Landlord legislation changes

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5 May 2015

Landlords, are you aware of recent legislation changes?

Author: Peter Fuller

There have been several important updates to landlord legislation recently, including; compulsory Legionnaires’ disease risk assessments, a legal requirement for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and an important update to Capital Gains Tax for non-UK residents.

Peter Fuller, Lettings Managing Director at Romans, explores these noteworthy changes and advises landlords on the updates:

  • Combatting Legionnaires’ disease

Residential landlords are now responsible for conducting risk assessments in order to help combat Legionnaires’ disease.

Peter comments: “Although most residential rental properties carry a low risk, Health and Safety legislation now requires landlords to carry out special risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria in all of the properties they let.”

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

It is a serious lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria infecting your lungs, and it's usually caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water. For more information on the disease visit nhs.uk.

Please note that it is the sole responsibility of Romans’ landlords to arrange a Legionella Risk Assessment prior to any tenant taking occupation, including managing any risk.

  • Smoke and monoxide alarms legally required in rental properties

From October the government has confirmed that all UK lettings agents and landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties; providing safer homes for tenants.

Letting Agent Today reported that this move will help prevent up to 36 deaths and 1,375 injuries a year and comes with strong support after a consultation across the private rented sector.

The government claims that over 90% of homes already have smoke alarms installed, compared to just 8% of homes in 1988.

Brandon Lewis, Housing Minister, said: “The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant can be given this important protection.”

This change has the potential to save lives, as official data from the government claims that people are at least four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm, and the NHS says that every year over 200 people are hospitalised due to suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, which leads to around 40 deaths.

“Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are available for less than £10” comments Peter Fuller, “so there is really no excuse for landlords not to install them sooner rather than later, and ensure they’re checked by themselves or the tenants on a regular basis.”

It’s also expected that England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities will support private landlords with the provision of free alarms, with grant funding from government.

  • Capital Gains Tax changes for non-UK residents

On 6th April the new Capital Gains Tax was introduced, affected all non-UK residents who own rental properties in the UK. It has important implications on the amount of Capital Gains Tax you have to pay when selling your property.

New Capital Gains Tax legislation

“We’re recommending that all landlords who are non-UK residents get their properties valued now, in order to avoid paying more tax than necessary when the time comes to selling your property; even if you aren’t planning on doing this anytime soon” adds Peter.

Property Industry Eye, a leading independent industry body, said: "Until April 5th, non-UK residents could potentially dispose of UK assets without incurring a charge to Capital Gains Tax. However, from 6th April, a Capital Gains Tax charge will arise on non-UK residents who dispose of UK residential property.

"The charge will only be applicable to gains occurring after April 6th."

How can you avoid paying unnecessary tax?

Get your property valued now. Then if you sell your property you will only pay the Capital Gains Tax on the increased value of your property from 6th April 2015. Property Industry Eye warns that if you do not get a valuation now, then an alternative could be to apportion the total gain over the whole period of ownership – resulting in a hefty tax bill.

Romans’ RICS surveyors are currently undertaking many of these valuations for non-UK resident landlords. To value your UK property and thereby reduce your future Capital Gains Tax liability, contact Romans’ expert surveyors today on 0333 1220 961.

To discuss any of these legislation changes in more detail contact your Property Manager or the team of experienced letting agents at your local Romans branch.

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