Gas Safe, EICR and More Covid Analysis

Some interesting changes to electrical regulations and gas safety have come into force in the last few weeks.

For all new tenancies in England and Wales, starting from July 2020, you now have to obtain an Electric Installation Condition Report (EICR) proving the electrics are safe.

These have to be renewed every 5 years. (This brings them into line with HMOs, which have had to have them for some years now).

If you have had a major upgrade in recent years, say a new consumer unit was put in, make sure to get the Installation Report for that, as this will also count. So, if that was done say 2 years ago, you won’t need to get a new EICR done for another 3 years, as the previous report will count instead (according to the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA)).

If you are not starting a new tenancy, you won’t need to have an EICR done right now, but the new rules will apply to ALL tenancies – i.e. including existing tenancies – from 1st April 2021.

There could be quite a rush on at that time, as people will be scrambling around for electricians to do the work. So, I’d advise booking an electrician in right now, well before April comes round.

EICR reports typically cost about £150 for a three bed house in London.

Of course, on top of that, there is also the extra work that may need to be done, say if your electrics are found to not be up to scratch – and they may well not be – because electrical regulations have changed often over the years.

The cost of this can be quite big. A full rewire with a fuse board could start at around £4,000 for a 3 bedroom house.

You will have to have any remedial or investigative work done within 28 days of the report being produced.

At this point, I must take my hat off (again) to the electricians’ various trade bodies for doing a great job of creating work for their members over the years, with umpteen changes to requirements, something of a scandal in my opinion. Sparkies often complain about the cost of their membership of NICEIC or other bodies, but I believe their trade bodies do a fine job in return – creating work for members.

Electrical contractors prefer to do work when a house is empty, e.g. between tenants, as it makes it easier to find all the necessary plugs and sockets. If a house is occupied, doing it when tenants are out of the house is the next best option.

But book early. Electricians often prefer big site work as they don’t like navigating around a messy, occupied house or scary pets.

Gas Safe Certificates

Another interesting piece of news concerns Gas Safe Certificates. An Appeal Court ruling (see Trecarrell v Rouncefield) ruled that it did not matter if one of these was not issued at tenancy inception, but could be given to the tenant after the tenancy started. (In this case the landlord had done it, but had forgotten to show it to the tenant.)

This is significant because many landlords who had omitted to give one to their tenant at tenancy start, (or to be able to prove that they had), had found they could not obtain possession via a Section 21 procedure, even if they gave it to their tenant a month late.

However, I understand the tenant in this case wants to appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court, so we will have to sit and wait on this decision.

In the meantime, my advice for landlords is to attach the latest Gas Safe Certificate to the tenancy agreement and have the tenant sign to say they have seen it, along with the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the “How to Rent” leaflet.

Plus, make sure to include in the tenancy agreement, a statement to agree that smoke alarms work.

And don’t forget to protect the tenancy deposit and send the certificate and associated guide for this by email to the tenant within 14 days.

COVID – House Prices and Rents Latest

Right now, I’m feeling pretty happy. All my tenants are paid up on their rent and the big drop in base rate was nice – given that almost all my mortgages are on old, historic base rate trackers.

I have also been surprised by how rents have held up – and house prices too.

But I expect house prices will not fall until autumn when many folks find their furlough cheque is replaced with a dole cheque. I still think they will end the year 10% down on average, though with big regional variations.

I feel quite happy that all but one of our properties are houses that have their own gardens, which is increasingly important these days. Proximity to cycle routes is good too. Rents and house prices for such properties will out-perform.

Plus, my move in recent years to buy into more outer-suburban locations will pay off as people may see less long term need to be living in the centre of cities, at least for a few years.

My houses in Gravesend, Kent will also feel the impact of the London Resort Holdings theme park, construction of which will now start in 2021. This will be Europe’s largest entertainment park, since the Paris Disney one was built. And when the Elizabeth (Cross Rail) extension to Ebbsfleet International Terminal happens, as I believe it eventually will, that will boost Gravesend and Dartford further too.

So what’s “NOT HOT” (as Sasha Baron Cohen’s fashion show obsessed character, Bruno, might have said).

Covid and Student accommodation

I’ve never been a fan of student housing with all the big boys moving in, with their shiny towers and government backing.

It is too much extra work for not enough marginal return.

And as more Covid-frightened snowflake overseas students stay at home, I’m even less of a fan.

Plus, I think, people are now realising that the way academic stuff is taught has to change. (13th century based approach and term times in the 21st Century anyone?). People are now realising university education is actually less financially rewarding long-term than most apprenticeships, especially if you are not graduating from a prestige institution.

Covid and Holiday Lets

Get real, most people in these quaint Cornish, Norfolk and Welsh towns hate you bloody “out of towners”. Even the restaurant and bar owners hate you when it is low season, if only for the sin of driving local house prices out of their reach of their kids.

Do you need the seething dislike, which, with Covid is even more out in the open than before?

Covid and City AirBnBs

City centre AirBnB is surely dead for a quite a bit. No one much is travelling for business and few are going on city breaks for pleasure.

Avoid. (However, the decline of City AirBnB must be a great result for home dwellers in mansion blocks, no longer plagued by temporary guests tramping out of the lifts with their suitcases and partying late).

Covid and CoronaPanic Latest

As I write, the death rate per day in the UK from Covid19 is 1.2 per million people. And yet the panic and insane measures go on – and the government appears to have drifted from “flattening the curve” to “eradication”.

But we cannot expect the supine main stream media (with the honourable exception of the Daily Telegraph) to ask the government what the heck its long term strategy now is.

Nor can we expect them to publish the current death rate – and so people continue to believe it is hundreds or thousands of times higher than it really is.

And down under, police in Australia have reacted with increasing brutality to those who question the need for masks or refuse to give their names at road blocks.

New Zealand, meanwhile, seems to think it can hide under the duvet for years to come, devoid of foreign tourists, under the impression it can somehow avoid the inevitable.

The insanity will go on for a while yet.

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4 comments

  • thanks David for your August update. My family have been going to a cottage my grandma bought on the hills behind Harlech for the last 50 years or more. I am not sure all the locals do still dislike the visitors. While some might their economy is pretty reliant on the tourists so I imagine it is a mixed emotion. But the real question is your two short paras didn’t really make an economic case for or against Holiday Let’s as a business opportunity. To explain my position I am getting an estuary view one bed in Cornwall with a friend (first time doing property in partnership with someone else) to reduce the level of risk and financial exposure. Just wondering what your view is beyond how the locals feel about visitors. From what I can see Cornwall is becoming more popular out of the traditional seasons and assuming you have the right person to manage the bookings well at not too high a cost there is the prospect of a high margin return and even the chance to pop down oneself when its empty. Everyone can work away from the office now, so arguably one can also work when away from home and head off to the coast.

    • Yes, you make a fair case.
      Certainly later in the season there was a big demand for UK breaks from people too scared to travel abroad on a plane. That may persist for some time.
      I always think locals take more to people who actually come and stay in their homes for longer (especially if they work and bring cash into the local economy).
      In the town where I grew up, they will still refer to newcomers as DFLs, short for Down From London, for quite a long time, after they have moved their fully!

  • Thanks for your update. However I’m sure that the changes in relation to EICH’s only come into force in England at the moment ? I understand that they have been mentioned in the White Paper in Wales but nothing has come to fruition as of yet, although no doubt we will follow suit in due course !

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