Landlords Association Trending News Renting a property from a private landlord during COVID-19

Renting a property from a private landlord during COVID-19

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Renting a house in London from a private Landlord

The London rental market can move more quickly than in other parts of the country.

The London rental prices have fallen the most compared to the rest of the UK during the lockdown. The London rental market is the first part of the housing market to reflect what is going on in the broader UK housing market.

Hamptons’ research found that the most significant rent reductions are in central London, with monthly declines of 12% seen in SW1, where the average room rent is now nearing £952 per month. Down in Brighton, that figure was 55 per cent. 

Mr Miles Shipside, a market analyst at Rightmove, said: “There was a notable increase in new rental listings coming onto Rightmove in some of the most popular tourist areas like Bath, Edinburgh, Brighton and areas of Central London last week,”. He said. 

North Shoreditch seems to be trendy, while Stoke Newington is brimming with leafy parks, cute boutique shops and plenty of nice places to eat. 

Landlords and tenants need to be aware of the 90-day limit when renting a property for short term lets. The regulation around short-term rentals in London is that a host must be liable to pay council tax for the nights they rent their homes.

Renting a property during COVID-19 is cheaper for tenants

Due to COVID-19 with tourism depressed, formerly short-term lets are flooding on to the long-term rental market. This has added to the supply, according to Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons.

Another factor why rents in especially in London are declining is due to all those Airbnb investors with no holidaymakers, are throwing their flats on to the longer-term rental market. 

A month later, in mid-April, the number of new prospective tenants was down 28%, which is lower than the year before. Online searches for rental properties was 10% higher than the five-year average.

“A lot of landlords have floor plans and photographs ready to go so we have seen landlords re-letting properties, and there has not been a fall-off yet in terms of the number of properties on the market,” said Tom Bill, head of research at Knight Frank. ” He said.

It’s the nimblest part of the housing market so any indication that people are starting to think about life after lockdown, you’ll begin to see that first in the numbers in the rental market.” Will rents rise again this year?

What do I need to know when renting a house?

Check out the council tax rates as they vary between each borough, so it is wise getting clued up on what council tax band any rental house falls in for the area you are interested in.

Check who is responsible for bills such as electricity, gas, water, and council tax. If you intend to rent the whole house, you will likely have to pay for the utilities.

However, if you are renting a room, then the council tax, gas, electricity, and water bills are likely to be included in the rent. You will need to check the tenancy agreement before signing.

When you start a new assured or short assured tenancy, your landlord is legally required to give you: a copy of the How to rent guide if you live in England. If the let is in Scotland, then it is the tenant information pack.

The agent or landlord must provide an EPC certificate or an EPC link for you to check the EPC. If a property has an energy efficiency which is F or G energy rating, the landlord must improve it to E or better.

If you do not know your home’s energy efficiency rating, ask your landlord or agent for an energy performance certificate (EPC) or the online link to the EPC register.

If a tenant has a fixed-term agreement, it can only end early if your landlord consents or your written contract says you can end the tenancy earlier then the fixed term- this is known as a ‘break clause’.

If you have a joint agreement, the rules are more complicated – you usually cannot use a break clause unless the other person agrees to do this.

For GDPR purposes when carrying out credit checks, the landlords or the agents must get your consent to run a credit check.

If you have been asked to pay a deposit it is likely the deposit will have to be protected under the deposit scheme. All assured shorthold tenancies where a deposit is paid must protect the deposit within 30 days of taking it.

If the property rented to you has gas, the landlord is required to have an annual gas safety certificate, which needs to be done each year. 

Some boroughs a landlord is required to have a license before they can rent a property. Some house with multi occupation HMO’s may require a license too. 

A landlord is required to give you an electrical safety certificate which needs to be renewed each year. The landlord is required to ensure the property they are renting is safe to live in.

How to find landlords who accept benefits 

Contact your council as they usually have a list of local private landlords who rent to tenants claiming benefits.

If you already pay rent to a private landlord while claiming benefits, you can provide bank statements and references to show a history of rent payments to your new prospective landlord.

No DSS blanket policies used by some agents and private landlords for tenants claiming universal credit or housing benefit is illegal.

LHA rates are used to work out universal credit or housing benefit for private renters.

Some landlords are uncomfortable about letting to tenants claiming benefits because both universal credit and housing benefit are paid in arrears. The experience private landlords and agents have with the benefit system are putting landlords off from renting to DSS tenants.

You can download Landlord Advice UK booklet which was created in association with the British Landlords Association which lists information and contacts regarding benefits some tenants can claim. Download.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for private landlords and tenants

The legal rights of a landlord and the tenant’s obligations regarding access to the property contained in the tenancy agreement continues to apply during COVID-19. 

If in doubt, seek advice from the NHS through the advice line by calling 111. The situation regarding COVID-19 is changing rapidly so the advice too may change.

Tenants are under a legal obligation to grant access to the let property to carry out essential repairs to the property. It may be things like an annual gas safety check or to inspect a tenant’s home for any repairs that need to be done.

Landlords are not obliged to provide alternative accommodation for tenants if others in the property contract the virus.

Source: Brtish Landlords Association

Author: Marc Attwater

Date: 6th of October 2002

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