“If we thought the last decade was difficult for landlords, 2020 is going to be a real minefield. There’s no doubt we’re going into another legislation heavy year with massive change coming to our contracts our responsibilities towards the health and safety of tenants, and our obligations to record, record, record!”
Well – I wasn’t wrong! When I wrote that paragraph back in January 2020, I had no idea we were heading into a global pandemic – I promise!
The changes to our tenancy contracts haven’t materialised yet, but our health and safety responsibilities and our recording obligations have most definitely gone through the roof helped in no small part by COVID-19.
It hasn’t all been bad news, though.
A Legislation Heavy Year – and not just because of the pandemic
COVID-19 drastically altered the way letting agents operate, with the Welsh Government passing legislation that governs everything from how long a property should be empty for between tenancies to who can move and for what reason – as well as effectively re-writing the evictions process.
But we’ve also seen legislation changes come in this year entirely unrelated to coronavirus, including but not limited to:
- updated holding deposit legislation
- clarification on ICO registration
- changes to Welsh Land Transaction Tax
- new minimum energy efficiency standards
We’re also still expecting the Renting Homes 2016 Bill which, when passed, will introduce new contracts, as well as the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), mandatory smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, Right to Rent checks, and (potentially) a no-pet ban.
Electrical safety checks are now mandatory in England, so it won’t be long before they’re mandatory in Wales, too.
Rent guarantee policies have been on a little rollercoaster of their own this year! We stopped being able to offer our managed landlords a free 6-month rent guarantee at the start of every tenancy as the provider cancelled the service when the pandemic hit.
Companies that were still offering them increased their prices as they received more and more claims.
I started researching to find a comprehensive, cost-effective alternative, and though we can no longer offer the service for free, I’m confident that the new one I’ve found is robust and offers significant protection to our landlords.
Having a Rent Guarantee service in place has never been more critical, especially with the level of redundancies forecast in the next few months, 6 month notice periods, court backlogs, and so on.
We just cannot make any assumptions that tenants with good employment histories will not be affected by the continuing repercussions of the pandemic.
The “New Normal”
As you know, it’s important to me that we utilise new technology where possible to help provide a better, more streamlined service to our clients.
Because we were already well on our way to becoming a paperless office, when the initial lockdown was announced, it wasn’t difficult for our staff to get set up working from home.
Visits to our office continue to be available by appointment only, but the team are available for phone and video calls should you wish/need to speak with us.
We began recording video walkthroughs of our available properties (you can watch the first one by clicking here.) These have been invaluable, and continue to play a huge role in our marketing strategies. They have also allowed us to experience (virtually) the stunning views from the Meridian Tower!
On the subject of technology, we also had our first webinar this year! It was a landlord legislation update on the subject on evictions – landlords, if you missed it, you can sign up for the replay by clicking here.
Best Practice Agent
I was very excited to share with you that McCartan was awarded the highest level rating of Best Practice Agent by Rent Smart Wales in our first audit!
It has always been hugely important to me to work to best practice standards – it’s absolutely key to our company’s values and mission. There are always risks involved in letting, but we work hard to reduce those for our landlords, to protect you from £1000s of fines, banning orders, rent repayment orders, etc, and to ensure your tenants are renting safe, secure homes.
As one of the first agents in Swansea to become licensed with the scheme, we’ll be one of the first to renew our license next year, too.
Another Record Breaking October for Rents
Tenants planning to move during the initial lockdown chose or had to delay moving until restrictions eased. This may have resulted in more people looking to move through the Summer than we’d normally expect.
Due to lockdown, tenants’ priorities have changed in Swansea, too, so tenants may have been looking to leave earlier than their contract dates as securing somewhere with better internet speeds, or with a garden, became more important than early termination fees.
Properties with these desirable features will thus be in higher demand, and rents will rise.
It’s now been confirmed that we’ll be starting the year in another lockdown, but we hope that with a vaccine now being rolled out, we can look forward to 2021 being a less turbulent year. Yes, there will still be a minefield of legislation to get through but as always, I will be letting you know all about it and how you can get through it!
If you want to have a chat about your property plans in 2021, why not book in with me for a call?
Hoping you have a relaxing, healthy, and happy Christmas break!