News & Blog

New Year resolutions – What agents need to do in 2023

Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme, provides his top tips for agents in 2023.

 

So, the bells have rang in another year and if the last few are anything to go by it will be as unpredictable and turbulent for the sector to navigate.

Agents however can plan and prepare and here are my top tips of what they should be prioritising.
 

 

Get ready for more material information
 

Last year, National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agent Team (NTSELAT), announced that the property portals would be requiring agents to provide more detailed information up front on their listings.


The first part of the project went live in May 2022 and what is known as ‘Part A’ or ‘essential information’, where there is a cost for the consumer relating to all properties, can now be facilitated on all the major portals. This is not yet mandatory in order to list a property, however any gaps will now be highlighted and the consumer signposted to guidance.

Agents should now expect a new information requirement to follow this year, namely ‘Part B’ and ‘Part C’ information. Part B will cover information which may affect the consumer decision if it's a "non-standard" system. Part C will cover additional information that may not be applicable for all properties but should be included if it is - for example, if a property is at risk of flooding due to its location.  

The dates for when this goes live are yet to be announced, however agents should make sure they are collecting this information and speak to your customer relationship management system supplier to ensure they are up to speed with the new requirements.

NTSELAT will be publishing guidance soon.

Remember that the law requires you to provide all relevant material information, regardless of whether there is a category on the portal yet, so these details should be included in your property descriptions anyway.

For more information see the NTSELAT website and watch this infomercial.

 

Get ready for building safety

The requirements Building Safety Act (2022) are already starting to impact agents, and this will continue as more details and deadlines will be announced. Although these will predominantly affect residential property managers, they will also impact agents who buy and sell leasehold or freehold flats affected by the regulation and agents who rent them out.

Agents should make sure they seek advice and guidance on their obligations and keep their leaseholders, tenants and landlords up-to-date with developments.

One area of particular attention will be certain landlords (i.e. those who own more than three properties), who will not be eligible for financial assistance for non-cladding related remediations and even if the property is sold to a non-landlord or they later would have qualified, the exclusion is set in stone as of last February.  

For further guidance see GOV.UK.
 

 

Get ready for Renters’ Reform

After stop-start for the last three years, it looks like the renters’ reform agenda will be implemented, at least in part.

Work is advanced on phasing out no fault evictions and replacing current tenancies with a universal periodic tenancy. The property portal, effectively a landlord register is being scoped out and redress in the form of a property ombudsman is being developed. The Decent Homes Standard will form the base on which rental properties will be measured.

While no firm decision has been made on the actual content of any Bill and of course it will need to pass through Parliament to become law, agents should be keeping a close eye on what is happening and planning for the future.

Any of the changes will have a transition period and nothing changes at the moment, however the new regulations could come in quicker than people anticipate, and agents will have to adapt quickly.

Make sure you follow all the news on this and have a plan on how you will adapt when the changes come in.  Stay calm and reassure your clients.

 

Get ready for new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards

The environment is at the top of the agenda, at least as far as rhetoric is concerned, but just as pressing are energy price rises and the cost-of-living crisis. Therefore, the Government’s plans to raise the minimum energy performance grade to a C in 2025 will be in the spotlight even more so than it has been.

The cost and practicality of achieving this level of compliance in such a short period is daunting and there is talk of extending the deadline, however this has not been confirmed. We also know there is a shortage of qualified engineers able to undertake the work and landlords are themselves under financial pressure.

As agents, it is essential you understand the impact of this on clients and business. Make sure you are aware of all your stocks’ ratings, especially if you are property managing them. An assessment to see what the cost to bring the property up to the new standard, on any new or renewing EPC, should be done if the property is being rented, however this would be prudent to do on all properties, even if they are being sold to a private owner.

The Government is currently reviewing the EPC criteria, and there is talk that EPC ratings will have an impact on valuing a property in the near future.

Help your landlords source tradesmen qualified to do improvement to properties and signpost them to any potential source of funding. Local authorities, for example, have grants for low income and vulnerable tenants, which you may be able to access.

Regardless of whether the implementation is delayed, or the deadline seems ages away, do not leave all this to the last minute.

Find out more about decarbonising the sector in this episode of The Property Cast from Total Landlord and read their guide to having an eco property.

 

 

Expect the unexpected

As with any future gazing, you can only predict so far. We live in a volatile sector and many other things will be on your mind as a business. The above are just my take on things in the pipeline and how you can prepare for them. As I said, make sure you keep ahead of the game by ensuring you are getting regular and relevant information and guidance. A good way of doing this is to join HF Assist, our dedicated agent helpline, which, for a pay as you go fee gives you access to a professional advisor and our extensive resource centre of guides and tools to help your business comply and thrive now and in the future. Visit the HF Assist website for more information.  Total Landlord’s Knowledge Centre is another useful resource, which is regularly updated with articles, blogs and guides for landlords and agents.

 

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Property Redress Scheme is approved by Government under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015