Extension to eviction ban one of several changes to rental rules, says My Property Box

Darlington-based letting agent My Property Box is highlighting a trio of changes that will have an impact on both landlords and tenants.

Most notably, the government ban on bailiff-enforced evictions has now been extended to May 31, whilst from April 1 landlords are required to undertake an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) for all existing tenancies – or risk a £30,000 fine.

Meanwhile, mandatory client money protection rules are being introduced to prevent the misappropriation of money held on behalf of landlords and tenants.

Ben Quaintrell, founder and managing director of My Property Box, said the most high-profile change surrounds the government’s extension of the eviction ban – which was due to expire on March 31.

Since last March, landlords have been unable to use bailiffs to enforce an eviction, except in special circumstances, such as substantial rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.

He said: “While this policy is designed to help those worst affected by the pandemic to remain in their homes, many private landlords around the country report have reported suffering a reduction in rental income.

“An equitable response from the government would be to provide financial support to those landlords left to foot the bill – despite having to meet their own obligations, including mortgage payments, maintenance bills and other related expenses.”

Tenants will also continue to benefit from a six month notice period before repossession proceedings can commence, meaning any tenants served notice from May 31 can remain in their homes until at least November 30.

To support its landlords, My Property Box has introduced a 15-month rent guarantee scheme, including £100,000 worth of legal cover, to its Premium Tenancy Management Plan.

From April 1 all existing tenancies must have an EICR to ensure electrical installations, including wiring, light fixtures, and sockets, are safe. The certification, initially introduced to cover new tenancies last July, lasts for five years.

If an EICR is unsatisfactory, a landlord must carry out the necessary work within a maximum of 28 days, providing evidence that the electrical installation is safe. Those failing to comply can be fined up to £30,000 per property.

Also coming into force on April 1 is a requirement for all letting agents to join a client money protection scheme. Currently agents in England, including My Property Box, who are members of a trade body, are covered by this form of insurance – which protects money held on behalf of landlords and tenants, such as deposits, rental payments, and maintenance funds. The new rules require any agents not in a trade body to join a government-authorised scheme.