addition to the existing Selective Licensing scheme which covers the wards of East Acton, Southall Broadway, and Southall Green. This scheme commenced on 1st April 2022.

We recently sent out notification to all affected landlords and will continue to monitor local authorities licensing schemes when processing new tenancies and renewals for existing tenancies.

Following a consultation period, the decision has now been made to introduce an Additional HMO Licensing scheme in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. The scheme will begin from 1st June 2023 and apply to properties occupied by three or more unrelated tenants. We will provide more information to those affected landlords closer to the time.

For further information please contact your Compliance team: lettingscompliance@stirlingackroyd.com

Imran Uddin – Compliance Manager

Great to Know

How does Stirling Ackroyd invest in their people?

Here at Stirling Ackroyd Group, we have been busy designing a whole range of new training and development interventions to help promote a culture where all our colleagues can be the best versions of themselves, which in turn ensures they offer all our Landlords and Tenants the very best service.

We focus on a range of training from leadership competencies to ensure our Managers and Directors are fully equipped to lead their teams in the right way, through to all our colleagues’ knowledge and competence both in technical and personal skills.

These training and development sessions are delivered via e-learning, webinars and in person to cater for different learning styles and to manage time effectively.

The development of our colleagues starts from their very first day with us and continues for the entirety of their career here at Stirling Ackroyd Group so that all our colleagues are always developing.  These include assessments of colleague ability around key skills like viewings and market appraisals which directly impact our landlords and their tenants.

In 2023 we are launching a whole new range of development interventions including new Manager academy, industry recognised external professional qualifications in Lettings and Property Management and a brand new, Future Leaders Program.

So, you may ask how does this benefit me as a Landlord whose property is let or managed through Stirling Ackroyd Group?

In short, we invest in the skills of our people and ensuring that they are constantly kept up to date with all the latest information around the rental industry and have the right abilities, these are all tangible benefits to you.

Whether it is in appraising your property accurately, professional viewings with potential tenants, ensuring we get the very best offer and tenant for you or supporting you and your tenant with the highest quality property management, these all make sure that you maximise your rental income, minimise any issues with tenants and protect your asset.

I am sure you will notice the time and energy we devote to developing our colleagues here at Stirling Ackroyd Group.

Steven Milicia – Head of Learning and Development

Product updates

Online Maintenance reporting system

You will remember from the last update that we now have our own online maintenance reporting system for tenants to use, a system which is quicker and more helpful to log issues and to assign Contractors when necessary.  It also allows Landlords to approve works and for landlords and tenants to view maintenance requests online and the progress of jobs.

This system has been in place for 3 months and we are seeing a positive response from Tenants as they start to report issues directly online, rather than by telephone or email.

On average each week, 62 issues are reported via our online maintenance system and are resolved through the online site without the need of a contractor to attend. The online tool provides practical advice, videos, and tutorials for tenants to rectify minor issues themselves, for example, re-lighting the pilot light on a boiler. This in turn is saving you, our Landlord, an average cost of £90.00 each occasion an issue is resolved without a contractor attending.

Rent and Legal Protection (RLP) service

Further to our previous newsletter, RLP continues to be a relevant benefit that many landlords are choosing to select. With continued risk landlords face (eviction times are currently at 10 months due to the backlog created by the pandemic, inflation, and rising energy costs) we believe it is more important than ever that landlords consider the benefits RLP protection offers should you not already have this in place.

Here is reminder of the benefits and protection it provides:

  • Rent protection on your monthly rent – if your tenant does not pay their rent, we will make a claim for you on our insurance policy. If the claim is successful, we will pay you any money recovered that is due to you
  • 100% of arrears will be payable until vacant possession
  • No excess when making a claim
  • We will cover any legal fees linked to the non-payment of rent up to the value £100,000
  • The service will also provide legal expense protection for any serious breach of the agreement by the tenant
  • On gaining vacant possession following a case of arrears and the service being activated, we will pay you 75% of the monthly rent whilst we remarket the property for a maximum of 2 months
  • We will manage all cases on your behalf
  • You will be covered for 12 months initially with the option to renew
  • If this service will be effective mid-tenancy, there will be a 60 day no claims period from the date the service goes live
  • Rents up to £2500.00 pcm the monthly cost is £27.00, rents from £2501-£5000.00 pcm the monthly cost is £45.00, all costs are inclusive of VAT

If you would like more information about our Rent and Legal Protection service, please get in touch via email at RLP@stirlingackroyd.com

Focus on Shoreditch

It has been 15 years almost to the day since I started my career in Estate Agency as a very reluctant graduate who took the job believing it would be short lived whilst I worked out what I really wanted to do. Little did I expect that a few months in I was hooked and was quick to realise I could see a very exciting career in this sector.

Over those years I have worked my way across London, West to East, weathering some very varying markets.  My last landing place in East London was Shoreditch where I had the pleasure of taking over Stirling Ackroyds flagship branch.

Now as Regional Director, I oversee all our Central London offices but Shoreditch, as an area, will always have a special place in my heart.

I was enamoured with the place the first time I stepped off the train at Shoreditch High Street and felt the innate creativity of the area. Walk around any corner and you will see impressive street art, unique artisan shops, serious coffee houses and oh, an old train carriage sitting on the top of a building roof! You can’t help feeling the Shoreditch buzz which is why we are consistently inundated with tenants looking to move into the area to take advantage of the copious restaurants, bars (some of the best London has to offer) not to mention other highlights such as Columbia Road flower market, Spitalfields and all the independent vintage boutiques which make for great shopping.

It also happens to be well placed for those working in the creative industry, city workers and in recent years those working in technology with many large companies relocating into the area. Historically Shoreditch was home to the textile and furniture industries, remnants of which can be seen through the stylish converted loft apartments which the area is well known for.

There is something for everyone in Shoreditch and remains ever popular with even more change and evolution on the horizon. For properties available to Buy and Rent in Shoreditch please click here.

Stirling Ackroyd Shoreditch

Nikki Smyth – Regional Director

For more information on the Stirling Ackroyd Group and the areas we cover please click on the following link:

Stirling Ackroyd Branches

Related Insights

Market Insights

Award-winning Stirling Ackroyd Group delivers 20% revenue growth in 2022

Group plans to further grow the business organically and by acquisition in 2023. Award-winning Stirling Ackroyd Group today announces it…

Market Insights

Lettings Market Update

Bruce Evans, Managing Director, Group Operations at Stirling Ackroyd, gives his views on the current Lettings Market. The two biggest…

Free Property Valuation?

Stirling Ackroyd are a local award winning estate agent selling and letting property across London and South East. With 35 branches, an office near you and local knowledge, you can trust us to sell or let your property.

Book a free property valuation

Property Market Intelligence

Choose a branch area for tailored property insights.

Development Experts

We’ve been an integral part of London’s property evolution. Over the years, we’ve adapted our service to always stay one step ahead.

Find out more

Stay Up-To-Date