As usual, it has been a busy month in the property world. Here are some of the latest property news headlines that may be of interest for homeowners, tenants, leaseholders and, property investors ….
Government releases new ‘easy to read’ How to Rent guide
An easier to read version of the government publication How to Rent has now been published, revealed the National Residential Landlords’ Association (NRLA) on the 23rd of July.
Landlords are already required to provide tenants with a copy of the guide – ensuring that it is the current version released in December 2020. The new, easy to read edition is intended as a supplement, which landlords are free to issue as and when they consider necessary.
It is now five years since landlords were first required to furnish their tenants a copy of the official How to Rent guide
“Millions” of leaseholders “trapped in unsellable and mortgageable homes”
Leaseholders of millions of flats in low- and medium-rise blocks are effectively trapped in homes that cannot be sold because lenders are unwilling to advance mortgages, according to a story by the BBC on the 1st of August.
Following the Grenfell fire disaster in 2017, high-rise blocks of flats have been required to pass an inspection and gain a so-called EWS1 fire safety certificate designed to give mortgage lenders confidence in advancing mortgage loans on such homes. However, the government has recently ruled that blocks of less than 18 metres in height would not require that certificate and can be presumed safe.
Despite research conducted by independent experts who concluded that there is “no systematic fire risk” in blocks less than 18 metres in height, mortgage lenders are still adopting a zero-risk approach on such property – with the result that flats in those blocks are effective unsellable.
The BBC’s report estimates that as many as 3.2 million flat owners have been left in this predicament.
UK Property Market Outlook: 9 August 2021
In its property market outlook published on the 9th of August, Property Wire focussed on the present imbalance between supply and demand, predicting that the disparity is likely to reach its peak this summer.
Demand has been fuelled by a release from successive rounds of lockdowns and the realisation on the part of many buyers that they want more spacious homes. That pent-up demand has been further encouraged by the Stamp Duty holiday that has been in place from July 2020 and tapering off next month. The result has seen the highest level of demand in seven years, according to the report.
The supply of available homes to buy, on the other hand, has been notably lacking. That, in turn, has prompted an annual rate of growth in average house prices of 13.4% as at the end of June (although that figure has fallen to 10.5% in July).
Although current trends are likely to reach a peak anytime soon, the autumn is expected to see a return to some semblance of normality, says Property Wire, as the IMF’s economic forecast for the UK economy is translated into reality, the end of the Stamp Duty holiday takes its effect, and supply of low-interest rate mortgages gains further ground.
Ban on new gas boilers is put back by five years to 2040
Alarmed by the high cost of converting to alternative forms of cleaner energy, the Prime Minister announced a five-year delay to the planned ban on the sale of new gas-fired central heating boilers, revealed a story in the Mail Online on the 27th of July.
In a move designed to encourage households to switch to alternatives such as heat-pumps and hydrogen-fuelled boilers, the original plan had been to impose a ban on the sale of new gas-fired boilers with effect from 2035. That deadline has now been pushed back to 2040.
Even so, if the government is to meet its “green revolution” targets of “net-zero” emissions, this means that many working gas boilers will have to have been replaced by the year 2050.
With heat-pumps and hydrogen boilers currently priced at some £11,000 to £14,000 apiece, the total cost of converting to greener heating in the home is estimated to be around £400 billion.
Demand for houses doubles as buyers search for more space
In a report on the 4th of August, online listings website Zoopla underscored the current frenetic activity in the housing market by revealing that demand has doubled from the levels experienced pre-pandemic.
Released from what had been a long series of successive lockdowns, house hunters began looking for homes that offered greater space – with room for a home office inside or a larger garden outside. That demand was further fuelled by the Stamp Duty holiday.
Demand reached levels 114% above those recorded at this time of the year during the period 2017 to 2019.
Coupled with a notable shortage in the supply of homes to meet that increased demand, average house prices leapt by 7.3% in the past year – although the average price of a flat lagged behind somewhat with an increase of just 1.4%.