As we come into the new year, the housing market is forecast to continue its positive state, according to Rightmove.
House prices are set to grow an average of four per cent, despite the stamp duty holiday ending soon.
The market has seen a great increase in demand since the first lockdown, with larger houses proving to be the most popular property type, which is largely attributed to a change in routine and the rapid adoption of remote working across the country.
In July, Chancellor Rishi Sunak introduced a stamp duty holiday allowing houses purchased for under £500,000 to benefit from a tax break.
Although this scheme is due to end on March 31st, many people within the sector are calling for an extension, so that buyers and investors may continue to benefit from additional support and to speed up economic recovery.
Mortgage lender Halifax recently reported that over the last five months, the house price increase has reached its highest record since 2004.
Seasonal trends suggest that January is a popular time for buyers and sellers. This year, that demand is off the charts, with homeowners rushing to reach completion and see stamp duty savings.
Rightmove expect the market to remain resilient despite the pandemic and Brexit.
They claim that the uncertainties of COVID-19 and Brexit have been around for long enough to not deter Brits from buying and selling.
If you’re looking to buy or sell, get in touch with our office advisors for more information on what to expect in 2021.
Buying your first home is an extremely poignant event in anyone’s life and being able to put down a significant deposit is vital to stand you in good stead for your future repayments.
However, in light of the pandemic, we appreciate that it can seem more daunting than ever to imagine yourself taking that step towards homeownership.
As your trusted local estate agent, with lots of first-time buyer experience, we have compiled these tips to support your saving goals this January.
During your property purchasing journey, it is crucial to identify any additional funds that you may need along the moving process.
Likewise, being aware of your monthly income and outgoings is extremely important in order to create a timescale for your saving journey.
If your parents or family are not in a position to be able to support you financially with your property purchase, there are other ways they can help.
The vast majority of first-time buyers find it difficult to save for a deposit due to their monthly rental outgoings, so moving in with a friend or family member is a great option to reducing these costs.
Due to COVID, it is important that you check the most recent guidance before changing your living situation.
If your current rent price per calendar month is slowing your deposit saving down, and you can’t move in with a family member or friend, then downsizing may help.
Looking for a property that is smaller could save you hundreds or even thousands over the span of your saving period.
Alternatively, moving out of a central location has the potential to save you a significant sum, and with remote working the new norm, you might find this option can be implemented without disrupting your lifestyle.
Especially at this time of year, many of us will take out various subscriptions without continuing to need them beyond the first month.
As such, it is important to go over your direct debits and ensure that you are still using all of the services you are paying for.
This also goes for streaming services and club memberships that you may no longer use.
Whether you have your deposit ready to go, or you’re looking to downsize to save some extra money, we’re here to help you every step of the way.
As a landlord, there are a number of legal requirements to be complied with prior to letting out a property.
One of these is to provide a copy of the Government-issued 'How to Rent' checklist to all tenants when entering into and renewing an assured shorthold tenancy, which is the most common type of contractual letting agreement.
The Government has recently released an updated How to Rent guide, click here to view
The guide is designed to help tenants understand their rights and responsibilities under an assured shorthold tenancy both before the tenancy starts and during the term of the agreement.
There are some noticeable differences with the latest version, which now provides answers to tenants' frequently asked questions, including the level of deposit and its protection, necessary documentation and length of term.
Another important addition is the reference to a landlord's obligations regarding mandatory electrical testing, and a review of the permitted fees under the Tenant Fees Act, which was introduced in 2019.
The Government's latest guide also sets out the information that must be provided by a landlord to tenants, as well as a summary of what each party must and should do during the tenancy.
Importantly, it gives advice to tenants on what to do if things go wrong, whilst clearly setting out what should happen at the end of the tenancy.
Landlords need to bear in mind that giving tenants the How to Rent guide is a legal requirement.
Without doing this, it hinders your ability to later serve a valid Section 21 notice and regain possession of your property, if required to do so.
This is due to the fact that the How to Rent guide is one of the statutory pre-conditions for serving a Section 21 notice.
We will always ensure on behalf of our landlord clients that their tenants are provided with a copy of this guide and that all other landlord requirements on the grant of an assured shorthold tenancy are complied with.
If you want any further information about the How to Rent guide or landlord and tenant requirements on the grant of an assured shorthold tenancy, please call our lettings team who will be happy to help.
As from July 2020, it became a requirement for any property rented in the private sector to have an Electrical Safety Inspection Certificate. The regulations came into force for new lets AND renewals on the 01st July 2020 and for all existing tenancies on the 01st April 2021.
A copy of the legal provisions can be found here
April 2021 Changes
By 1st April 2021, you will need to have an EICR performed on all properties with existing tenancies. The new rules will apply to all existing lets.
Even if your tenancy is already underway and you have no plans to renew, after 1st April 2021, you will need to have an EICR or you could face fines.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 set out a number of different requirements around providing copies of the EICR to relevant people:
The EICR must be given to all of the tenants before they occupy the property.
When you replace the EICR you must provide them with a copy of the new report within 28 days of the inspection.
If a tenant requests a copy of the EICR in writing, you must also provide them with one within 28 days.
Where the local authority requests the EICR you must provide them with a copy of it within seven days or face potential penalties.
Any prospective tenants who request a copy in writing must be provided one within 28 days.
The standard EICR lasts 5 years but this can be shorter so you should replace it as often as needed to ensure it remains valid.
My EICR has indicated a potential breach of the electrical safety standards. What do I do next?
If a breach, or a potential breach, of your duty has been identified you need to have a qualified person either perform the work or investigate further within 28 days. This time limit can be shortened if the report recommends it so you should ensure you are complying with the time frame in the report itself.
Once this has been done you need to ensure you are receiving a written report from the qualified person as quickly as possible. This report needs to state that the electrical safety standards are now being met or that further remedial work is required.
Within 28 days of the work or investigation being carried out you must provide the written confirmation as well as a copy of the report to all of the tenants and the local authority.
Where the follow up investigation recommends further work being done, you must repeat the steps above until the property meets the electrical safety standards.
A qualified person is someone who is competent to perform the inspections or the works.
The simplest way of identifying a competent person would be to refer to someone with the qualifications laid out in the recent update to the Electrotechnical Assessment Specifications. This includes people with industry-recognised apprenticeships or Level 3 Certificates in Level 3 Certificate in Installing, Testing and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations in Dwellings.
If you are qualified to check installations to the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations and provide a report on it then yes you should be able to self-certify. However, if there are any issues with the property upon inspection by a local authority you would likely be in a worse position than someone who had a qualified person perform the inspection for them.
The local authority is responsible for enforcement and they have a number of powers to act on this.
Firstly, they can issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 per breach of these regulations.
Secondly, where they have identified non-urgent work they must serve the landlord a notice detailing the work required and giving them 28 days to perform the work. The landlord may make representations to this within 21 days of the notice being served. If they do then the local authority must respond to these representations within 7 days. Until they respond the requirement to perform the work is suspended.
Finally, if the local authority is satisfied the landlord is in breach and they have the tenant’s permission to do so, they may perform emergency remedial work on the property and bill the landlord for any costs incurred.