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Mortgage lending hits 14-year high – January 4, 2022

Data from UK Finance shows that 2021 was the strongest year for mortgage lending in 14 years, with £316bn of home loans issued. This was the highest annual total since the £357bn recorded in 2007. James Tatch, head of data and research at UK Finance, said: “We’re seeing a return to a stable path for new lending” for 2022 onwards, adding that more remortgaging activity is expected to take place in 2022 and that this could accelerate further in 2023. Noting that a number of five-year fixed-rate mortgage deals will end in two years’ time, he said this “will provide a boost to remortgage numbers.”
The Guardian

London house prices ‘to rise 25% by 2026’ – November 25, 2021

A study from the property group JLL indicates that increased demand to live to the capital after the height of the pandemic, combined with the return of the overseas buyer, will boost the London housing market over the next five years. JLL predicts prices in London will rise 24.5% by 2026, out-acing national house price growth of 20% over the same period. “There is a bounce back in urban demand in London as people once again reset priorities around where they live and opt to stay and move within the city, rather than leaving,” says Nick Whitten, head of residential research for JLL. “In particular we are seeing people buy in those neighbourhoods which have a village feel as they balance convenience and transport with space and greenery,” he explains.
Evening Standard

How to maximise income from your holiday home in 2022 – October 29, 2021

Since the start of the pandemic, recent figures have shown that more than 11,000 second-home owners in England have opened their properties to become holiday lets.
Second-home owners have utilised their properties to take advantage of the staycation demand and to secure additional income during the pandemic.
Here, Emily Turner, sales and marketing director at Perfect Stays, helpfully offers her four top tips on how you can maximise your investment going into the off-season.

Intelligent pricing strategy
Having a detailed understanding of your customers’ booking habits is vital if you want to maximise rental rates. Your pricing needs to be tailored for each week throughout the year to suit visitor demand in your local area. Prices also need to remain competitive to your local market while adjusting to suit seasonal trends.
To start, look at visitor data for your region and when numbers peak. Depending on your location, this may correlate with national bank holidays, school holidays or popular local events. Once you’ve built up a picture of visitor behaviour and the local market, you’ll be in a position to create a pricing structure that maximises rental rates.

Unique features
Investing in unique features that will make your property stand out will help to maximise revenue. Features such as a hot tub, wood burners and games rooms help your property book well in the colder off-season months and can help raise rental rates.
Winter can traditionally be a quieter time for holiday homes but by creating a cosy feel you can increase the appeal of your property during this period, attract more visitors and boost your annual revenue.
The key is making your home a comfy and enticing retreat for the whole family to spend time together so offering guests activities or key features that keep them occupied indoors if the weather takes the turn for the worse, will entice potential holiday-goers to book with you.
Although items like hot tubs are not an insignificant initial investment, the increased number of bookings and associated rental rates you’ll achieve will have a significant benefit in the longer term, offering you a good return on investment and ensuring your property stands out to visitors all year round.

Location is an important factor for guests when considering which holiday home to book and what they want to get out of their stay. Accommodation is only one part of the experience so share details on what guests can enjoy doing in the local area and highlight unique amenities like sea views, beaches, great restaurant and historical sights etc. Offering guests more than just the accommodation will entice them to pay more and stay longer.

Making your holiday home dog-friendly is a sure way to boost bookings from the pandemic puppy boom. According to the latest Google data, searches for ‘dog friendly holidays’ have seen a 179% increase in the UK since the start of the pandemic.
Cater to the demand by ensuring your property is pet safe. If possible, make sure your garden is fully enclosed and designate a suitable place the dog can sleep unsupervised overnight, such as a utility room.
With a very high percentage of UK holiday makers wanting to get away with their dog, accepting pets will expand your property’s appeal to a wider market and enable you to increase booking levels all year round. Although many owners worry about the potential damage dogs may cause to a property, issues are extremely rare and charging a small fee for each dog will cover any additional cleaning required.

I want to buy a new house and turn mine into rental property. Do I have to pay capital gains tax? – October 11, 2021

I also plan to put the rental into trust for my son when he turns 18, but I am confused about the levy.

Question: I am really confused about capital gains tax. I’ve just put an offer on a second house, in which I plan to live. I also plan to release equity from my current home and turn it into a rental property as it is very lettable. I bought my current home approximately 13 years ago for £130,000. It is now worth £265,000. My hope is to release 75% of the equity in it to buy my new house.

What capital gains tax will I have to pay? It was rented out for two years when I worked abroad and I plan to rent it out for another five years after I buy my new home. I only have estimates of solicitors’ fees and so on when buying the house I plan to let as I didn’t keep records and lost some documents when I went to work abroad.

I’m also considering letting it only for another two-and-a-half years after I move out so I can reclaim stamp duty costs. And also hoping to putit into trust for my son when he turns 18 so he will not be liable for inheritance tax and also because I will not need the income generated from it as a rental at that point.

A You are right, you really are confused about capital gains tax (CGT). This tax on the gains made on assets – such as property or shares – does not come into play until the asset has been disposed of. So, in your case, not until you sell the house or give it to your son, although if you give it to him via a trust apparently there is potential for avoiding CGT using something called “holdover relief” – but if you want to know more about that you’ll have to ask a specialist accountant.

CGT does not come into play when you raise cash from a property by taking out a mortgage, which is what I assume you will do to release the equity from your current home – I can’t think how else you would do it.

As for reclaiming the extra stamp duty land tax (SDLT) that you will have to pay on your new home (because you won’t have sold your current home), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) says that you “must have sold your previous main residence within three years of buying the new property [on which you would have paid the higher rate of SDLT] to qualify for a refund”. Giving the proposed rental property to your son – whether via a trust or as a straight gift – does not appear to count as selling the property for the purposes of determining whether you are entitled to an SDLT refund.

Finally, if you want to keep things simple and you expect to live a long and happy life, you could simply give your son the rental property when he turns 18 and live for a further seven years to avoid inheritance tax. But if you want to retain some kind of control over the property and you do not mind complicating things, you’ll need to talk to a legal professional as to which sort of trust would be most suitable for your situation.

House price growth slows – October 4, 2021

Data from Nationwide shows that UK house price growth slowed in September, with the average price up by just 0.1% over the month, with this far lower than the growth of 2% recorded in August. The month-on-month increase means the average price hit £248,742 last month. The report also shows that annual house price growth in September came in at 10%, down from 11% in August. Reflecting on the data, Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, noted the impact of the tapering stamp duty holiday, adding that “activity is likely to soften” now the tax break has been withdrawn, with the threshold back to £125,000 as of today.
BBC News City A.M. Daily Mail The Guardian

Growing number of British expat landlords admit tax evasion – September 23, 2021

Data shared by UHY Hacker Young show UK expats who own a buy-to-let property in the UK are increasingly coming forward to HMRC admitting they have evaded tax. Nearly 250 overseas investors in UK buy-to-let properties confessed to tax evasion in the year up to 31 March. Many of these people are UK expats living abroad rather than foreign investors. “It’s likely some landlords have been underpaying tax, either accidentally or deliberately, in the hope they would be overlooked by HMRC,” explained Philip Kinzett-Evans, a partner at UHY Hacker Young. “Landlords must ensure that they correctly account for all income and pay HMRC precisely what it is owed. If they fail to do so, the repercussions could be severe.” The penalty for undeclared UK rental income is up to 100 per cent of the amount of tax HMRC believes is owed.
City A.M.

Loan costs fall for first-timers – September 14, 2021

Moneyfacts data shows that competition to offer low mortgage rates is starting to trickle down to first-time buyers, with costs for those with a 5% deposit falling more than a fifth in six months. The average rate for borrowers looking for a 95% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgage is now 3.57% compared to the 4.47% average recorded in April. Meanwhile, average rates for borrowers with a 10% deposit have dropped from 3.45% to 2.85%. The figures also shows that the average cost of a mortgage at 60% LTV dropped from 1.77% in September 2020 to 1.63% in April, a far bigger move that that seen on 95% LTV deals, with these dropping slightly from 4.48% to 4.47%. Research by mortgage broker L&C shows that the best rate for first-time buyers is the 2.98% offering from Skipton Building Society, while the best short-term fixed rate is Santander’s 0.84%, available at 60% LTV for two years. Santander’s 0.99% five-year fix, also at 60% LTV, is the best longer-term deal.
The Sunday Times

Rent rises slow but no falls forecast for rest of 2021 at least – August 17, 2021

The Hamptons lettings agency says the rate of annual rental growth is slowing slightly – but there’s no suggestion of a rent fall this year.

In its latest market snapshot it says rents across Britain rose 6.2 per cent in July compared to the same month in 2020, but that was down from 8.5 per cent in June.

Southern regions, except for London, recorded the strongest annual growth.

Last month saw five of Britain’s 11 regions record their fastest ever yearly rent rise since the Hamptons Lettings Index began in 2014. Rental growth hit double-digits in four regions, down from six regions in June.

Inner London rents continued their recovery, down 11.0 per cent on the same time last year. This compares to an annual fall of 16.5 per cent in June and 20.3 per cent in May.

Here the number of tenants registering was up 13 per cent year-on-year, while the number of homes available to rent was down 45 per cent on 2020’s record highs.

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, comments: “Tenants are suffering from less choice in the rental market. And this lack of stock is underpinning rental growth, which remains well above normal levels, with few signs it’s likely to significantly slow over the coming months.

“This lack of stock is also likely to suppress activity, meaning fewer homes could be let in 2021 than in 2020, despite last year’s lockdown.”

Property shortage – which UK regions need more rental properties? – August 10, 2021

A disparity between property demand and supply has risen across the UK. This has created opportunities for buy-to-let landlords to invest in regions around England. The shortage of stock in the current rental market was recently analysed by Sequre Property Investment.

By examining the stock levels of private rented homes in each region in England and comparing them with the number of available rental listings in the same area, Sequre Property Investment was able to accumulate a list of regions that might be of interest to investors.

Rental property demand in the UK
According to the Build to Let specialist there are approximately 4.7 million privately rented homes across England. Out of these properties 3.6% of the national total, around 168,634 homes, are currently on the market looking for new tenants. Meaning investors could take advantage of this opportunity.

Sequre Property Investment claims that regions there is the most need for more rental homes are a good opportunity for buy-to-let investors to invest.

In contrast, the data shows there could be higher demand in some regions due to a lower percentage of available rental homes, as opposed to the size of the overall rental market.

UK regions the rental market can consider
In the South West, there are around 520,000 private rental homes yet 7,802 of these are available to rent – just 1.5% are part of the total rental market.

Sales director at Sequre Property Investment, Daniel Jackson, adds: “So much attention is given to the sales market, not least in the wake of Covid-19, but the rental market remains far more relevant for many millions of people in this country. These people need homes – good quality, secure homes – and yet the buy-to-let industry has come under attack from a government that has a vision of England where everybody owns and nobody rents.”

But this isn’t a vision that most people share and so, despite the government’s best efforts, choosing to invest in a region with a lack of available rental properties on the market means you have a great chance of securing reliable, long-term tenancies in high-demand markets.”

The North accounted for the next three lowest levels of available rental properties, making it possibly one of the better opportunities for buy-to-let investors to invest.

Across the North West of England, 2.2% of estimated private rental homes are available to rent. North East has 2.4% and Yorkshire and the Humber has 2.5% of private rental properties are available to rent.

In the East and West Midlands, the total of available rental properties is 3.1% and the East of England is 3.2%

The South East (3.7%) and London (7.2%) are the only regions to sit above the national benchmark.


Rented Homes Lag Behind In Energy Efficiency Drive – August 3, 2021

Official figures published this week show that 85 per cent of new homes in England and Wales now qualify for one of the two highest energy efficient band ratings.

Energy Performance Certificates are mandatory for all domestic buildings, old or new, owner-occupied or rented.

‘This Government acted decisively to keep the housing market open and operating safely during the pandemic. We are now seeing the benefit as these latest figures indicate an increase in supply of green homes’, said Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.

Not only do we want to build back better, we want to make sure homes across the nation are fit for the future, better for the environment and more affordable for home-owners to heat. Our environmental targets will be fair and affordable to everyone.’

But the National Residential Landlords Association has complained that not enough is being done to support improvement of energy efficiency in rented homes.

Only one in twenty private rented households have received Government help to fund energy efficiency measures ‘despite having the greatest need’, it pointed out this week.

‘Although more of those classed as fuel-poor live in the sector, private rented households received only half of the help given to those in the social sector’.

According to the English Housing Survey, a third of private rented sector housing was built before 1919, said NRLA. ‘This is the hardest to treat and accounts for a larger proportion of the sector than for any other housing tenure. Across England’s entire housing stock, 84 per cent of properties built before 1919 had an energy rating or D or worse.

‘With 62 per cent of private rented homes having an energy rating of D or below this will largely account for why 37 per cent of all households classed as fuel-poor are in the private rented sector compared to 23 per cent in the social sector.

‘Data shows that 97 per cent of private rented properties with an energy rating of D or lower could reach C or better’.

The Government wants all new private rented tenancies agreed from 1 April 2025 to be in properties with an energy performance rating of C or better. And according to its own figures, it would cost an average of over £7,500 to bring rental properties needing it to an energy rating of at least C.

But, said NRLA, ‘this makes the Government’s ambitions to improve the energy efficiency of the rental housing stock a pipe dream when the average net annual rental income for a private landlord is less than £4,500’.

It has called for a bespoke financial package to support the improvements that are needed, including a right to offset the cost of energy efficiency improvements against income in the way that repairs and maintenance costs are allowed as tax deduction.

‘We all want to see energy efficient rental homes. They cut bills for tenants, make homes more attractive to potential renters and help the country to achieve its net zero commitment. The Chancellor needs to develop a financial support package that works for landlords and tenants’, said NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle.

Mortgages refused for self-employed who received coronavirus grants – July 23, 2021

Some high street banks are refusing to give mortgages to self-employed people who received government grants during the pandemic. Some lenders are refusing mortgage applications from people who took the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant, while others ask for evidence of the businesses having recovered from the pandemic. BBC News research also found that most lenders will not accept mortgage applications from people currently on furlough. It was also found that many do not include furloughed income as part of their affordability assessment. The report also highlights that self-employed people may have to find larger deposits. Some of these policies seemingly go against assurances from the Financial Conduct Authority, with a spokesperson for the regulator saying coronavirus support schemes “should not, of themselves, prevent people from being able to access credit.”
BBC News

UK property sales hit new record in June – July 22, 2021

Property sales in the UK hit a new record level in June, according to figures from HMRC. An estimated 213,120 sales were completed during the month – more than twice the total in May. Some 428,620 house sales took place in the second quarter of this year – the highest quarterly figure since the third quarter of 2007 and the highest total for the second quarter of any year on HMRC’s records. Experts say a rush to buy before the end of the stamp duty holiday fuelled the boom, but with demand outstripping supply, prices are expected to keep on rising.
BBC News The Daily Telegraph The Times Daily Mail

House prices expected to continue rising – April 13, 2021

Figures from Halifax on Friday show house prices rose 1.1% during March, the biggest increase in six months. In annual terms, prices rose 6.5%, the strongest reading in four months and taking the average house price to a record high £254,606, Halifax said. The lender added that it expected the upturn to persist in the next few months as consumer confidence grows on the back of Britain’s swift COVID-19 vaccine rollout. “However, with the economy yet to feel the full effect of its biggest recession in more than 300 years, we remain cautious about the longer-term outlook,” Halifax added.
Daily Mail

What a Covid vaccine could mean for the property market – March 29, 2021

The coronavirus vaccine roll-out is going far better than any of us could ever have imagined, with more than a third of adults having already received their first dose, allowing us all a glimmer of hope of a return to normal life.

We still have a long way to go but in the short term, the vaccination programme is injecting much more than the power to create antibodies into our systems; it’s giving us confidence – and we all know that consumer confidence is intrinsically linked to the success of the property market.

Despite the economic uncertainty of 2020, the property market rode the storm remarkably well, with house prices stimulated by the stamp duty holiday as well as a general desire for more space at home and easier access to green spaces outdoors.

In 2021, the success of the vaccine roll-out is already having a positive impact on the economy, with the Office for Budget Responsibility predicting GDP will grow by 4% this year and regain its pre-pandemic level in the second quarter of 2022, six months earlier than it forecast last November, just before the vaccination programme began.

But there are still many hurdles to overcome and the economic picture could look very different once the government’s life support system of grants and reliefs is finally switched off.

For example, the business rates holiday has been extended to the end of June but after that commercial tenants – or, in the case of vacant properties, their owners – will once again have to foot the bill once any subsequent empty property relief comes to an end. And for those who own multiple commercial premises which cannot be let due to lack of demand, that bill could be a huge one.

We have already seen an increase in commercial properties being offered for sale by auction. Many of these are tenanted but their owners are astute enough to future-proof their portfolios rather than waiting to see if their tenants’ businesses can survive without government support.

These landlords are already anticipating that there won’t be enough tenants to go round, increasing the cost of ownership and potentially having a negative impact on values, making them reconsider if their commercial properties are assets worth hanging on to.

In the residential property market, the stamp duty holiday has boosted both demand and prices and its extension will have been welcomed by many. But unpredictable sale-to-completion times means even the new deadlines carry an element of risk and this unpredictability has already driven many private sellers and estate agents to take advantage of the speed and certainty of auction, many for the first time, to ensure completion takes place before the deadline.

Not all extensions have been welcomed so warmly within the property industry, namely the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions in England now runs until the end of May. When this is lifted, there could be a huge backlog of cases to work through, meaning landlords are unable to take possession of their properties as quickly as they’d hoped and still have their own overheads to cover. Many landlords will choose to cut their losses instead, selling their property with a tenant in situ to free up capital to reinvest later.

We can expect more movement in the whole of the property market this year, as by summer, most of us should have been vaccinated and feeling more comfortable about heading back out into the world.

Feeling fortified by the protection bestowed by the vaccine, not only will people be keen to socialise, eat out and go on holiday – all of which we hope they will approach sensibly – they should also feel more confident about considering the next stage of their lives.

After a year of living in limbo – whether furloughed or swamped by work – many people will be ready for change, perhaps a new home or a new job. Couples may be ready to move to a bigger property to provide space for a home office or to accommodate a growing family. Alternatively, months of close-quarter living may have put undue strain on the relationship and they may be looking to move into two smaller properties following a split.

Arla Propertymark’s Private Rented Sector Report showed a surge in demand for rental property in January, rising to 81 registered prospective tenants per branch from 64 in December, and I expect demand to remain high throughout the year.

Shrewd investors will anticipate this increased demand and buy now so they have rental ready homes to let when they are needed. This will also enable them to take advantage of the extended stamp duty holidays, potentially saving thousands even when the 3% second homes surcharge (4% in Wales) is taken into consideration.

Preparing a home to let creates work for tradespeople, while tenants and buyers alike will be eager to put their own stamp on their new homes with furniture and décor items, again illustrating the important links between the property market and the wider economy.

As the economy begins to recover, job opportunities may open up to graduates, who may need to relocate, while other young adults who have been living with parents will be more than ready to spread their wings. For this age group house shares and HMOs, particularly those with big communal spaces, will remain a popular choice as a reaction to the loneliness and isolation that many single people felt during lockdown.

We all know that consumer confidence – or lack of it – is a critical component in the property market, with the ability to drive prices up or down. Similarly, rental increases are ultimately driven by tenants’ ability to pay, which is naturally linked to the state of the economy. So if the successful vaccine roll-out can boost the economy as well as allow us to hug our families and meet our mates at the pub, then we should all feel able to look forward to much brighter days ahead.

Stamp duty holiday boosts sales by almost 140% – February 23, 2021

The stamp duty holiday has restored housing transactions to the highest level since 2007, according to the Centre for Policy Studies. Following an initial sharp decline in sales between April-June 2020, the number of transactions increased from 132,090 in the second quarter to 225,870 in the third and 316,300 by the end of the fourth – the highest level since before the global financial crisis in 2007-08. The think tank’s research shows that stamp duty revenues actually rose by 27% in the third quarter compared to the previous three months, from £1.1bn to £1.35bn, and suggests they will rise again in the last quarter of the year given the continued increase in transactions. The stamp duty holiday has helped hundreds of thousands of homeowners – the CPS’s research shows that 87% of people buying a primary home escaped the deeply unpopular tax thanks to t he holiday, a figure which rises to 93% outside of London and the South East.
Source: Business Money

Landlords have no choice but to evict after new Universal Credit hitch – February 9, 2021

Landlords with tenants on Universal Credit are struggling to set up Alternative Payment Arrangements because the UC portal is closed to new claimants.

As a result, some landlords are obliged to serve notice on tenants according to specialist advice service Caridon Landlord Solutions.

It says the Department for Work and Pension is overwhelmed by new claims, and in response the department has closed access to the portal for new claimants.

“The pressure that DWP must be under due to the rise in claimants is enormous, but when tenants are struggling to meet their rent payments, we know that APAs not only have a significant impact on limiting arrears, they also help to sustain the tenancy” says Sherrelle Collman, Caridon’s managing director.

“The government wants landlords to support tenants, but there has to be a middle ground. The landlords we are speaking to say they are going back and forth on the phone, only to be told they will be called back by a case manager, then hearing nothing” she continues.

“We’ve seen a 20 per cent uplift in landlords wanting our assistance to set up APAs, and all were at the point where they were considering serving notice to their tenants because they had no other choice.”

Last year the DWP launched an online landlord portal to allow landlords to verify rent and submit managed payment requests online, rather than by email.

This meant if a tenant was having difficulty meeting rent payments, the landlord could request to set up an APA, ensuring the housing element of the tenant’s Universal Credit payment would be paid directly to the landlord.

Many tenants, particularly in the social sector, find this an easier way to help them budget.

However, Caridon says that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people claiming Universal Credit across the UK has risen from 2.9m in February 2020 to 5.9m in January 2021.

Many of these people will be tenants who previously signed up to private tenancies based on their income at the time, but due to Covid-19 are now facing changes to their employment status and finding that Universal Credit simply does not cover their rent.

Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action – who is also inundated with calls from desperate landlords – adds: “Universal Credit faces heavy criticism from landlords and tenants at the best of times. If landlords are now confronted with yet another barrier to access direct payments, it is inevitable that many more landlords will be encouraged to serve notice on those tenants in receipt of Universal Credit, which goes against the government’s intensions.”

And he continues: “Clearly the government needs to provide more resource to facilitate the onboarding and management of the Universal Credit system so that landlords and tenants can work together.

“Many landlords with tenants who have suddenly had to start claiming Universal Credit are aware that their tenants cannot meet previous rental payments, but if a portion of it is allocated to the landlord then that provides a temporary solution for both parties, helping to sustain the tenancy for longer.”

Living large – rents for larger homes spiked in Q4 2020 – January 26, 2021

UK rent levels continued to rise faster for larger properties during the last quarter of 2020, according to The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS).

Its latest quarterly Rent Index, which is based on 1.8 million current tenancies, shows that the average monthly cost of renting a detached property in the UK between October and December 2020 was £1,055 – 2.83% more than in the previous quarter and 5.71% more than Q4 2019.

Average rent for semi-detached homes increased to £847 in Q4 2020 – 2.29% more than in Q3 and 4.05% more than in the same period the previous year.

While the rate of increase in the cost of renting a flat rose faster in Q4 than earlier in the year, it grew at a much slower rate than larger properties, reaching £803 – 1.01% more than in Q3 and 1.13% more than in Q4 2019.

Matt Trevett, managing director at The DPS, says: “Lockdown has meant many more people are spending longer at home, including far more extensive remote working, and as a consequence more tenants are seeking larger properties with more space.”

“While there seems to be a particular focus on detached and semi-detached properties, the rental market as a whole remained remarkably resilient throughout much of 2020, despite broader economic uncertainties and restrictions that affected home viewings and public movement during the first national lockdown.”

Which region saw declining rents?

Rents in London continued to drop during Q4, standing at £1,317 – 0.38% lower than in Q3 and 2.08% less than the previous year.

This drop was biggest in Central London, where average rent was £1,377 in Q4 2020 – 1.01% less than Q3 2020 and 3.77% less than the same period in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, the capital remains proportionately the most expensive area to rent, with costs standing at 39% of average UK income.

Two other regions experienced a decline in average rent between Q3 and Q4 2020 – the North East, where it fell 1.70% to £520, and Yorkshire, which saw a fall of 2.15% to £546.

The North East remained the cheapest region during Q4 2020, with rents 23% of the average UK income.

Asbestos: what are your responsibilities as a property owner? – January 14, 2021

It’s common knowledge that asbestos is a highly damaging group of microscopic fibres that can severely impact the health of our lungs if inhaled. Many wonder if there is an actual need for asbestos considering how dangerous it can be if not dealt with correctly.

As of 1999, the use for asbestos was banned in the UK. However, during the 1950s-80s, asbestos was commonly used in buildings due to its strong resistance to chemical attacks, its poor ability to conduct heat, and its overall superb tensile strength.

With this in mind, it is important that property owners take on the responsibility of checking their buildings for this substance in order to protect their occupancies.

Asbestos and the dangers it involves

As previously mentioned, asbestos was a mineral fibre commonly used in building structures and additional maintenance work such as water supply lines, roofing materials, and for building insulation.

But when asbestos is inhaled, the fibres become trapped within your alveoli where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. Since the fibres are lodged, they can irritate and scar lung tissue, resulting in damage or scarring of your lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

Although the immediate effects of inhaling asbestos may not be noticed at first, this can severely impact your health later in life. Health conditions such as asbestosis — an inflammatory disease that results in the scarring of the lungs — are a potential risk. In addition to this, cancer of the lungs can occur.

Taking health and safety seriously

With this in mind, finding out if there is a presence of asbestos in your buildings is essential. Before proven otherwise, always assume that there is.

Firstly, hiring a company that specialises in asbestos is advised to conduct an asbestos survey. They will be able to determine the locations, conditions and extent of asbestos within the property. After recording where the presumed asbestos is located, putting together a plan or drawing to illustrate where exactly this is should be done.

By hiring an asbestos company to do this for you, they will know the next steps to take in terms of the removal of the asbestos and whether it is in a damaged or disturbed condition. After this analysis has been concluded, it is essential you take on board their advice and follow their instructions on what to do next.

Are you a landlord? Here’s the asbestos need-to-knows

To help prevent your tenants being exposed to asbestos, Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 outlines that landlords have certain responsibilities towards this. Depending on the extent of the maintenance and repair of non-domestic premises the tenant agreed to, this will decide the degree of legal duty landlords have.

For those that rent out properties, the same concept applies. For all the ‘common’ areas the building includes, you have the responsibility to ensure no potentially harmful asbestos containing materials are found. These common areas include:



Roof spaces

Boiler and plant rooms



It is always important that you are aware and up-to-date with all the information regarding the responsibilities you have as a landlord to protect your tenants from exposure to asbestos.

The consequences of not caring

As previously mentioned, depending on the extent of the legal duty both the tenant and the landlord have agreed upon in their contract, it can be up for debate who is responsible for dealing with asbestos issues. If the agreement excuses the landlord from any statutory compliance, this would mean that the tenant is obliged to comply with all common law and codes of practices that are presented — meaning the landlord would not be held accountable for any issues with the property.

To add, it will also give the landlord the right to take direct action against the tenant for breaching their lease conditions.

Although, if this type of contract isn’t present, the responsibility usually is in the hands of the landlord. But again, this could differ if the tenant holds the greatest accountability over the premises.

As the Landlord and Tenant act of 1985 states, the property must be fit for human habitation before it can be leased. Part of this act states that any asbestos material that is in unsafe conditions must be dealt with before the property can be leased. If this is not the case, legal actions may be taken with the landlord.

Call for government to review stamp duty holiday – January 7, 2021

The government should review its stamp duty holiday after implementing a national lockdown, industry stakeholders have claimed. Lee Birkett, founder of JustUs, called for the extension on the stamp duty cut on purchases of homes up to £500,000 in England and Wales, which was introduced in July. He said the stamp duty holiday was a “welcome boost”, adding that the industry also needs “a robust housing policy to replace Help to Buy and help mortgage prisoners”. Separately, Andrew Montlake, managing director of mortgage broker Coreco, said he “would not be surprised” if the lockdown leads to an extension of the stamp duty deadline, with a Treasury announcement possible by the end of the week. CrowdProperty chief executive Mike Bristow said any stamp duty extension should come alongside other measures, including incentives to increase the nation&rsquo ;s property inventory.
Source: P2P Finance News

Government to publish New Code of Practice for Commercial Letting – December 6, 2020

On 29 May 2020 the Government announced an intention to issue a new Code of Practice to provide high street businesses and landlords with clarity and reassurance over rent payments. The purpose of the new Code of Practice, which will be developed between Government and Trade Associations, is to support high street businesses through the Coronavirus pandemic. The Code will help to guide and encourage parties to work together to protect viable businesses and ensure swift recovery.

A working group has been established by the Government to develop the Code with a view to encouraging fair and transparent discussions between landlords and tenants over rental payments during the pandemic. The guidance will also cover rent arrear payments and treatment of those who are subletting and suppliers. It is hoped that it will enable collaboration and cooperation within the sector to ensure that no one part of the supply chain shoulders the full burden of payment.

The group has indicated that they will seek to involve wider business input through its sector members to ensure a greater number are consulted and able to share their views prior to the Code being published.

Community Secretary, Right Honourable Robert Jenrick MP, said that he expects all parties to come to the table so that our high streets and town centres are in the best possible position to come back from these challenges. He hoped that the new Code would give “clarity to landlords and tenants who are both facing equal pressures on their finances so they are all able to stabilise their finances and bounce back”.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, stated that “we continue to work with lenders to ensure flexible support is provided to commercial landlords, including payment holidays and restructuring facilities, and it is right that where landlords receive support, they extent this to their tenants”. This statement appears to be contrary to the experience a number of commercial landlords are facing when dealing with their lenders, where they are coming under increasing pressure to meet their obligations, which they then have no option but to pass on to their tenants.

The Code will be temporary in nature and the Government is considering options to make it mandatory, if necessary. It is expected to be published prior to the next quarterly rent payment date.

It is expected that ahead of the June payment day, all main commercial lenders should be in contact with their major commercial landlord borrowers to identify concerns that they have and provide support where appropriate. How productive those discussions will be remains to be seen.

The Government has already sought to introduce a package of measures for the commercial sector which includes the following:

Measures under the Coronavirus Act 2020 to prevent any business being forced out of their premises if they miss a payment until 30 June 2020.
Under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill, which is yet to be passed, there are proposals to temporarily ban the use of statutory demands between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 and winding up provisions presented for Monday 27 April to 30 June 2020. These provisions are not yet in force and considerable discussions around the Bill is still taking place.
Proposals have been made to introduce legislation preventing landlords from using commercial rent arrears recovery unless they are owed 90 days of unpaid rent. These provisions have been discussed by Government but have yet to be implemented.
The Government has been quick to emphasise that the measures do not amount to a rental holiday but are intended to allow breathing space for tenants facing significantly reduced income due to the closure measures and current economic circumstances. It has been emphasised that rent is still owed and that those tenants who are able to pay some or all of the rent are expected to do so.

Vector Capital Plc is a public limited company specialising in providing principal finance to the private and corporate sector.


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