The North-South divide, a spike in home insurance claims, and other property news …

Posted: 12th Aug 2019

A landlord’s work is never done. There is always some new development, it seems, that you might need to take into account for the smooth running of your business.

So, if the season of sunnier skies, warm weather and your hard-earned summer holidays might have taken your eye off the ball, here are a few snippets of news you might want to consider.

North-South divide: property prices are narrowing

Is it possible that the historic North-South prosperity divide in the UK is going into reverse?

New research – published in Landlord Today on the 30th of July – shows that while property prices in cities such as Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Cardiff are surging ahead, those in the traditionally more wealthy South, such as London, Cambridge, and Southampton, are lagging behind.

Although there remains a gap in the value of property in the South compared to the North – and that gap has continued to widen in at least the past couple of years – it might soon be going into reverse. As at June of this year, property prices in the South grew by an annual average of just 0.7% whereas those in the North enjoyed an average growth of 3.6%, as demand pressed against the available supply of housing.

Across the country as a whole, property prices grew by only 1.7% in the past year, with those in the North consistently outpacing those in the South – property prices in Edinburgh, for example, recorded a high of 5.1%, while the majority of those cities showing an increase of less than 1% are all in southern England.

Home insurance claims spike in August

Summer holidays can play havoc with your home insurance.

When children are around indoors for rather longer than the rest of the year and when some of those days are edging towards boredom or frustration, more than the usual number of accidents happen and an increased number of insurance claims are the result, reports Yahoo Finance in the UK.

Home insurance claims jump by as much as a third in the months between June and August – when children who previously spent most of the day at school are then on their holidays.

Illustrating the damage that might be caused during the summer holidays, the study gives the example of television sets broken because toys were thrown at them, sofas and carpets indelibly stained by the “slime” some children love to play with, leather sofas accidentally cut to shreds through careless craftwork, and smartphones dropped down the toilet.

£100,000 fine for Airbnb sub-let

A tenant of Westminster City Council in central London has been fined £100,000 for sub-letting his flat to Airbnb guests, reported the Independent newspaper on the 30th of July 2019.

Following on from this news, another local authority is to investigate whether its tenants are abusing the opportunities presented by Airbnb and other short-let internet platforms to make illegal income from subletting their accommodation – offences which may be likely to invalidate any Airbnb insurance, landlord or home insurance which might have been arranged.

Letting Agent Today on the 30th of July reported that Belfast City Council has launched the investigation following a 40% increase in lettings in Northern Ireland inspired by these online platforms and in response to concerns about the impact on the housing stock in the Province.

Landlord fined £14,500 for unlicensed HMO

Wychavon District Council in Worcestershire has handed down fines totalling £14,500 to the landlord of an HMO who was illegally letting the premises without the necessary licence, reported Landlord Today on the 29th of July.

Not only was the HMO unlicensed, but the landlord had also allowed it to become overcrowded – as the home to eleven individuals – the fire alarms barely worked, there were no fire doors, the kitchen had no oven and the general layout of the property was poor.