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Rent reform and buy-to-let updates - James Melvin-Bath of Willans LLP solicitors

By James Melvin-Bath 

Many of the restrictions put in place for residential landlords wishing to resolve issues during the pandemic have recently been lifted.

This is good news says property litigation solicitor-advocate James Melvin-Bath, who discusses the key changes and what to expect.

The past 18 months have been a complicated and tumultuous time for landlords. Restrictions were placed on rent recovery, possession proceedings and other issues caused by tenants being unable to pay rent due to the pandemic.

Throughout this period, landlords have had to navigate changes in notices, compliance rules, restrictions on possession proceedings, complications in restarting proceedings and other barriers when trying to resolve issues.

While most of these restrictions have now expired and landlords are once again able to seek possession of their properties in the usual way, we haven't quite returned to the pre-pandemic process. 

Breathing spaces - a stay that tenants can apply for throughout rent claims and possession proceedings - must still be dealt with, as well as the substantial court backlogs created over the last 18 months.

What's next for rent reform?

As a team we're frequently asked about upcoming changes and what impact they could have. While it's difficult to predict the direction rent reform is going to take, we can make an informed guess based on the recent information released. 

Broadly speaking, we expect that section 21 non-fault evictions will end, and new grounds will be added for recovering possession from tenants. The government has also announced its intention to streamline the court process, while the minimum EPC requirements are becoming more stringent.

As such, it has become more important than ever for landlords to ensure their tenancies, deposits and relevant compliance certificates are in order before a letting starts. This will help to avoid issues further down the line.

What advice do you have for those looking to get into the buy-to-let market?

Matters typically come to our team when something has gone wrong and the relationship between the landlord and tenant has broken down. However, the cases that go to trial are a small fraction of the total number of lettings in the U.K. and most landlords have reliable tenants providing a consistent income. 

We therefore always suggest speaking to a well-regarded, local IFA when considering investments and to factor buy-to-let property into those discussions.

I'm a landlord. What should I do if I have an issue?

Act as soon as possible and seek advice before you issue notice to tenants. This is because notices, and requirements placed on landlords before they issue notice, are complicated and will typically only be valid if all requirements have been met. By taking advice beforehand, you minimise the risk of issuing notice and finding out that it's invalid two months later.

At Willans, we're passionate about supporting residential landlords in managing, growing and reviewing their property portfolios, and work with a variety of professionals to assist in that regard. As such, if you are concerned, have a problem with a tenant or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

For anything else concerning property litigation, contact James Melvin-Bath on 01242 542944 or email james.melvin-bath@willans.co.uk.

James Melvin-Bath is an experienced solicitor-advocate in Willans' litigation & dispute resolution team. He supports clients with property litigation issues, including where a landlord may have a problem with a tenant, and other landlord and tenant matters, as well as commercial disputes.

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