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Rent levels, regulating housebuilding, what to look out for when buying an older property and “bribes” to secure a house purchase

What are the current hot topics of UK property news? Let’s delve behind some of the headlines to find out.

New attack on Airbnb landlords in Scotland – possible bin collection charges

The government in Scotland already regulates Airbnb properties more stringently than elsewhere – these short-term lets must be appropriately licensed and their landlords may have to pay a higher rate of Council Tax and business rates. A story in Landlord Today recently suggests that those controls may be tightened still further.

In a measure that some may see as purposely punitive, Edinburgh council has floated the idea of charging Airbnb landlords for their rubbish bin collections. It is argued that tenants of such short-term lets tend to generate higher volumes of household refuse.

Average rent in the UK: February 2024

The online property listings website Zoopla published its annual round-up of the UK rental market on the 12th of February.

The principal takeaways from the site’s overview included the following:

  • average rents in the UK have risen by 8.3% in the past 12 months – an annual increase of £1,100 or an additional £90 a month compared with a year ago;
  • putting that 8.3% growth into perspective, however, it still represents a slowing of the inflationary trend of rent increases – last year saw a drop from an 11.4% increase to the current 8.3%;
  • across the UK as a whole, the average rent currently stands at £1,220 per month – with a range from £2,119 in London to £695 in the northeast of England;
  • despite the rent controls that are in force there, Scotland registers the highest rate of increase in rents;
  • London – where rents are already so high, they have effectively reached a rental ceiling – records the slowest rate of growth in the past 12 months;
  • as the cost of living crisis continues to challenge the affordability of rents, Zoopla forecasts a continuation of the downward trend in the levels of rent increases.

Fundamental interventions needed to correct housebuilding

Citing a recent report by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Propertymark on the 26th of February pointed to some of the issues currently hampering the competitiveness of the housebuilding industry.

The CMA looked to address shortcomings it has identified in the quality of housing that is being built, the efficiency of land management, the role of local authorities as they oversee the production of housing in their respective areas, and the ability of the housebuilding industry to innovate.

The report highlights an industry in which speculative private development predominates within an environment shaped by unpredictable and complicated planning regulations. Together, these create long-term obstacles to housebuilding output in the UK.

Checklist of what to look out for when viewing an older property to buy

If you are thinking of buying an older property, the Daily Mail on the 26th of February suggested some of the things you might want to consider:

  • older properties will require more repairs and maintenance – their upkeep will be more expensive;
  • despite their appealing appearance, many older properties come with unwanted issues that can prove expensive to remedy – thorough inspection and investigation are essential before you buy;
  • although you might be breathing new life into old homes, their repair and upkeep are likely to require specialist tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers, and roofers;
  • look out for potential structural issues, infestations by pests or rodents, troublesome roofs, mildew and mould, and the likely difficulties in extending storage space in quirkily designed period homes.

A quarter of buyers “bribed” sellers to secure a purchase reveals survey

A story in Estate Agent Today on the 28th of February illustrated how the current housing market strengthens any seller’s hand.

It revealed that as many as one in four buyers have been prepared to “bribe” the vendor by offering all manner of inducements – from cash to payments in kind.

In a survey of more than 1,000 transactions, 89% of purchasers confessed that the sweeteners they offered the vendor led to success. The most common bribes related to a quick purchase being available (28%) because of the absence of any chain or the fact that they were a cash buyer (24%) prepared to offer proof of the funds available.

Cash backhanders, a free meal and baked goods were also offered.

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