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The best city in which to invest in property, Stamp Duty holiday, rents in London, and student landlords

The property market is reopening after having lain dormant for nearly three months.

Little wonder, then, that news is again picking up on various topics of interest to property owners. Here are some of the latest snippets.

Leicester is the best city in the UK to invest in property

As the first green shoots of renewed interest in property investment begin to show, you might have wondered where the best place is not just to invest in property but also to set up your business.

An article in Property Wire on the 28th of May claims to have the answer – and that place is the city of Leicester.

In recent years, the survival rate for new businesses in and around Leicester has been an encouraging 91% – leading the second and third-placed cities, Bristol and Coventry, at 90.6% and 88.7% respectively.

House prices in Leicester have also risen by 28.3% in the past two years – an average increase of over £69,000, from £176,382 to the current £246,000.

Calls for a Stamp Duty holiday

Although the pent-up demand from the recent lockdown looks set to restart the housing market, it might have a much-needed kickstart by giving some buyers at least a tax break in the shape of a Stamp Duty holiday.

A story in Estate Agent Today recently explained online listings website Zoopla’s reasoning.

If Stamp Duty were temporarily put on hold, buyers would be expected to increase their activity, and the bounce back in property transactions might help to fill the 43% deficit in Treasury receipts from Stamp Duty during the month of April alone.

Because it would be a temporary holiday only, buyers may be expected to act sooner rather than later, when the tax could be re-applied as normal when the market stabilised.

The article recognises that any tax holiday would benefit some buyers more than others, depending on how much they were paying for their new home. Stamp Duty is currently zero-rated on the first £125,000 of the purchase price, 2% up to £250,000, 5% on the balance up to £925,000, and 10% on any balance up to £1.5 million. First-time buyers are exempt from Stamp Duty on homes costing up to £300,000 and pay 5% on the amount between £300,000 and £500,000.

The London postcodes that have seen the biggest drop in rental prices

One of the key sectors of the housing market most immediately affected by the recent lockdown was the private rented sector, explained a recent article in Homes & Property magazine.

One of the worst affected parts of the country is London and, as a result, rents in the capital have fallen by as much as 15% since the beginning of March.

The worst-hit boroughs are in Zone 3, where rents are 7.9% down on the same time last year – to an average of £1,870 a month. Nearer the centre, in Zone 2, rents have fallen by 6.9% to an average of £2,520 a month. While in Zone 1, the fall has been some 5% to an average of £2,910.

Student landlords threaten legal action over non-payment of rent

Some landlords appear to be breaking advice and guidance issued by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) by not granting refunds of rent when accommodation was cancelled by students returning home during the coronavirus lockdown.

In a story dated the 26th of May, Landlord Today drew attention to those landlords currently threatening legal action against their student tenants to recover rent that remained unpaid when they packed up and returned home, on the advice of their universities and colleges.

With their rented accommodation unoccupied, many students simply stopped paying their rent and have decided not to resume payments during the summer holidays, while uncertainty surrounds any return to their studies in September.

Universities have urged landlords to follow CMA guidance in offering refunds where tenancies have been cancelled, but some landlords and their agents persist in taking legal action.

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