The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic brought dynamic changes to the UK’s commercial and residential real estate markets: people and businesses moved in and out of cities and between smaller and larger properties. Alongside these general trends, multiple real estate laws are changing too.
Restrictions on ground rent for leasehold properties
The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 will come into force on 30 June 2022. The Act introduces a prohibition in England and Wales on landlords charging ground rent (rent paid to the building owner to the landowner) on leasehold property when certain new residential leases are granted (eg leases for longer than 21 years). Large fines may be imposed on landlords who don’t comply.
This reform may be significant for people purchasing property as it’s currently not unusual for landlords to require annual ground rent (eg of a few hundred pounds), particularly for flats.
The Building Safety Act 2022
The Building Safety Act 2022 received Royal Assent and became law on 28 April 2022. The Act is largely a response to gaps in building safety law identified after the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017. The Act introduces new and strengthened safety requirements that parties involved in construction (eg property developers or landlords) must meet. For example:
- remediation orders can be made to compel a wider range of parties (eg landlords) to pay to remedy defects identified in new properties
- construction products manufacturers (ie businesses which produce building materials) can be required to pay to remedy buildings which have been negatively impacted by their products
- new build home warranties have been introduced. Developers must usually provide a 15-year warranty for new builds, during which they must remedy any defects in the property
New registration requirements
On 1 April 2022 Scotland introduced the Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land (RCI). The register creates a record of (most) people who can actually control or influence decision making about a piece of land despite not being the land’s legal owner. It’s hoped that this change will bring greater transparency to land ownership in Scotland and, therefore, more certainty for purchasers.
Following the trend towards transparency, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 introduces a requirement for overseas entities (ie companies and individuals governed by a non-UK jurisdiction) to register and declare the property’s beneficial owners (eg parties that own significant shares in or have a degree of control over the property). The new registration requirement aims to help tackle economic crime by increasing the transparency of UK land ownership.
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will come into force on 15 July 2022. Its provisions are expected to fundamentally change how property is rented in Wales. Changes include:
- the introduction of new terminology (eg tenants will be known as ‘contract holders’)
- changes to current tenancies and licences. Most will become either standard occupation contracts (for tenancies with private landlords) or secure occupation contracts (for tenancies issued by local authorities or Registered Social Landlords)
- the introduction of new standard terms which must be included in all new contracts
- new eviction procedures (eg requiring at least 6 months’ notice for all no-fault evictions)
Read What does the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 mean for me? for more information.
Pandemic changes are coming to an end
Some of the temporary real estate law changes introduced in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will soon come to an end. For example, relaxed requirements for right to rent checks will end on 30 September 2022.
Real estate law is always changing. Landlords, buyers, and parties involved in construction are always subject to new regulations and requirements. You can Ask a lawyer for help navigating these.