Here we are again on a Friday with a roundup of the week’s landlord and tenant related news items.
The How to Rent Booklet
One important item for all landlords and agents to note is that the government’s ‘How to Rent’ booklet has changed twice in close succession so make sure you are serving the right one.
As always, it is best to download it afresh from the gov.uk webpage than to use old printed copies stored in your office.
You can read about the background to the change on Nearly Legal.
Yet another housing minister
The resignations after the Chequers Brexit meeting have resulted in yet another Housing Minister, Kit Malthouse, after the departure of Dominic Raab to the Brexit office.
This is the eighth housing minister in eight years, the 17th in 21 years. A shocking state of affairs after the government has admitted that housing is ‘broken’ and it is supposed to be a top priority.
How can a minister possibly get a grip on the serious issues which affect the housing sector when they are such a short time in post?
This further example of rapid turnover has prompted calls in the industry from housing to be removed from government control altogether and given to a ‘cross-party housing tsar‘. Who would hopefully provide some stability and consistent leadership.
In the meantime, the Mirror has published an article saying Mr Malthouse is unsuitable for the post anyway as he refuses to give up his ‘lucrative second job’ as director of County Finance Group Ltd. Quoting Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey saying:
“Fixing the housing crisis is a not a part-time job.
“With home-ownership at a thirty-year low and homelessness spiralling upwards, the country deserves a full-scale commitment from the new Housing Minister.”
Problems for HMO investors
As you should know if you are an HMO landlord, the regulations are set to change in October. This will remove the three storey requirement for mandatory licensing meaning that all properties with five or more tenants which consist of two or more households will need a license.
There will be no ‘grace period’ incidentally, the rules will come into force immediately on 1 October putting thousands of landlords at risk of prosecution and claims by their tenants for Rent Repayments Orders.
However, another potential problem is that investors may struggle to re-mortgage after the changes come in, particularly in view of the introduction of minimum room sizes, meaning many are trying to re-mortgage now.
Andrew Turner of Commercial Trust Limited says:
‘Investors looking to remortgage may find that a lender will only base rental stress calculations on rental income from the bedrooms that do meet local licensing rules. That could make obtaining the required level of financing a lot tougher.’
Good news on cladding
Residents of London tower blocks at New Capital Quay in London are rejoicing as the NHBC have accepted liability and will be covering the expensive cost of cladding remedial works.
One woman had been told that her flat, previously valued at £475,000 was worth just £50,000! Presumably, the valuation has now gone up again.
NHBC said that this decision would not set a precedent but undoubtedly it will give hope to flat owners in other affected blocks.
An interesting article on Property Industry Eye looks at some of the statistics from the latest English Housing Survey, eg:
- Owner occupiers now form 63% of households
- Homeowners are now older, the proportion of homeowners under 35 was 9% whereas two decades ago, it was 18%.
- More homeowners own their property outright – 34% while 28% were mortgagors, believed to be largely due to baby boomers paying off their mortgages
- The private rented sector, now 20% of households, has doubled in size since 1996/1997, with growth accelerating since 2006/2007.
- The social rented sector is now the smallest with 17% of households.
- A recent report says the housing problem is perpetuated by housing being built in the wrong places.
- Wales has published a new guide for landlords on ethics and diversity
- A landlord and his gas safety engineer have been prosecuted for falsifying gas safety records
Newsround will be back next week.