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From new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) guidelines, constant tinkering with planning policy and changes to stamp duty, the property industry has seen its fair share of new legislation introduced this year.

With the changes impacting heavily on landlords, Ashleigh Phillips, Partner and Commercial Property Specialist at Bruton Knowles’ Plymouth office reflects on the flow-on effects of this legislation and its impact on the industry, asking is there now too much red tape? 

The expert commercial property team at Bruton Knowles has observed legislation on buying, renting and owning property in the UK evolve constantly to meet various Government targets, particularly financial and environmental and fulfil demand for housing and commercial property and the changing requirements of tenants. But over the past year, the policy machine has stepped up a gear. 

In April 2018, we saw the government implement its policy confirming that in order to lease commercial and residential properties, an Energy Performance Certificate rating of E or above must be in place. Various estimates suggest that 20% of properties across the UK do not comply. 

While the government’s housing and energy efficiency targets are certainly having an influence, the legislation and ambiguity surrounding compliance is creating a confusing and uncertain climate for some property owners and investors and posing a risk to some sectors in the property market. 

Landlords of both commercial and residential properties could find themselves facing months of lost income as they seek to refurbish their properties to meet the standards as failure to meet these conditions could result in heavy penalties for landlords or even prosecution. However, the cost of compliance could even force some property owners to sell assets, if those costs are too high.  

The Residential Landlords Association has already called for the Government to help landlords by ensuring work undertaken to meet the strict new EPC targets is tax deductible. 

In addition to this, a draft amendment to the Finance Bill outlined impending tax changes that would affect non-UK residents owning property in the country. The move meant they would be required to comply with a different filing and payment regime. 

The business rates landscape also goes from bad to worse with the new appeal system proving almost unworkable and designed to frustrate ratepayers and deny them access to a simple solution where their rateable value is incorrect.  

At Bruton Knowles, we’re working closely with our clients, to share our knowledge of the legislation and procedures to ensure they meet their legal requirements and are aware of their obligations and risks to their businesses and asset values if they are not compliant.

We always recommend actively keeping abreast of new policy and legislation if you own or occupy property. Seeking the help of an expert who can advise you on your obligations before it’s too late is always recommended. 

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