The recent news of the new Covid Omicron variant spread is concerning and reluctantly we are back to mask-wearing in the office as well as continuing with our on-going safety measures at property appointments, valuations and viewings. Despite the Government’s move to plan B, Estate Agents and Lettings Agents can remain open, working from home when possible, and the housing market is to continue operating. There is guidance on viewings, contractor visits and inspections but again these can go ahead providing facemasks are worn, consent by the occupier is given and no party is having to self-isolate. Please continue to follow our ongoing safety measures and check out this LINK.
- All appointments must be booked in advance – either by email or by phone – using the normal numbers as when staff are working from home they continue to use the main office communication methods.
- Please view properties using our online video tours (where applicable) in the first instance.
- Do not book appointments if you have been in contact with anyone suffering from COVID symptoms or if you, yourself, have symptoms.
- Ensure that only 2 adults attend viewings, wearing face masks and sanitising hands before and after entering the property.
- Please limit touching anything inside the property, ask the agent to do this for you as they will sanitise surfaces before and after.
- Please ensure you are genuinely interested in moving and refrain from ‘passing the time’ or ‘being curious’ and making unnecessary physical appointments at this time.
- If you are a tenant, please ensure you have all of your verification information on hand when you register, as all applicants will be pre-qualified before being able to view a rental property.
Overview of 2021 Lettings Market
We are delighted to confirm that this year has been a tremendous success for the Ashington Page lettings and property management team, despite the challenges of having the office closed to the public and all of the safety measures in place for handling safety amid the Covid pandemic. We have had a very busy year, Beaconsfield has been incredibly popular as a rental area, and despite a lack of stock and many properties going under offer before they even hit the marketing portals, we have been well over our predictions with almost 500 active tenancies this year. A very well done to our newest member of the lettings team Emily Atkinson: Emily came to Ashington Page new to the industry and has dedicated herself to learning all of the legislation (she is studying for her final Level 3 exams in January 2022) and, would you believe, she has averaged 9 viewing to every new tenancy, so she really has been our ‘Road Runner’ this year.
Most importantly, we now have Rent Guarantee Insurance in place for almost all of our managed tenancies – so very important in these unpredictable times, and well worth the outlay. That’s a huge relief for our wonderful property manager Shirley Green, if you’ve met Shirley you will know how she worries about all of our tenants and landlords, so knowing that we have this amazing safety net in place, should the worst happen, nobody will be out of pocket.
2 more of our team are also taking their Propertymark ARLA exams, Jane Davies and Laura Foo should be fully qualified in the first half of next year, meaning that you have additional experts in the team to keep you advised on all of the changes in the rental sector, we are expecting a lot more next year, so read on to see what is in store!
What to expect in the Private Rental Sector in 2022
The Renters’ Reform Bill white paper is likely in the Spring. This will include the move to abolishing Section 21, strengthening of grounds under Section 8, and introducing lifetime tenant deposits. In addition, the notion of a landlord register has been raised. The government is currently in consultation with key stakeholders to ensure a policy that takes into consideration a wide variety of views on the topic.
Winter 2021/2022: Confirmation on increasing Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (England and Wales) Although an increase to minimum energy efficiency standards is awaiting government feedback from the consultation stage, it’s expected that, from April 2025, all new tenancies for private rented properties will require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above, up from the current requirement of a band E rating. From 2028, this increase will apply to all tenancies. This new legislation would also increase the capped amount that landlords would be required to invest to achieve the higher ratings, from £3,500 to £10,000.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Regulations. The government will be amending regulations for social landlords in line with private landlords for smoke detectors on every storey of their property. Carbon Monoxide alarms must be installed in every room where a fixed combustion appliance is present (with the exception of gas cookers or hobs). Landlords must replace faulty detectors (not battery-related issues), tenants will remain responsible for testing regularly if part of their contractual obligation within the tenancy agreement. Additional guidance should be available once the law is passed, likely to be April 2022.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my update, I wish you all a fabulous Christmas and look forward to seeing you in 2022.
Claire Woodrow, MARLA