Pilot launched to improve energy efficiency of rented accommodation

The government-endorsed quality scheme TrustMark has launched a new pilot to boost energy efficiency standards in rented accommodation. Together with East Sussex Trading Standards, the scheme started the Better Homes for Hastings initiative earlier this month.

The initiative was launched with an event at Sussex Coast College Hastings on March 15th in partnership with Hastings Borough Council. Attendees included landlords, tenants, housing associations and businesses, including TrustMark Registered Businesses.

The new pilot aims to promote minimum standards for properties to meet, covering issues such as safety, health and energy efficiency. The event offered education on tenant rights, as well as addressing fuel poverty through the promotion of energy efficiency. Information for landlords, lettings agents and housing associations was also provided, aiming to educate them on new energy efficiency regulation standards for rented properties. There were opportunities for them to be connected to businesses and tradespeople to give them the resources they need to meet these standards too.

When using a TrustMark Registered Businesses, property owners can be sure that they are using a service that they can trust. It’s important for landlords, housing managers and lettings agents to know that the businesses that they rely on are trustworthy and that they can carry out their work to the correct standards. TrustMark Registered Businesses have been vetted to ensure they meet these standards in areas such as trading practices, technical competency and customer service.

Chief executive of TrustMark, Simon Ayers, said that: “Together, we will work to drive standards upwards and enhance the safety, comfort, health and energy efficiency of Hastings rental properties.”

The Best Value Places to Live in London for Renters

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that London is hideously expensive for private tenants. Those who live in  London hear the same chorus from friends and family who live outside the capital “Oh, I could never live in London, it’s too expensive!”. But does this assumed truth bear scrutiny?

A report by online estate agent Emoov suggests that tenants in London can significantly reduce (or even halve) their rental costs every month by moving from a location of roughly average price to the least expensive postcode in their borough, identifying a series of “bargain postcodes” which offer renters in the capital something they’re hardly used to getting… Value for money!

Of course, these  ‘bargain’ postcodes are still not exactly cheap, nonetheless, they offer significant relative value for those with preferred neighbourhoods that they prefer to remain in or at least remain within reach of.

Below average

Many of the targeted  areas offer far cheaper monthly rental rates than the London average which is an eye-watering (to most outside the capital) £2,002 per month. The report’s findings will be make for interesting reading to London residents who are saving to get on the property ladder but aren’t prepared to change their lifestyles to achieve this.

Adam Male, lettings director of Urban.co.uk states;

“If you’re saving to get on the property ladder, living on a budget is the best way to ultimately be able to buy. Therefore, by adjusting your rental expectations slightly and compromising on a more affordable postcode in the same borough, you not only stay close to the area you like but also have a little extra to tuck away at the end of each month,”

So, let’s take a look at these bargain postcodes…

Maida Vale

What if you could save a small fortune without even having to leave London… Surely, you’;d think this was a pipe dream? After all, you’d be within striking distance of some of the most expensive real estate in the country including Belgravia and Mayfair!

However, tenants can expect significantly cheaper rent by moving to west London postcode of W9. Located in travel Zone 2, the Maida Vale postcode offers London’s best value for money when compared to the wider City of Westminster. Emoov’s report highlights an average monthly rent for the area of £3,303, almost 50% lower than the borough average of £6,433.

It’s a great spot to invest, too when the time comes to buy. The area holds its price really well, according to associate director of Chestertons Maida Vale Karen Davies; “Mayfair, Soho, Covent Garden are all in Westminster, with Maida Vale more of a residential area, so this probably accounts for the lower figure here.”

She further states that streets around Shirland Avenue are the most affordable in the area, while prices in prime Maida Vale and Little Venice are similar to nearby St John’s Wood.

The South West

The TW12 Hampton postcode in the South West’s Richmond-upon-Thames, was a close runner up, with the average monthly rental price of just £1,472  That’s an impressive 43% below the borough average of £2,566. The area has a lot to offer for so modest a price tag. Residents can enjoy a stroll along the Thames, go deer-spotting in Bushy Park or enjoy a train commute to Waterloo that takes just 45 minutes.

Kensington and Chelsea’s best kept secret

Such prestigious addresses may seem out of reach, but even Kensington and Chelsea have their affordable hidden gems.The North Kensington postcode of W10, just north of the Westway is the home of the Portobello Road market, as well as the Grade II-listed Trellick Tower… Believe it or not, it also contains some of Kensington and Chelsea’s cheapest housing.

Average rents here are just £2,723 a month, 40% less than in the rest of this enviable central borough.

Who says rents in London are too expensive?

Zoopla: Half of Tenants use Letting Agents to Find Accommodation

Ask any landlord and they’ll tell you… There’s really no such thing as “passive income”. The duties of a landlord are many and varied, and since most landlords manage their properties alongside a full-time job, it can make for an extremely busy and stressful life.

Is it any wonder that so many landlords choose to make their lives easier by leaning on letting agents to help to manage and occupy their properties? A 2018 report by property portal Zoopla State Of The Property Nation, suggests that tenants lean heavily on letting agents too. The report reveals a significant increase in the amount of private tenants who use letting agents to find new accommodation.

12% increase

Zoopla’s inquiries revealed that nearly half of private tenants (48%) used the services of a letting agent to source their rental property this year. This figure represents a 12% increase from the findings of the same report in 2017 which revealed  recorded 36%.

Out of the 6,000 people surveyed, 62% admitted that they expected to rent for at least the next three years, before considering owning a property. 23% of respondents stated that they expected to rent a home indefinitely. In an uncertain and historically under-regulated housing market and the impending impact of Brexit it’s not hard to see why.

Meanwhile, the number of homeowners letting out their properties to tenants rose from just 2.4% in 2016 to 4.2% this year. The future clearly seems to belong to landlords… but it’s not all smiles and sunshine!

The lot of landlords

The research demonstrates that landlords will still facing a number of challenges in the existing housing climate.

56% of landlords surveyed by the study stated that their biggest challenge was still finding suitable tenants to occupy their property. The second biggest obstacle was ensuring that their tenants give their properties the due care, attention and basic maintenance that they need (55%). Furthermore, 47% shared a concern over tenants paying their rent on time.

39% of landlords found it difficult to keep up with recent increases in regulation, whilea further 36% were concerned about how future legislation will affect them.

Letting agents also had their share of concerns with 38% expecting a drop in lettings revenue in 2019, as agents face the prospect of the tenant fees ban’s introduction in 2019.

An encouraging note

Managing Director of Zoopla’s Property Division, Charlie Bryant stated that while the report implied some areas of concern for landlords and letting agents alike, there was still much to be hopeful about in 2019 and beyond:

“It’s certainly a challenging time for lettings agents, with the ban on lettings fees looming. However, our research shows that demand for agents’ services and rented accommodation are strong, and that should come as a welcome boost.

“As the market becomes more regulated and complex, the letting agents that adopt a more consultative approach with both their landlord and their tenant clients, to help navigate them through, will gain an advantage.”

He went on to emphasise the importance of staying ahead of the trends of a changing market and observing new rules, ending on an encouraging note by saying that “those who do it best are set to thrive.”

Landlords to Face Fines for Unsafe and Overcrowded Accommodation

Many tenants (and indeed prospective landlords) assume that the life of a landlord is easy. However, the truth is that the term “passive income” is remarkably misleading. Landlords have a bevy of duties and responsibilities to their tenants. Not only must they go through the arduous process of finding the right tenants and making sure that they look after the property appropriately, they must also learn and attend to the property’s maintenance needs and keep it safe and habitable.

They must also remain conversant with complicated and ever changing legislation. Is it any wonder why so many choose the aid of landlord services to make their lives easier? Under recent legislation, landlords are much more accountable to their tenants than ever before. But in addition to maintaining safety, landlords now have one big responsibility!

Big fines for small spaces

Rogue landlords have recently been caught renting out  spaces the size of a converted cupboard (yup, Harry Potter style) to desperate tenants to capitalise on the desperation of an uncertain housing market. These unscrupulous profiteers could now face fines with no upward limit as part of a new crackdown. As of October this year, tenants living in conditions deemed to be unsafe due to their diminutive size or overcrowded will enjoy greater legal protection.

The cupboard under the stairs

A small cupboard is hardly suitable lodgings for a boy wizard, yet this summer, outrage was sparked when it was revealed that grown adults were living in conditions similar to those of the beloved literary icon.

A property advertised as a “modern small self-contained studio flat in the heart of Hampstead village”, was on offer for £1,100 per month on spareroom.co.uk. The property seemed too good to be true for such a prestigious postcode… And it was. The “studio flat” turned out to be a tiny single room with hardly four feet of space between the bed and the kitchen sink.

This is by no means an isolated incident. In the East London neighbourhood of Beckton, a four-bedroom house was discovered to house no less than 11 sleeping spaces. One of which was a tiny 3ft by 6ft understairs cupboard. Meanwhile, while bunk beds were uncomfortably forced into diminutive single rooms.

23 into 6 doesn’t go!

Forest Hill letting agent Marvel Estates were dealt a publicity black eye (and a £7,500 fine) for attempting to squeeze 23 people into a house in Gants Hill which was only licensed by the council for six sharers.

New legislation dictates that now landlords of homes rented out to 5 people or more from different households must adhere to specific minimum room sizes.

Minimum sizes

Under new laws, a child’s bedroom must measure at least 50sq ft, while a single room for a single adult must measure at least 70sq ft, while a double room must be least 110sq ft. Given that the average UK parking space is about 126sq ft, this hardly seems much to ask.

Landlords who fail to meet these requirements as well as other basic safety requirements like smoke alarms or regular checks on gas and electrical equipment, could face a fixed penalty of up to £30,000. In more serious cases, landlords could even be prosecuted and face a fine with no upward limit.

Thousands still vulnerable

While this news is encouraging, there are currently hundreds of thousands of tenants living in smaller properties which are not not protected by the new regulations, and industry experts worry that new legislation could rebound on tenants.

Now that landlords must be licensed at a cost of an average £1,200 the worry is that these costs will inevitably be passed on to tenants while it’s feared that some landlords will reduce the number of rooms they let out in order to evade the licensing system, making their tenants vulnerable to the threat of eviction.

The Impact of Brexit on the UK Housing Market

The UK housing crisis is nothing new. In the age of austerity, house building is at its lowest since the 1920s. However, many homeowners, prospective buyers and landlords alike share a concern that a no-deal Brexit would exacerbate the current housing market crisis, precipitating a steep fall in house prices in the short-term, followed by years or even decades of uncertainty for owners and buyers.

It could see homeowners trapped in a negative equity reminiscent of the ‘80s and estate agents struggling with fewer properties on the market.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent Brexit deal was highly divisive, provoking rather than abating public uncertainty. While the PM recently survived her no-confidence vote earlier this week, many inside and outside of the Conservative party hold serious doubts about her ability to negotiate an economically viable Brexit deal…

Deal or no deal?

When Brexit negotiations first began Mrs May assured the public that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, a statement that makes for a great soundbite, but not one that many economists or the Bank of England have much faith in.

The Bank of England has issued dire warnings that a “no deal” flounce could see house prices fall by up to 35% in a worst-case scenario. This could leave homeowners all over the country trapped in negative equity with properties worth less than the value of their mortgages.

While the industry has hopes that this will be a short-term blow, from which prices will eventually recover, it’s easy to imagine the repercussions this can have on the housing market, as prospective home movers wait out the economic storm.

On the other hand, a steep drop in house prices could provide a much-needed opportunity for first time buyers who have previously been priced out of the market. Yet, in a time of economic uncertainty, who can say how willing people will be to make long-term financial commitments, or how amenable the banks will be to lending?

It may be more likely that larger landlords will simply hoover up these cheaper properties to add to their portfolios.

A strong deal

So, having looked at a no-deal scenario, what happens if a stronger deal is negotiated? This  could see a buoyant property market for all parties in 2019, with a bump in market confidence in the UK after a very shaky few years.

Leaving with a good deal (though there’s raging debate as to what that would look like) could drive the market upwards towards the end of next year, as revived consumer confidence drives economic stability, which is surely exactly what the housing industry needs at present.

Moreover, we will have up until December 2020 before anything fundamental changes, with markets remaining under existing EU regulations during the transitional period.

This makes for a far easier transition than a no-deal Brexit could offer the industry.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

While industries around the country should develop contingencies for worst case scenarios, the reality of Brexit will be a storm that the industry can hopefully weather. While the financial crash of 2007/08 hit the sector hard, the industry recovered from that and it can recover again.

The primary concern within the industry is that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Government will be too busy negotiating our ongoing trading relationships over the transitional period to focus on the problems already inherent in the housing market.

As we saw from this year’s budget, the meagre concessions made were hardly enough to address to ongoing failure of the housing market. The housing market as a whole needs to become a more serious priority for a government that uses strength and stability as its mantra. The government should certainly do more to boost infrastructure and create more opportunities for first time buyers.

Conclusion

Regardless of the result of the Brexit deal, leaving the EU could have varied repercussions for the industry with potential negative consequences for the economy impinging on the government’s ability to spend. It is a widely shared concern that as the Government scrambles to replace lost revenues in the absence of EU concessions, housing will become less and less of a priority.

A more cohesive and proactive approach from the Government and lenders should be adopted in the wake of Brexit, deal or no-deal.

Tenants Granted New Powers To Hold Rogue Landlords To Account As MPs Pass Housing Bill

For decades now, lax regulation and unscrupulous landlords have left tenants short-changed. Some have been left in cold, dank, dingy and unsafe homes unfit for human habitation while others have hads their deposits taken by unscrupulous landlords who do not take part in (or even inform their tenants of) the Deposit Protection Scheme. For too long the actions of a minority of immoral profiteers have tarnished the reputation of the vast majority of landlords who are concerned only with the welfare of their tenants. Of course, the problem of sub-par housing is not merely a problem of the private sector. The social sector has more than a few black eyes of its own

That all looked set to change this October, however, when tenants were granted new powers to take decisive legal action against rogue landlords. MPs on both sides cheered in the House of Commons after the Fitness For Human Habitation Bill was unanimously approved.  The bill will give both private and social tenants the power to hold their landlords to account in court if their home is deemed to be unsafe.

Labour MP feared for ‘suicidal’ constituents

The the private members’ bill was first proposed by opposition MP for Westminster North Karen Buck, who reported that an alarming number of her constituents were effectively trapped living in poor quality housing. Ms Buck even recalled a particular constituent who was left “suicidal” by terrible conditions. She promised that the government-backed bill would provide “new powers to hold the worst landlords to account”. She further stated;

“Many landlords take their responsibilities seriously but still a million households across the private and social sectors are forced to endure conditions which harm them or pose a serious risk of harm,”… “The effect of the bill is that the tenant will be able to take action against the landlord to make them put right any problems or hazards that make their dwelling unfit and the tenant can seek compensation when the landlord hasn’t done so.”

Responsible landlords can breathe a sigh of relief as this bill will go some way to legitimising the hard work that they put into making their properties safe, secure and desirable for tenants, although managed landlord services can be extremely helpful in taking the stress out of making sure that a property upholds its commitments under the bill.

Of course, with the memory of the Grenfell tower tragedy fresh in our minds, readers will be edified to learn that the bill also includes a ‘Grenfell clause’, which allows tenants to take action against safety issues with common areas in shared buildings.

‘Dickensian’ social housing standards

MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad of the Labour party was quick to point out that private landlords were not the only ones letting their tenants down. She spoke of “Dickensian” social housing, even stating that: “Poor housing is damaging health and sometimes killing my constituents and they have had until now no legal redress.”

Jim McMahon, the Shadow Housing Minister spoke encouragingly of the bill, issuing a stern warning to landlords that if they failed to provide habitable homes for their tenants it was time for them to consider another revenue stream. He said;

“Many of us would have received representations from private landlords who are screaming about the impact of this on their ability to make profit. Let’s be absolutely clear, if you cannot make profit by providing a clean and safe place for people to live, exit the game completely.”

Keeping tenants informed

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler mentioned that while the bill was a great step forward there was still work to be done. there is “still more to do” implying that making homes habitable was only half the battle.

It was also incumbent upon government to help to that ensure tenants know their rights and responsibilities.

Government Considering to Introduce Tax Airbnb Style Short Lets

Bad news is on the way for people renting out their property in short style type lets. Thanks to Airbnb and similar platforms, the number of people renting out rooms in their homes on a short-term basis has ballooned but could that be about to change? It might if the government decide to introduce a new tax that will make it more difficult and certainly more expensive.

Recently the government has suggested they are considering introducing a tax that will alter the current terms of the Rent A Room System. This would mean that hosts operating using a platform like Airbnb would have to pay more tax. Some may not even be paying tax right now, but those hosts would certainly have to start.

Changing The Relief System

The Rent A Room Relief system, was first established in 1992. It was used by the government to encourage people to use spare rooms in their home and make them available for rent. This was designed to allow more low-cost housing and hopefully make it easier for people on a low income to find a place to live.

Right now, it’s possible to rent a room in your home and earn up to £7,500 tax-free every year. This tax relief, according to experts is what has driven many people to decide to rent out spaces in their home using a property management company or even just an online platform. It’s unclear whether an increase in taxes would deter people from doing this in the future.

Who Will The Change Impact

The good news is that the change may only affect people who rent out their whole property rather than just a room. According to the treasury people who rent out a room in their home are using it as a second source of income or a side hustle. They will be adding a small amount onto their annual income. In contrast, the Treasury suggests that those who rent out an entire property could be making a lot more money and receive a higher income over a longer period. In other words, they could be operating more like a commercial landlord.

However, it’s also possible that changes to the Rent a Room scheme may also impact those who are renting out spare rooms in their home that could be occupied by them or even more tenants. It will be interesting to see whether this change does come to pass. Currently, it is only being considered as a possible change.

Should You Claim On Entire Properties?

Airbnb and similar platforms, as well as property managers, have always made it clear that owners should only claim relief if they are renting out single rooms in their property rather than entire homes. They seem to share the government’s belief that those who can afford to rent out an entire property can afford to pay taxation. However, the worry is that the change could also at least limit relief for people just making a little extra cash by renting a room in their home as well.

How can deposit for renters be fairer for both tenants and landlords?

We live in a generation of renters who are unable to buy a home because, although many of them can afford the ongoing costs, many can’t raise the cash to afford a mortgage. Rental properties offer a more accessible alternative, but some landlords are failing to attract tenants because high and unfair deposit systems make it just as unfeasible for tenants. Here, we’re going to look at how to keep it fair for both sides.

Reduce your risk with more frequent inspections or cleaning services

One of the larger issues facing landlords is that they feel they have to hold larger deposits because of the risks to their property. The deposit is your insurance that too much damage won’t be caused. However, you could get away for asking for less of deposit by forming a contractual agreement to inspect the property a little more often, such as twice a year instead of at the end of a tenancy. What’s more, you can recoup the costs and ensure the property remains in good condition by offering housekeeping and landscaping services as an extra with a fee attached. Making deals the benefit both tenant and landlord establishes a sense of good faith, that is likely to make the relationship and the inevitable turnover period better for both parties.

Make turnover easier for all

The turnover process is tiring for landlords and tenants alike. Landlords have to ensure that a property is vacated as soon as possible to start cleaning, advertising, and welcoming new tenants. Meanwhile, tenants need to raise the funds to pay a second deposit while still living in the property they want to leave. A deposit release scheme, in which a landlord releases some of the deposit after an initial inspection, can help tenants leave quicker. In turn, your letting agency can start advertising in advance, knowing that a tenant isn’t going to be lingering too much longer because they aren’t able to acquire the funds they need to move. A shorter turnover period helps everyone.

What about deposit replacement schemes?

There are certain insurance providers that do allow for zero deposit agreements. With these, landlords don’t have to ask for a deposit up front that can make a rental all the more appealing to potential tenants. However, the premiums on these schemes do make it much less profitable for landlords. These zero deposit insurance schemes, paired with custodial agreements that allow landlords to charge for housekeeping, could offer a real solution that benefits both parties. We simply need the insurance providers to charge lower premiums to landlords. In the meantime, a deposit release scheme might be the best solution for all parties involved, as things currently stand in the market.

The landlord has all the power when it comes to enacting a deposit system but stands to lose the most if they fail to get tenants because their current system is off-putting or too demanding. The only deposit system that will work for you is the one that works for your tenants.

6 important tips for moving out of a rented flat that can save you money

Whether moving to another rental property or stepping onto the property ladder for yourself, ending your current tenancy agreement can be a stressful moment. However, those frustrations will be far greater if you allow simple mistakes to result in financial issues.

From avoiding bills and fines to getting your full deposit returned, these six simple steps will keep you on the right track. Here’s all you need to know.

1. Inform Those That Need To Know

Of course, you’ll want to tell friends and family about your moving plans, not least because they might offer to help. However, you also need to ensure that all of the associated companies and institutions have been informed in advance. Failure could result in unnecessary bills and fees.

The list includes council tax, DVLA, TV license, and home contents insurers. Above all else, you need to tell the bank.

2. Set Up Mail Redirection

In addition to sorting out billing, registrations, and legal necessities, you should set up a mail redirection service. If moving to a new permanent address, you can have letters and packers rerouted directly there. If moving to a temporary address, they can be stored at the post office.

You can’t trust that the next tenant or homeowner will be an honest person. Given that you won’t want them to read your post, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

3. Clean Up

As a good tenant, you should have kept the property in great condition throughout the agreement. But a deep clean just before leaving is essential as over 20% of deductions relate to this issue. This should include thoroughly cleaning the floors, oven, and bathroom. Taking photos is vital too.

If there were already marks when you moved in, you’ll want to remind the landlord of those. While the DIY option is for the best, some agreements may require a professional service. Do check.

4. Know Your Rights

Even if you’ve been a perfect tenant, the property will have encountered wear and tear, especially if you lived in the property for years rather than months. Common issues include worn carpets, boiler issues, and weary-looking walls. Either way, a landlord can’t deduct you for reasonable wear.

If you do face reductions, you are well within your rights to challenge those. Those battles tend to last around six weeks, but can be a lot shorter if you know where things stand.

5. Settle Bills

As you leave the property, knowing that your rent has been fully paid is just the start. You should also ensure that broadband accounts and other household bills are squared off. Otherwise, those fees could follow you. Aside from spiralling, it could even result in legal battles and court cases.

Taking photos of gas, water, and electricity meters when you leave is vital too. Failure to do this could put you in a vulnerable position should the landlord or next tenant become awkward.

6. Get Your Deposit Back

There are many factors to consider during the moving process, but getting your deposit back will soften the financial blow. While landlords can initiate the return of this money, they often won’t. Therefore, it’s imperative that you begin this process as quickly as possible.

As long as the landlord agrees and doesn’t have a reason to make deductions, your funds will be returned in next to no time. The only thing left to do is enjoy your new home in style.

What To Do If A Tenant Doesn’t Allow You Access

There are few scenarios quite so distressing to landlords as their tenant not allowing access to their property. If you find yourself experiencing this problem, then you’re going to need to know how to resolve it.

In an effort to help you find a solution, read through the points below and apply them to the awkward situation you are experiencing.

The legalities of the situation

It’s easy to think that, as the owner of the property, access is a right— but this is not the case. When you sign a tenancy agreement, you essentially sign away your rights to access the building. The tenant is the party who has the choice as to who can and can’t enter the building, not you.

This might sound odd, but it’s actually a key component of how tenancies work. No tenant would sign an agreement where their landlord is permitted access as and when they please; they would feel violated, and unable to relax in their own home. So while there’s sympathy for landlords who cannot access their property, it’s also important to acknowledge that your tenancy agreement stipulates that the tenant has a right of refusal.

If you attempt to access the property without the tenant’s consent, then you could find yourself struggling with legal issues.

The “notice” problem

Many landlords believe that their tenant has to provide property access, providing the landlord gives 24 hours written notice. This may even be written into your contract. However, this isn’t legally enforceable, and violates the tenant’s basic rights to the “quiet enjoyment” of their home. So if your tenant still refuses access despite you giving notice, it’s important to note they do have the right to do so.

Forbidding access for essential maintenance

If you are requesting access for essential maintenance — such as the annual gas safety check — and your tenant refuses, then you have more leverage. You will likely need to take the matter to a local court, who can grant you temporary access. However, this is a time-consuming and potentially expensive process, so wherever possible, it’s best to try and talk to your tenant first.

Options to try

If your tenant is forbidding access, then you need to talk to them — preferably face to face — to ascertain the reason. They may be struggling with a heavy work schedule or suffering through a period of ill health; a refusal to allow access is not always a sign that there is something amiss with the property.

Be flexible. Offer a range of times and dates at which you wish to visit the property, so they can find something that suits your schedule.

Explain your purpose. Wanting to “check on the place” isn’t a great justification; use words like “annual inspection” or “necessary safety checks”.

Final thoughts

Unfortunately, if your tenant refuses to allow access to the property, it’s within their legal rights to do so. All you can do is ask, explain your reasons, and consider legal options if it comes to that.

At Smartspace, we’re experts at taking the stress out of owning a buy-to-let property, so feel free to get in touch to discuss our landlord services— we’ll work hard to ensure a solution to any issues you experience.

Average Monthly Rent Increases by 2.5% to £853 in England and Wales

Rental prices in England and Wales have risen by 2.5% at the start of 2018. This puts the average monthly rent at £853, causing many tenants to worry that they’ll soon be priced out of their property. With this rise in rental prices creating concern amongst regular people, many property experts are arguing that the onus is now on landlords to provide more value for money.

The Facts

This discovery came off the back of a report from Your Move (an estate agency that serves the UK) that took a look at rental prices in the last year. From the beginning of 2017, all the way through to January 2018, rent went up by 2.5% on average throughout England and Wales.

But, as we dive deeper into the report, it shows that a whopping eight out of ten regions experienced increases in rental prices. Which were the two lucky regions not to experience an increase? In the North East of England, there was actually a drop in rental prices of 2% over the course of the year. Needless to say, this was the biggest drop in price out of every region surveyed. The second region to experience a decrease in price was, rather surprisingly, London. Renters here got to enjoy a lovely 0.8% decrease.

Regional Differences

Speaking of London, while the tenants in this city aren’t paying as much as they were last year, they still pay the highest rental price on average out of every other region. Their average came out at £1,276, putting it way above the national average.

However, you can see quite remarkable fluctuations in rental prices through the London region. The Your Move report took a look at different parts based on the Underground Zones and concluded that those in Zone 5 pay the least rent (£1,098.83) and those in Zone 2 pay the most (£1,650.57). So, while you can find places in London that are considerably cheaper than others, even the cheapest Zone comes out at higher than the national average.

Then, compare this to the cheapest region (the North East), and it’s staggering. In January 2018, the north east of England had an average property rental price of just £534! As you can see, that’s well below the national average, and over £1,000 cheaper than the most expensive Zone in London.

If London and the North East were the only regions to experience a fall in rental prices, what regions experienced the biggest rise? From looking at the report, you can easily identify two main regions that both saw a big rise above the national average of 2.5%.

The North West of England, along with the East Midlands, both saw the monthly rent increase by 2.9%. This made the average January 2018 rent in the North West £636, with the East Midlands sitting on £652. So, still nowhere near London standards, but an increase for people living there nonetheless.

What Is Causing The Increase In Rent?

The big question that comes from all of this is; what’s causing the rental prices to go up? Well, the last year did see property prices increase in the UK, which inevitably has a knock-on effect on rental prices. More and more people are looking to rent a home rather than own them, and this increased demand causes landlords to raise prices.

When you look at the two regions with the most growth, some fairly good arguments explain both rises. The East Midlands is home to many big cities such as Birmingham. Recently, this has become a popular place for large corporations to set up businesses. The BBC is an example of this, with their main BBC3 headquarters moving there. As a result, you can argue Birmingham is becoming an attractive place to work, which means more interest in rental properties, driving up the price.

In the Your Move report, it stated that the North West saw a rise because places like Manchester are very desirable as they offer reasonably priced properties in great locations near lots of schools, public transport, and jobs. There’s also a selection of top Universities in the North West, and many high-quality local hospitals. It’s become a very desirable place for families to move to.

What Next?

Will rental prices continue to increase on average throughout England & Wales? It certainly seems so, and Your Move believes landlords now must take things up a notch. They should start offering more amenities, and better value for money. Some suggestions include communal gardens, and incentives to stay for longer.

London is only city in the UK where renting a flat is cheaper than buying

London is the only city in the UK where renting out a flat is cheaper than buying a property and making the mortgage payments on it, research has shown. Buying a property is cheaper than renting in 49 out of 50 largest British cities. Renters in London pay £1,840 versus the average monthly mortgage repayment of £2,168 – a £328 gap. Outside the capital, the renters who fare the best dwell in Brighton and Cambridge. However, there is a measly 1% difference between renting and buying when looking at these two places! As there’s little difference here, buying is likely the best option for those looking for somewhere new to live.

However, when looking at all of the cities in the study collectively, the average monthly mortgage payment for a 2 bedroom flat was anywhere from £564 and £136.47 less than the £700.47 average rent payment. These numbers are based on an 85 percent loan-to-value mortgage with an average asking price of £149,539. As a national average, homeowners tend to pay £136.47 less per month than renters.

Rent was found to be £1,861 on average per month in the capital, while a mortgage repayment could set a homeowner back by £3,001 a month on 2 bedroom properties, according to research carried out by Zoopla. Rents continue to dip in the London area, but are hitting an astonishing 3 year high across the rest of Britain. 57% of estate agents predict an increase in the number of renters that will join the market next year, while just 30% think more rental properties will be available to meet the demand. A huge 67% of renters think that rates will rise over the next year, which will mean a 5% increase since the year 2016.

When exploring all cities as an option, Glasgow is actually Britain’s top city for buyers. Here, monthly mortgage payments are a massive 57% cheaper (£298) than renting. Bradford and Dundee come next, with a 53% (£207) cheaper mortgage than renting property. Homeowners in the North of England and Scotland typically get the best deals. The Northern towns of Middlesbrough, Doncaster, Barnsley and Warrington are also in the top 10. If you live in any of these places, you can expect buying to continue to be a more affordable option than renting for the foreseeable future.

Where are the most affordable London boroughs for renters?

Perhaps you’re now wondering where the most affordable London boroughs for renters are. Here’s a list, in order:

  • Bexley £1,007
  • Havering, £1,083
  • Barking and Dagenham, £1,162
  • Sutton, £1,166
  • Bromley, £1,271
  • Enfield, £1,285
  • Redbridge, £1,293
  • Croydon, £1,309
  • Waltham Forest, £1,309
  • Hillingdon, £1,311

This information might put some people off buying in London. London, as with any capital,  is already a much more expensive city to spend time in, whether living there or renting. Hopefully, these figures give you an idea of the best place to go for your budget.