Topic – Maintenance and Servicing

Top tips to ensure your Properties are compliant with EPC regulations

The new 2018 EPC rules only apply to new tenancies. If an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) has been rated lower than E, how can landlords renewing tenancy agreements ensure their properties are up to the new standards in a cost-effective way?

  1. If the property was built before or around 1920 it probably has solid walls so you could install solid wall insulation from the inside or outside. If it was built after 1920 then the property is likely to have cavity walls.  The small gap between the double external walls can be filled with insulation.  Funding may also be available for this option.
  2. Properties without properly insulated windows could be losing up to 10% of its heat. Double glazed windows make a significant difference in lowering energy bills as well as reducing noise and condensation.
  3. Replace existing halogen or non-low energy lighting with light emitting diodes or compact fluorescent lights.
  4. Replacing an inefficient, old boiler will be a high initial expense but offer a positive impact on the EPC.
  5. Even with an old boiler introducing modern controls such as individual Thermostatic Radiator Valves, a Boiler Programmer or a room thermostat would significantly impact on your EPC
  6. The loft insulation in your roof should be at least 270mm in depth.  If your loft is 90mm or less you could receive funding to get it topped up otherwise this is a simple and effective way to influence your EPC rating.
  7. Renewable technologies are currently incentivised by the government and guaranteed by Feed-In-Tariffs so introducing Solar/ Photovoltaic panels which generate hot water and electricity replacing conventional heating systems.

Improving energy efficiency in your property is a commercial decision as some tenants would be willing to pay a higher rent knowing that their energy bills will be lower, so as well as complying with new regulations you would benefit financially.

PJJS Damp Blog

One word, four letters, damp! Most of us during our lives will encounter it in our abode, and let’s face it, no one wants to have to deal with it. We find ourselves either procrastinating about getting it assessed, or are panic-stricken that the walls are going to fall down! But who is responsible when it comes to rental properties, the tenant or the landlord?  

So there are several types of damp that can cause headaches for tenants and landlords alike. These are condensation, rising damp and penetrating damp. Older proper properties are fairly prone to experience any of these problems. If a damp scenario arises it needs to be investigated by having a damp survey carried out, this will establish the cause of the problem and what needs to be done to eradicate it. Damp often has a habit of leading to more serious problems, such as black mould or sometimes even wet and dry rot which alarmingly can have devastating effects to the structure of the property.

Does it seem like the question regarding damp and where the responsibility lies still hasn’t been answered? Probably because it hasn’t…let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The confusion when it comes to damp usually is due to people not knowing the differences. So, from a legal perspective, if the cause of the issue is due to rising or penetrating damp, then that is down to the landlord to get sorted…music to the ears for all tenants! However, there is always a however right? Condensation usually causes the biggest disputes when it comes to damp in rental properties. This is because it is very difficult to pinpoint who or what is the cause of the problem. It can often arise by the occupant’s lifestyle, examples being insufficient ventilation or not keeping the property at consistently warm temperatures.

Has this dealt with the damp debate? The Landlords and Tenants Act 1985 is the legislation that is referred to if necessary. PJJS Management Services, however, is a specialist letting agent in Maidstone, with over 40 years of residential letting experience. Their aim is to offer tenants bespoke, hands-on approach, ensuring tenants don’t have to worry about tedious topics such as the dreaded damp.

Letting Legislation

We’re almost mid-way through 2019 already, amid so much uncertainty regarding the whole Brexit saga. But don’t let that be a reason to overlook all the new letting legislation coming into effect this year. Tenants Fees Ban, Homes (Fit for Human Habitation) Act and Client Money Protection Scheme are all coming into play at some point this year.

Tenants Fee Ban

Coming into force as of 1st June 2019, aiming to ensure that tenants will be able to see what a property will cost them in the advertised rent without any hidden charges. It will also deposits for properties will be capped at a maximum of five weeks’ rent, six weeks’ for tenancy properties that cost more than £50,000 a year. Agents and landlords will also be banned from charging fees for anything other than the following:

  • Contract changes
  • Council and utilities tax
  • Changes to the tenancy
  • Issues where the tenant is at fault

This new legislation is going to impact landlords and agents, meaning they will no longer be able to pass on things such as inventories, credit checks and tenant referencing with new tenants. Causing problems as all of these processes are time consuming and need considerable man power to complete, thus generating a cost.

It is almost inevitable this new bill will lead to rents being raised to recover losses, as agents won’t be able to absorb the costs, meaning tenants initially will pay much less in up-front fees.

Homes (Fit for Human Habitation) Act

This bill came into force on 20th March 2019, requiring landlords to ensure their property is hazard free and fit for human habitation. Any property found to be breaching this updated piece of legislation is liable to face court action from tenants. This act is an amendment of the existing Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, empowering tenants to take legal action if the property is found to breach the guidelines.

The worry with this new bill is may entice some tenants to take legal action just to attempt to win compensation. Known as “vexatious complaints”, landlords and agents can tackle them by relying the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Client Money Protection Scheme

This law took effect as of 1st April 2019, passing that all private-sector agents are now required to join the government-approved Client Money Protection Scheme or be staring down a fine of up to £30,000. The scheme is designed to reassure tenants that their money is safe while with their agents.

PJJS Property Management has been managing residential lettings for over forty years, giving tenants piece of mind when it comes to lettings within the Maidstone area. We conduct full inspections throughout the year and all correspondence comes straight to us allowing us to inform the landlord of any issues that need addressing with the property.

Leasehold system still alive and kicking despite government measures

April 20, 2018

The Government is having a crackdown on what they call “unfair and abusive practices within the leasehold system”.   Research has found that 31.9% of all properties sold in the UK in 2017 were leasehold showing an increase of more than 5% on 2016. Leasehold properties benefit from Residents Associations who… Read more

Should tenants have the right to keep pets?

April 20, 2018

The Labour party wants to give tenants a default right to keep pets in their rented home. The 2015 Consumer Rights Act says Landlords can only refuse permission if it is reasonable to do so, these reasons being the animal’s size, impact on future rental demand and possible damage. In… Read more

Mortgage Rates set to be repriced upwards

April 20, 2018

Now is the time to review any assets subject to mortgages or secured loans, as rates are at their lowest for a long time for single property owners or those who own a portfolio. The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee confirmed its forecasts for interest rate rise were now… Read more

Noise Disputes

Noise nuisance

February 19, 2018

See the PDF for the details… Read more