A leasehold reform campaigner claims estate agents face “growing calls to be held accountable for mis-selling leasehold properties.”
Louie Burns, managing director of the Leasehold Solutions Group, says: “Estate agents are facing mounting pressure to ensure they are listing leasehold properties correctly by providing prospective buyers with the information they need to make an informed decision. There is a high chance that failure to disclose these details could lead to accusations of mis-selling in the future.
“It is right that estate agents and online property portals should be transparent and provide home buyers with key details about the lease, including the number of years remaining, and the cost of any service charges and ground rent. However, we recognise that leasehold is a very complex area and estate agents are facing a steep learning curve to get up to speed with the ever-changing face of the leasehold system.”
Last year National Trading Standards published guidance for consumers seeking redress for leasehold matters, which states that estate agents must provide information consumers need to make an informed decision about a property and ensure that they treat the buyer and the seller honestly, fairly and promptly.
Burns continues: “Estate Agents should protect themselves and their firm’s reputation by adopting a policy of full disclosure. Any estate agent that does not disclose information relevant to the sale may find themselves in breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008).”
Burns makes his claims in a statement promoting a half day course he is to hold, alongside Mark Chick, an enfranchisement lawyer and partner of central London law firm, Bishop & Sewell LLP.
The event takes place in London on February 4.
“Our training is intended to ensure estate agents fully understand the imminent changes in legislation to enable them to market and advise on leasehold properties most effectively and avoid any accusations of mis-selling” says Burns.
The number of residential transactions rose by 6.2 per cent in December – an unseasonal increase – according to data from HM Revenue & Customs.
There were 104,670 residential property transactions last month, when traditionally deals drop because of Christmas.
The industry is happy with the unexpected boom.
“These figures are encouraging because they show an increase in transactions in December, up on November and the previous year. While HMRC advises caution and not to get too carried away, it’s certainly a positive, particularly as the impact of the general election is yet to be felt on transaction numbers” according to Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman.
Meanwhile Neil Knight, business development director at Spicerhaart Part-Exchange and Assisted Move, says: “It’s normal that people don’t look to move house around Christmas so we’d have expected to see a bit of a fall-off in December’s figures, but that hasn’t happened. Taken together with the figures for the two months before Christmas, this is a huge shot in the arm and paints a picture of a real recovery starting to take hold.”
Ben Johnston, director of website House, adds: “Transactional volume is what the UK housing market desperately needs, rather than rising property prices, so these figures are encouraging … December’s transaction numbers are perhaps not as telling as those of Q1 2020. These will be the true indicator of whether we are experiencing a ‘Boris bounce’.”
Soaring demand in London is pushing up activity levels with the housing market seeing interest from would-be buyers, including property investors, rocketing, according to the latest report from Knight Frank.
The number of new prospective buyers registering with the company in London rose to its highest weekly total in more than 15 years in the second week of January as they look to capitalise on the certainty brought by December’s general election result.
Knight Frank does not reveal exact numbers but the figure was 92% higher than the same week last year and 95% up on the same period in 2018.
Christopher Burton, head of Knight Frank’s Dulwich office, commented: “The second half of last year was active as buyers ventured back into the market but interest has exploded at the start of this year.”
There are early indications that the relative political certainty provided by last month’s general election result is starting to boost activity in prime London markets, with the number of exchanges for existing properties increasing significantly.
Tom Bill, head of London residential research, said: “The reasons for this uptick include the relatively benign global economic backdrop, ultra-low mortgage rates, the currency discount and the fact prime residential markets have re-priced in response to political uncertainty and tax changes.
“The extent of the pent-up demand that has built over 2019 could also inject more urgency into the market.
“In the final quarter of last year, there were ten new buyers for every new property listed in prime central and outer London, the highest ratio in more than fifteen years.”
The housing market has enjoyed what some are calling a “Boris bounce” following the result of last month’s general election, with confidence in the market hitting a three-year high, according to a new survey.
Zoopla, in partnership with MonkeySeed, surveyed 6,000 people, and over 650 agents from the sales and lettings landscape across the UK, and found that the housing market is seeing some benefit from the greater clarity provided by the decisive election outcome.
Estate agent confidence levels are up, with more than half – 55% – of those surveyed reporting that they feel either ‘very confident’ or ‘somewhat confident’ in the strength of the market during the next year. This follows a three-year consecutive decline in agent confidence.
From a regional perspective, agents in the north are registering the highest levels of confidence in market performance for 2020 at 57%; meanwhile, agents in the south come in at 53% and demonstrate the highest turnaround in sentiment, up from 46% recorded 12 months prior.
Some 52% of agents expect to see an increase in the supply of stock coming onto the market over the next 12-18 months to start meeting buyer and renter demand.
Additionally, 45% of agents believe that there will be an increase in the number of property transactions that take place across the year ahead, in a further sign of renewed market health.
The economic and political landscape, as well as current stock levels, were cited as immediate market challenges; however, the subsequent election outcome is already starting to reshape market dynamics.
Andy Marshall, chief commercial officer at Zoopla, said: “It comes as little surprise that the so-called ‘Boris Bounce’ has already started to reshape the market in the immediate term – particularly amidst reports of improving consumer confidence following the decisive election outcome.
“Without doubt, appetite to buy and sell property has been pent up since the aftermath of the Brexit vote in 2016, and it would now appear that we have the green shoots of a new cycle in the market.
“While we don’t expect runaway prices – indeed we have forecast a modest 3% growth for 2020 – we are definitely heading in the right direction and agents are rightly benefitting from what we hope will become a new dawn.”
Fresh figures from Howsy has revealed the most in-demand cities to rent property in the United Kingdom, with some surprising findings.
The rental management platform analysed demand across 23 major UK cities as well as each borough of London, based on the proportion of rental listings that had already been snapped up by renters as a percentage of all listings available online.
The study found when it comes to existing demand, Newport is home to the highest level of tenant demand with 35% of all rental homes listed on the major portals already let.
Other highly ranked in-demand cities for rental properties include Bristol at 34%, Nottingham (33%), Cambridge (33%) and Belfast (25%).
Elsewhere, Plymouth (23%), Portsmouth (23%), Bournemouth (23%), Leicester (18%) and Manchester (18%) complete the top 10.
Aberdeen remains the least sought after area for rental properties in the UK with tenant demand at 5% followed by Swansea (8%) and Leeds (9%).
In London, Bexley, Bromley, Sutton and Lewisham are the hottest boroughs for tenants straight off the bat in 2020, with 38% of all rental stock listed online already being snapped up.
Merton (32%), Croydon (31%), Greenwich (30%), Haringey (29%), Enfield (29%) and Kingston (27%) are also amongst the most popular.
The high financial barrier of rental costs is evident at the top end of the ladder with Kensington and Chelsea (7%), Westminster (7%), Camden (11%), the City of London (12%) and Hammersmith and Fulham (13%) all ranking with the lowest number of properties let as a percentage of total properties listed.
Calum Brannan, founder and CEO of Howsy, said: “The buy-to-let sector may have had a rough ride of late but the UK rental market is still heavily relied upon by many in order to put a roof over their head and as a result, many cities still provide a great opportunity for buy-to-let investors due to the lower levels of available stock and consistently high tenant demand.
“When looking to invest, this combination of high demand, an affordable initial cost and a good rental yield should all be considered in order to maximise a return. For those that do their research and tick these boxes, bricks and mortar remains a very sound investment despite attempts to dampen the financial return via stamp duty hikes and changes to tax relief.
“Hopefully, a newly refreshed Government will realise that the buy-to-let landlord is the backbone of the UK rental market and we need to encourage investment into the sector rather than deter it.”
An assembly member has welcomed the introduction of legislation for carbon monoxide detectors in rented homes in Wales.
The Welsh Government says new regulations are to be introduced to tackle the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Around 60 people a year are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in Wales and thousands are hospitalised.
The regulations will require landlords in Wales and their agents to install working carbon monoxide alarms, smoke alarms and undertake an electrical safety test at least every five years.
The time frame is not clear at this stage, but it would appear that it will be implemented as part of the introduction of Section 91 of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 and prior to the end of this Assembly term in 2021.
Clwyd West AM Darren Millar previously expressed concerns to the Senedd over the absence of legal requirements for the detectors to be installed in rental properties.
But he has welcomed confirmation that a new section of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will include additional requirements for landlords to install working carbon monoxide alarms, smoke alarms and undertake an electrical safety test at least every five years.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to hear that new regulations will be coming into force to ensure landlords install carbon monoxide testers in their properties and the Minister is committed to ensuring they are implemented by the end of this Assembly term.”
Many people are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, particularly if they do not have a CO alarm in their property.
In the short-term, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause dizziness, sickness, tiredness and stomach pain, while prolonged exposure can lead to loss of consciousness and have a significant impact on an individual’s mental state, coordination and heart health.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is produced when fuel does not burn properly – usually from badly fitted or poorly maintained appliances.
Though carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas, it has no smell or taste, so it is not obvious when someone has been exposed to it. Just breathing it in can make somebody very unwell and it can kill if a person is exposed to high levels.
Millar added: Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas, but, being colourless, odourless, tasteless, and initially non-irritating, it is very difficult for people to detect.
“Unfortunately, many people across Wales still do not know enough about its dangers and it continues to claim lives or leave people with long-term chronic health problems.
“Currently 60 people a year are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning and thousands are hospitalised. Hopefully, these new regulations will help to reduce that figure.”
It now takes private landlords across the UK more than five months on average from making a claim to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening, with the problem most acute in London, new figures show.
The data reveals that the average length of time from a claim from a landlord in London to a court issuing an order for a property to be repossessed for legitimate reasons is currently 30 weeks, up from 23 weeks a year earlier.
Landlords in London have the longest wait in the country followed in second place by those in the North East who have to wait an average of 23.5 weeks.
The findings suggest that a major problem contributing to the backlog is the fact that the courts are unable to cope when landlords look to repossess properties for legitimate reasons.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is warning that without major reform and greater funding for the courts the time taken to process cases will only get worse as Ministers prepare to end Section 21 repossessions.
The RLA is calling on the government to establish a dedicated housing court with a view to improving and speeding up access to justice for landlords and tenants in the minority of cases where something goes wrong.
John Stewart, policy manager for the RLA, commented: “If landlords feel that they might have to wait forever to regain possession of their property where they have good reason, such as tenants committing anti-social behaviour or failing to pay their rent, increasing numbers are going to feel it is not worth the risk of letting the property out in the first place.
“This will just add to the already growing shortage of investment in rented housing which is badly needed to meet a rising demand.
“The RLA was delighted when the government consulted on its proposal for a housing court a year ago but nothing has happened since. It needs to get on and get it set up for the benefit of landlords and tenants alike.”
Rents look set to rise over the next 12 months as the supply of new rental properties dries up, according to the latest survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
It said small scale landlords are pulling out of the market due to recent tax and legislative changes which have made buy-to-let investments less profitable.
Landlord instructions remain in decline, with this indicator having been stuck in negative territory since 2016.
Going forward, rents are expected to increase as a consequence of the imbalance between rising demand and falling supply.
In the sales market, activity levels are benefiting from greater political certainty following the outcome of last month’s general election.
There has been a notable increase in residential property sales and this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
The December 2019 RICS Residential Market Survey shows that sales expectations have increased significantly, with a number of other key activity metrics turning positive for the first time in several months.
Sales expectations for the next 12 months have increased to a net balance of +66%, up from +35% in November, following a sharp rise in enquiries from potential buyers.
This change in activity levels is expected to lead to property price growth in the near and longer-term due to continued imbalance in supply.
In December, 17% more survey respondents saw a rise rather than fall in enquiries from new buyers, up from -5% in November, at the headline level across the UK.
Regionally, the majority of areas saw growth in interest from new buyers, with respondents in Wales and the North East in particular reporting solid growth.
Enquiries also rose in London and the South East, marking a noticeable turnaround from the negative results in November.
Aside from a rise in enquiries from buyers, the number of agreed sales edged up at the national level to +9% net balance. This is the first time since May 2019 that the number of agreed sales has shown a positive result.
Agreed sales in London and East Anglia delivered amongst the strongest improvement in sentiment, with net balances of +22% and +23% respectively, while sales reportedly weakened in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Sales expectations for the next three months are also positive, for the third month running, with +31% of respondents anticipating transactions will increase.
This sentiment is mirrored for sales prospects over the 12 twelve months, which have seen an even greater improvement.
A net balance of +66% of survey participants forecast that sales will rise in the year ahead, up from +35% previously. The strongest net balances were returned in Wales and the South West, although all regions are showing strong improvement.
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, commented: “The signals from the latest RICS survey provides further evidence that the housing market is seeing some benefit from the greater clarity provided by the decisive election outcome.
“Whether the improvement in sentiment can be sustained remains to be seen given that there is so much work to be done over the course of this year in determining the nature of the eventual Brexit deal.
“However, the sales expectations indicators clearly point to the prospect of more upbeat trend in transactions emerging with potential purchasers being more comfortable in following through on initial enquiries.”
While new instructions picked up at the national level, a net balance of +9% of contributors reported an increase, outside London and the South East, new sales instructions were more or less flat rather than picking up to any degree.
With regards to house prices, the survey’s headline net balance came in at -2%, compared to -11% previously, signalling a broadly flat national trend for the time being.
Going forward, however, near term price expectations were revised higher in all parts of the UK. This indicates a large shift across previously weakening areas, such as London and the South East.
Back at the national level, a net balance of +61% of survey participants see prices increasing at the twelve month horizon (a rise from +33% last time). What’s more, the outlook for house price inflation was adjusted higher right across the UK.
Rubinsohn added: “The ongoing lack of stock on the market remains a potential drag on a meaningful uplift in activity although the very modest increase in new instructions in December is an early hopeful sign.
“Given that affordability remains a key issue in many parts of the country, the shift in the mood-music on prices is a concern with even London expectations pointing to a reversal of course both over the coming months and looking further out.
“This highlights the critical importance of the government addressing the challenge around housing supply particularly with the gradual phasing out of the Help to Buy incentive.”
The government plans to introduce mandatory electrical installation inspecting for all rented homes.
Detailed regulations for enforcing compulsory five-year electrical safety checks in the private rented sector from July this year have been put forward and are now subject to parliamentary approval.
The draft regulations propose that, from 1 July 2020, all new private tenancies in England will need to ensure that electrical installations are inspected and tested by a qualified person prior to the start of a new tenancy.
The landlord will then be required to ensure that the installation is inspected and tested at least every five years, and more regularly if the most recent safety report requires it.
A breach of the regulations could see landlords fined up to £30,000.
David Cox, chief executive, ARLA Propertymark, commented: “We are supportive of this concept and believe it will create a level playing field for all agents and landlords as well as ensuring improved safety standards for tenants.
“Mandating electrical testing should have a limited impact on good professional landlords and agents in the market, many of whom already voluntarily undertake these inspections.
“We did raise concerns about the number of engineers available to undertake these reports by the April 2021 deadline but have received assurances from MHCLG about capacity in the supply chain.”
Fresh research from Proportunity reveals how different property types performed over the past decade, based on price growth.
The data, collected across England and Wales, shows that terraced houses have been the best performing housing type in the past 10 years, with terraced homes in London enjoying the highest house price growth during that time.
The company, which provides Help to Buy-style equity loans, analysed the changing price per square metre of all properties sold in England and Wales since 2010, and found that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for each property type by region, and also at an England and Wales-wide level.
Despite recent stagnation, Greater London was home to the highest performing property types in all but one category over the past decade. The capital’s flats, terraced and semi-detached houses all outperformed their counterparts in other regions, with growth of 4.93%, 5.07%, and 4.33% respectively.
But owners of detached houses in the East of England saw only a marginally higher growth: 3.07% compared to 3.06% in London.
Across all of England and Wales, the top performing property type was terraced houses, with an average growth of 3.05%. Semi-detached houses had growth of 2.9% on average, with flats seeing growth of 2.35%. The slowest growing property type was detached houses, with annual growth rates of 2.33% since 2010.
Flats in the North East performed the worst of any regional property type, with an average decrease in price of 0.5%. Flats in Yorkshire and The Humber, and the North West also lost value over the decade, with 0.12% and 0.04% decreases annually respectively.
Vadim Toader, founder and CEO of Proportunity, said: “The 2010s were marked by the after-effects of the financial crisis, and then by Brexit uncertainty.
“Despite these headwinds, we have largely seen growth across the board but the clear winner is terraced housing, or more specifically, terraced homes in London, with buyers likely attracted to their historic characteristics and charm, as well as their limited supply, compared to new builds. Yet, despite their popularity, they are out of reach for many first time buyers in the capital, with Help to Buy restricted to new-builds only, which are typically flats or semi-detached or detached houses.”
Compound Annual Growth
|Region Name||flat cagr 2010-2019||terr cagr 2010-2019||semi cagr 2010-2019||detached cagr 2010-2019|
|East of England||2.62%||3.47%||3.59%||3.07%|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||-0.12%||0.91%||1.30%||1.32%|
|England and Wales||2.35%||3.05%||2.90%||2.33%|
Price per square metre (£)
|Region Name||flat ppsqm 2010||flat ppsqm 2019||terr ppsqm 2010||terr ppsqm 2019||semi ppsqm 2010||semi ppsqm 2019||detached ppsqm 2010||detached ppsqm 2019|
|East of England||2563.4||3234.3||2423||3294||2474.8||3398.9||2703.6||3550.2|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||1791.2||1772.2||1496.3||1623.3||1691.7||1899.9||1966.6||2212.7|
|England and Wales||2417.1||2978.6||2225.2||2915.7||2347.2||3037||2600.9||3200.3|