Even though we can't predict what COVID will bring in the New Year, we can at least tell you what to expect in the world of lettings legislations...Right to rent checks will return to normal, and landlords and agents alike will need to start digitising their systems for Making Tax Digital. Plus, you'll need to keep tabs on the evolving energy crisis and plans to increase minimum energy efficiency standards - and prepare for the Renters' Reform Bill white paper, expected to land in early 2022.

Key dates in 2022

1 April 2022: Covid-19 adjusted right to rent checks (England)
The temporary measures to allow right to rent checks over video call and to share photocopies or photos of documents rather than the originals are expected to come to an end in April 2022. The government has shared that it's looking at ways to create a digital system for all checks, including for British and Irish citizens and retrospective checks of the original documents for the time that the temporary measures were in place are no longer required. There is already a new digital process in place for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, who can access a share code to prove their right to rent, plus rules for B5JSSK nationals have also been confirmed. Plus, to let your tenants know what to expect from the process, you can download a free referencing checklist to share with them.

1 April 2022: Making Tax Digital for VAT (UK)
As part of the government's plans to make HMRC "one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world", all agencies or landlords registered for VAT will need to sign up to Making Tax Digital, and keep digital VAT records and use software packages to submit their VAT returns from April 2022.

February 2022: Energy price cap increase to be announced
The government will announce in February 2022 how much the energy price cap will increase by. That increase will take effect on 1 April 2022, where energy bills will rise accordingly. Estate and letting agents should be aware of these dates to ensure you're prepared to understand your tenants' financial situations. You should also be prepared to support them with relevant information about the energy crisis, such as these free downloadable FAQ templates for your tenants and landlords.

Key dates in 2023 and Beyond

1 April 2023: ​​Economic Crime (Anti-Money Laundering) Levy (UK)
The Economic Crime (Anti-Money Laundering) Levy will apply to businesses that are regulated for anti-money laundering (AML), including estate and letting agencies. The levy will be charged based on companies that are regulated from 1 April 2022 to March 2023, meaning that the first payments will be due after 1 April 2023. It will be a fixed fee based on your agency's size.

Download your free anti-money laundering risk assessment template

6 April 2024: Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessments (UK)
For businesses registered for Income Tax Self Assessments and with an annual business or property income above £10,000, income and expenses will need to be submitted digitally four times a year, and allowances and adjustments at least once a year.

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.

Early 2022: Renters' Reform Bill white paper (England)
Proposals in the Renters' Reform Bill include abolishing section 21, strengthening section 8, and introducing lifetime tenant deposits - plus, the idea of a landlord register has also been raised as a possibility. A white paper on the proposals is expected in early 2022 to outline how these changes will be implemented. The government is currently in talks with key stakeholders to ensure a policy that takes into consideration a wide variety of views on the topic. Download your free guide to the Renters' Reform Bill proposals.

TBC: Building Safety Bill expected to receive royal assent
The Building Safety Bill is currently in the House of Commons, where it's awaiting Royal Assent - expected in Autumn 2023. Once received, the government has laid out a transition plan to outline how it will prioritise each key element. Some changes will take place in the first 12 months after Royal Assent - including changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which will clarify responsibilities in HMOs - while the bulk will come into force 12-18 months after - including new responsibilities for the "Accountable Person" when managing building safety risks in "occupied high-rise buildings".

TBC: Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) (England)
The Regulation of Property Agents report proposed three top recommendations for property agents: a new and independent property-agent regulator, a Code of Practice, and minimum entry requirements and mandatory professional development. Although many agents are starting to prepare now and achieve the expected qualifications, there is currently no date for when it will be introduced.

TBC: Making Tax Digital for Corporation Tax (UK)
A consultation on Making Tax Digital for Corporation Tax closed in March 2021. Although there is no set date for when this will become law, estate agencies and landlords operating as a limited company will need to prepare for the digitalisation of their systems to submit their Corporate Tax returns and keep digital accounting records.

If you have any questions or would to have a chat about any of the information in this blog, feel free to get in contact with myself on the details below.

Tristan Lee