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Landlords and tenants unaware of new EPC law

Many landlords and tenants are not aware of the EPC rating on their homes and with new legislation starting in April, this could result in a large number of fines being handed out to landlords.

From 1 April, new lets and relets with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of ‘F’ or ’G’ cannot be rented out, and existing tenancies have until 1 April 2020 to upgrade their EPCs. Any landlord letting a property that fails to meet the standard required could face a penalty of up to £4,000.

The  research, commissioned by insurance agency Just Landlords, was conducted with those involved in the UK private rental market.

It found that almost three-quarters (73%) of landlords and tenants are not aware of their property’s EPC rating. Two-thirds (65%) aren’t aware that improving their rating could save them money and 95% have not measured their EPC rating.

Nearly half (48%) of those asked did not know that upgrading their insulation would improve their EPC rating. Four out of five (80%) didn’t know an EPC rating could be an indication of how environmentally friendly a house is and 30% did not know that an upgraded boiler would improve their rating.

But 58% did know that the condition of windows had an effect on a property’s EPC rating.

Rose Jinks, on behalf of Just Landlords, said: “It’s not only essential that landlords understand all new legislation in order to avoid hefty fines, but also that their properties are safe and comfortable for their tenants. This law is designed to improve the energy efficiency of rental properties, which could vastly reduce bills for tenants.

“In addition, landlords will be pleased to know that an energy efficient property will be more appealing to prospective tenants when it comes to marketing the property, so it’s a win-win.”

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Highest standard of fire safety extended to all homes

Fire and smoke alarm regulations will be changed to ensure all homes have the highest level of protection following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Legislation will be amended to extend the “existing high standard” required in private rented housing to all homes in Scotland, the Scottish Government said.

This will mean that private homes must have at least one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used, at least one smoke alarm in spaces such as hallways and landings and at least one heat alarm in every kitchen.

A carbon monoxide detector will also be required in all homes and there will be a 10-year age limit for alarms.

The changes have been announced following a consultation on fire and smoke alarms which was launched after the Grenfell Tower disaster last June in which 71 people died when a fire ravaged the London high-rise.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “Fires and fatalities from fires are decreasing but even one death is one too many.

“Scotland already has rigorous standards for smoke and fire alarms developed over time, with the highest standard currently applied to new-build and private rented housing.

Now everyone will benefit from the same level of protection, whether you own your home, or rent from a social or private landlord.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart

“The tragic events at Grenfell Tower last year emphasised how important building and fire safety is, which is why we brought forward our consultation on this issue.

“Now everyone will benefit from the same level of protection, whether you own your home, or rent from a social or private landlord.”

The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 will be amended to reflect the new requirements.

All alarms will have to be ceiling-mounted, and should be interlinked.

Assistant Chief Officer David McGown, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Director of Prevention and Protection, said: “The presence of working smoke and heat detectors have been proven to significantly reduce casualties and fatalities occurring as a result of fires within the home.

“SFRS therefore welcome and support the next steps from this consultation which will undoubtedly improve home safety for all residents, regardless of tenure.”

Source: BT.com

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Nationwide and UK Finance welcome government leasehold reforms

Nationwide and UK Finance both welcomed the Government’s announcement on how it intends to address onerous ground rents and leaseholds.

The government plans to legislate to prevent the sale of new-build leasehold houses except where necessary such as shared ownership. And they plan to ensure ground rents on new long leases, for both houses and flats, are set at zero.

Chris Rhodes, Nationwide’s director for products and propositions, said: “We welcome the government’s positive measures in addressing onerous leasehold terms and escalating ground rents.

“We hope this encourages providers to review their lending criteria in this area and also guide homebuilders on future developments.

“This is the very reason why we made the decision back in May to become the first major lender to not lend on properties affected by unreasonable multiplying leaseholds that double every five, 10 or 15 years.

“The maximum acceptable starting ground rent on all new build leasehold properties is limited to 0.1% of the property’s value, while our minimum acceptable lease term on new build transactions are now 125 years for flats and 250 years for houses.”

Paul Smee, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: “We support the DCLG’s efforts to address the onerous and potentially unfair issues surrounding the leasehold system.

“Lenders will continue to work with government and other interested parties to address the complexities associated with leasehold properties, particularly where valuation is concerned.”

Other legislation includes working with the Law Commission to support existing leaseholders and make the process of extending a lease or purchasing a freehold much easier, faster and cheaper.

The government also plans to provide leaseholders with clear support on the various routes to redress available to them.

They plan to ensure freeholders have equivalent rights to leaseholders to challenge unfair service charges.

There will be a wider internal review of the advice and support to leaseholders to make sure it is fit for purpose with this new legislation.

Source: Mortgage Introducer