While we have all been preoccupied with the unfolding events of COVID-19, the clocks have not stopped ticking and time continues to unfold before us, April has appeared on our calendar and with that a new tax year has emerged. Amongst all the uncertainty in the world right now, we wanted to summarise the tax legislation that has become effective as of April 2020.
- With immediate effect, anyone who sells a property on which capital gains tax is payable will be required to pay an estimate of the tax within 30 days of the sale completing - a huge reduction from the existing grace period of between 10 and 22 months.
- lettings relief - which allows landlords to claim tax relief when letting a property in which they used to live - will only apply for any period in which the owner has occupied the property at the same time as tenants.
- Exemption of principal private residence relief - which is provided to landlords selling a property they have previously used as their main residence – will also be reduced from 18 months to nine months.
These reforms coincide with another crucial tax change affecting landlords - the final stage of Section 24, which involves the removal of buy to let mortgage interest tax relief. This means that landlords will only be able claim a tax credit on buy-to-let mortgage interest at the basic rate of income tax, currently 20 per cent.
These are significant and complex changes to the industry however understandably have received minimal media coverage given the current pandemic we are living through. It is worth speaking with a tax advisor prior to making any decisions relating to property sales at this point. We are on hand to assist during this time, so please feel free to contact us where we can signpost you to the appropriate information.
While the industry is very challenging at the moment, we truly believe that there will always be a need for quality rental properties and your position as a private landlord is vital in providing accommodation. We are committed to helping you weather this storm and continue to run a successful, compliant and profitable property portfolio moving forward.
Interest rates have been slashed dramatically over the past few weeks and mortgage rates are at an all-time low. The property sales market is expected to suffer as a result of COVID-19 and it is expected that there will need to be substantial incentives to ease the market liquidity and recovery moving forward. If you are looking to invest in additional properties post COVID-19 (and we are passionate about looking forward to this all being over), please send us over portal links to any properties which may be of interest to you. While you may not be able to view/ offer on these properties, we can advise you on investment hotspots and potential rental values for any of these. If you would like to speak with a mortgage advisor to discuss your options further, please contact us and we can put you in contact with somebody to assist.
Gas safety checks
*Please note if we currently arrange maintenance for your property, we will be comply with all the below guidance on your behalf*
Current guidance from the government states that work can still be carried out in people’s homes where necessary, for example if it would implicate the safety of the occupants, providing GOV.UK guidance on social distancing is adhered to.
The law does however lead to some flexibility where it is not possible to carry out a gas safety check, it will normally be enough to show that you took reasonable steps to do so. In the event you are unable to gain access to the property (for example tenant refusal due to self-isolating or being unable to engage a gas engineer to carry out the works) you must demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law. This should include records of communication with tenants and engineers and recorded attempts to gain access. You should seek to arrange a gas safety check at the earliest convenience once all parties are available.
Landlords should not suspend all gas safety checks as it unnecessarily puts tenants at increased risk. Each property should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, completing checks where tenants permit access and engineers are available and capable to work.
As this is a unfolding issue, guidance changes regularly. Gas safe have summarised their position and it can be monitored using the link below;
Reduction in ‘business’
We have been advised that no viewings, check outs, inspections or inventories should be taking place, unless they are essential to prevent homelessness or to provide safe homes for key workers; In these instances of contractual obligations, the guidance of maintaining safe social distancing must be adhered to. Landlords remain legally obliged to ensure their property meets safety standards and therefore urgent essential repairs must continue. Non-essential works should be embargoed but records should be kept to detail communication explaining this to tenants clarifying that these repairs will be completed once ‘lock down’ restrictions are lifted.
Working with tenants during COVID-19
We continue to liaise with your tenants on your behalf during this time, supporting them and signposting them to the appropriate help available and to ensure they are able to continue to meet their financial contractual obligations. We will inform you should your tenant have difficulty paying their rent.
We hope you are keeping safe and positive during this time. We look forward to a time when we can return to normality but during this uncertainty we remain on hand to help you navigate this horizon; we are in this together.
Kind regards and best wishes
Domenica, Daniella & David