In recent months we've seen changes to stamp duty, eviction legislation and new smoke alarm laws (Scotland only) introduced. With more deadlines fast approaching, we've put together some of the essential dates and legislations that you should be aware of for the rest of 2021.
1 April 2021: Stamp duty changes
From 1 April all non-UK residents purchasing property in the UK will be liable to pay an additional two per cent stamp duty surcharge. If you do pay the stamp duty surcharge and then go on to become a UK resident within 12 months, you may be eligible for a refund. We recommend reviewing the full government guidelines should your circumstances change and of course, speak to your accountant about any refunds you might be entitled to.
1 April 2021: Client money protection
The deadline for agents to comply with client money protection legislation has been pushed back twice in recent years, with the Government providing lettings and property agents with an additional year to get their head around the changes. But from 1 April, all agents must comply with the changes.
Agents must join a 'client money protection scheme' in England's private rented sector and hold clients' money in an account with a bank or building society authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. Alongside this, they need a certificate confirming the scheme's membership, providing it to anyone who asks, free of charge.
1 April 2021: Deadline for electrical compliance
If you're a landlord, you should have an electrical safety compliance certificate for every property you own. The certificate proves that fixed electrical installations have been safety tested by a qualified electrician, ensuring the safety of your tenants. Anyone found to be without a certificate after 1 April will be breaking the law.
From this date, all existing specified private tenancies will need to comply with the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector. Landlords must ensure all electrical wiring and fixed electrical installations are inspected, tested and signed off by a qualified electrician every five years, including wiring, sockets, fuse box and other fixed electrical parts.
31 May 2021: Changes to eviction legislation
Due to COVID-19 and government restrictions, landlords with Assured Shorthold Tenancies must give tenants six months' notice when serving a Section 21 notice for possession. This eviction ban has since been extended by the government from 31 March until 31 May 2021.
The regulations state that it's unlawful to attend a residential property to either carry out an eviction or give notice of removal unless specific exceptional circumstances apply. Exceptional circumstances include domestic abuse, anti-social behaviour, and more than six months' worth of rent arrears.
30 June 2021: Changes to Right to Rent
Currently in the UK if you're a landlord, you must check all tenants' immigration status to find out whether they can legally rent your property. This ruling applies to all tenants, irrespective of ethnicity or nationality.
With Brexit bringing in a points-based system from 1 January 2021, new regulations will allow non-UK nationals in England to evidence their status for Right to Rent through a digital Home Office check. The new system means that digital checks can be conducted permanently via video call, with no need for letting agents review documents. As an interim measure, landlords have been told to continue using passports and national ID cards until 30 June when the new regulations come into play.
30 June 2021: Stamp Duty Holiday
As part of the spring budget, the Government announced an extension to the previous stamp duty holiday deadline of 31 March. This extension is part of plans to support the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
If you live in England and Northern Ireland, you must complete your purchase by 30 June 2021 to qualify for no stamp duty on a residential property bought for up to £500,000.
1 July 2021: Stamp Duty Holiday
From 1 July 2021, no stamp duty will be charged on a residential property bought for up to £250,000 until 30 September.
30 September 2021: Stamp Duty Holiday
From 30 September, stamp duty will then return to the usual level of £125,000.
To be confirmed
Changes to planning regulations
In a bid to stop developers from building homes without enough space or natural lighting, the Government is planning new legislation for minimum space and light requirements.
This proposed law will target developers using PDR (permitted developers rights), a fast-tracking process that currently allows developers to transform buildings into homes without applying for full planning permission.
The date for this legislation is yet to be confirmed so keep your eyes peeled for further guidance.
Amendment to Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016
Initially proposed in February 2020, the amendment to the Renting Homes Act in Wales will see tenants given a minimum of 12 months protection from eviction at the start of a new tenancy, provided they're not in contravention of their tenancy agreement.
Other amendments to the bill will include: an extension of the minimum notice period from two months to six months, a legal obligation for landlords to provide functioning smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and gas and electricity safety certificates to be in place for every property.
Deadline for landlords to implement MTD
If you're a landlord with a turnover of over £85,000, you should be using MTD (making tax digital). The system requires you as a landlord, to send HMRC quarterly updates of income and expenses via your digital tax account. This calculates your tax as you go, so at the end of the year, rather than completing a tax return, you simply sign a declaration to say the numbers are accurate.
If you're not using MTD but should be, the deadline is set for some time in 2021, with an additional deadline of 2022 for all businesses to sign up, irrespective of turnover. Speak to your accountant for further details on this topic.
Abolition of Section 21
2021 could be the year of the abolition of Section 21. Currently, Section 21 allows landlords to evict tenants with a notice period of six months either after a fixed-term tenancy ends, or during a tenancy with no fixed end date. Part of the Government's planned Renters' Reform Bill, the abolition of Section 21 would mean that all evictions would need to go through the courts.
Potential increase in capital gains tax
As part of the spring budget announcement made earlier this year, Rishi Sunak recommended the increase of capital gains tax (CGT) in the UK to help support the economy from the effects of Covid-19. An increase could affect those who hold second homes or assets. We anticipate more information will be shared on this topic in the coming months.
Regulation of property agents – England only
With no date confirmed for any new regulation to come into effect, The Regulation of Property Agents' (RoPA) has made recommendations for a new regulatory framework for property agents.
The recommendations include:
- An independent property-agent regulator
- A mandatory and legally enforceable Code of Practice
- Mandatory qualifications for property agents and clarification of processes and charges for leaseholders
Domestic smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
In recent months, the government has continued to protect residents from fire and carbon monoxide risks in their homes. There has been consultation on making several changes to these regulations, including the requirement to have carbon monoxide detectors for gas appliances and these closed on 11 January 2021. No date has been confirmed as of yet for an update on these discussions but we anticipate an announcement sometime in 2021.
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More detail on our property landlord services can be found here or if you have any specific queries, please contact a member of our team and one of our experts will be happy to help!