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UK Property Market Predictions For 2015

UK Property Market Predictions For 2015

What Will Happen To
The UK Property Market In 2015?

Happy New Year to all our readers, and welcome to the usual confusion over what the year ahead will bring for the UK property market.

Property prices are still predicted to rise in 2015, albeit at a much slower pace than in 2014, with economists and property experts providing forecasts ranging from 3% to 5% property price growth.

However, there are a few events that might affect the UK property market in 2015, namely the general election that will be held in May and the growing probability of Bank of England (BoE) raising the base interest rate.

Regarding the general election, it all could depend which party wins or what coalition combination is named to form the Government, after Labour recently confirmed that they would introduce a mansion tax if they come to power. Meaning that the changes to Stamp Duty that were announced in the 2014 Autumn budget would be negated if Labour win.

Less clear is what will happen with Bank of England interest rates. It had been predicted that a small rise, either by a quarter to half of a percent, was going to be introduced before the end of 2014, but that didn’t happen. Then it was going to be early 2015 but that is now also looking very unlikely.

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Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Slams Government

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Slams Government

Government Not Doing Enough
To End Housing Shortage

A recent study by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has shown that the Government still are not doing enough to alleviate the chronic shortage of residential housing in the UK.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors have again stated that successive governments have failed to produce a coherent long-term strategy for UK housing.

The RICS housing commission may concede that some of the coalition government’s policies are producing short-term help for the UK house building industry but they are prepared to argue that successive ministers’ lack of consistency in policy over the past 50 years has exacerbated the failures of the UK property market.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors think that current Government housing policies are merely clearing up the problems left by their Labour party predecessors, and current government ministers are struggling to find a viable alternative solution to the current housing shortage.

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Landlords expected to do UK border agency's job for them

Landlords expected to do UK border agency’s job for them

Private landlords are set to become an extra line in UK Border Control as they will be legally responsible for ensuring that they only let rental properties to people allowed to be in the UK under immigration laws announced in the Queen’s Speech.

This means that Private Rental Sector (PRS) and social housing landlords will have a responsibility to make sure their tenants are in the country legally

Over 3 million buy-to-let landlords are rental property owners in the UK private sector and will be responsible for checking the immigration status of all potential tenants, with fines running into thousands of pounds for those breaking the law.

Employers will also face more substantial fines for employing on illegal immigrants.

It appears that UK landlords and employers are expected to police the immigration system as unpaid members of the UK Border Agency.

Landlords are being given additional responsibility with no recompense other than the threat of heavy fines for failure to comply. Why are we expected to do the UK Border Agency’s job for them when they are paid handsomely for failing to do the job they are employed by the Government to do?

Does this mean that Landlords will be given a financial incentive to turn informant?

I don’t think so…

The new measures are included in an amended Immigration Bill will also limit the ability of European migrants to claim UK state benefits and ensure that the right to residence in the UK on the basis of family commitments is not abused by criminal elements. The UK judicial system will be expected to balance the nature and seriousness of the crime committed against the right to remain resident in the UK.

Temporary migrants will be charged for use of NHS services and only those who have lived in an area for at least two years will qualify for social housing. Regulations will also be amended to ensure that European immigrants cannot claim benefits for more than six months if they do not actively seek legal employment and show they have a genuine chance of obtaining work.

The legislation has been drawn up as the Coalition Government struggles to contain the electoral threat posed by the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which has hard-line immigration policies.

The details of how the measures will be implemented will be set out later in the year. The plans will be the subject of a formal consultation in the coming months.

Ministers expect the legal requirements on landlords will affect those letting rooms in houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) properties. However, the measure will be universal and it will be the responsibility of all landlords to seek copies of passports and appropriate visas.

It is unclear how landlords are supposed to verify the authenticity of documentation, as many employers have already discovered to their cost since the tightening of employment rules surrounding immigrant workers, as falsified information has no way of being checked and is only up to the diligence of the employer to ascertain the true identity of their employees.

The limit of the financial penalties set to be levied on landlords who fail to comply is also yet to be decided but is expected to be severe and may run into thousands of pounds.

Landlords Urged Not To Discriminate Against Benefit Tenants

According to fresh research from the National Housing Federation, (NHF) there has been a 417,830 rise in the number of social (council) housing tenants over the past three years.

It has coincided with a significant decline in the number of landlords willing to let properties to tenants receiving housing benefit following the Government’s welfare reform and cuts to Local Housing Allowances (LHA), paid to tenants in private rented sector (PRS) accommodation.

Both the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and the National Landlords Association (NLA) have already reported that many landlords have already withdrawn from the LHA market or are planning to do so.

This is a short sighted knee-jerk reaction as landlords fear losing out on healthy rental returns if they are housing tenants claiming housing benefit.

The LHA rate may have been capped but the government insist that such measures are necessary to help preserve the economy of the UK. Landlords can ask tenant’s to pay top up’s on their monthly rental which could come from the (up to) £25,000 worth of other benefits claimed by families.

It is almost as though the current Con-Dem coalition Government want to put private rented sector landlords out of business by squeezing from both ends, the difficulty in obtaining mortgages or even being able to re-mortgage and limiting the pool of potential tenants to only those who are employed earning enough to be able to afford to buy property themselves.

Is it the government’s big idea to get all benefit tenants to only live in social housing?

If that’s so then why continue to sell off social housing stock when there is already a national housing shortage?

Are all departments within government mute, or just stupid, do they not share information with each other?

Private sector landlords are in danger of being put out of business by the Government, we need to do something about it!

 

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Gross mortgage lending declined to an estimated £10.2 Billion (GBP) in April 2012.

Mortgage lending fell by 19% from £12.6 Billion (GBP) in March 2012 but was 2% higher than the total of £10.0 Billion (GBP) in April 2011, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

CML chief economist Bob Pannell comments:“Mortgage lending activity has been relatively buoyant in recent months, with stronger lending for house purchase underpinning the more upbeat lending picture. The underlying picture is likely to be a bit stronger than the April figure suggests, because some first-time buyers are likely to have brought forward their transactions to March 2012 to take advantage of the stamp duty concession that was coming to an end in March 2012. Eurozone developments remain highly uncertain and have the potential to undermine UK economic prospects and conditions in our housing and mortgage markets. The underlying picture is likely to be one of easing momentum in the housing market, but with potential for a sharper downwards correction on bad Eurozone news.”

ARLA calls for more investment in UK buy to let

ARLA Calls For More Investment In UK Buy-To-Let Property Rental Market

The Association of Residential Letting Agents, (ARLA), have urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to use the forthcoming Budget to encourage more investment into the UK’s Private Rented Sector, (PRS).

ARLA have called on the UK coalition Government to support the observed growth in the UK Buy-To-Let sector and remove many of the prohibitive barriers to further investment.

ARLA’s Budget submission calls for landlords to be treated as running businesses for Capital Gains Tax purposes, for the introduction of roll-over relief for landlords looking to reinvest, and for UK Stamp Duty to be made fairer.

UK landlords currently have to shop around for a wide range of landlord services in order to help them save money and operate as a business. The emergence of Tenant Referencing and Tenant Eviction services and the development of specialist Landlord Insurance products have ensured that there is still money to be made, by UK landlords, from the UK PRS rental market.

ARLA’s Operations Manager Ian Potter, said: “Buy To Let landlords must be treated as the entrepreneurial businesses they have now become. Supporting growth and encouraging greater investment into the private rented sector will help boost our economy and is an open goal for the Chancellor. Demand for private rented housing continues to grow, with 3.4 Million tenants living in the private rented sector – an increase of over 1 Million tenants since 2005. The tax system can be used by the Government to incentivise investment in housing stock in the PRS, and therefore improve the conditions in which those 3.4 Million tenants live. Some landlords face tax bills of up to 28% when selling a property, preventing them from reinvesting in the market.”

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The UK coalition Government’s NewBuy scheme was launched today, (12th March), aiming to provide a much needed boost for people seeking first-time buyer mortgages.

A recent survey by property portal Rightmove questioned over 2,726 potential house purchasers between March 5th and 7th 2012 about their awareness of the 95% NewBuy mortgages and how the new Government backed scheme might affect them.

Their results of the survey found that nearly 2 in every 5 first-time buyers believe that the introduction of the scheme means they are more likely to get on the housing ladder within the next 12 months.

The NewBuy scheme is available only on UK new-build properties.

However, some critics were already questioning the scheme before any official announcement was made.

Labour’s shadow housing minister Jack Dromey claimed that only 3 out of the original 7 lenders were participating, and that the number of developers in the scheme had fallen from 25 to 7.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders, which up until last week was unable to confirm whether the launch was even going to go ahead despite being co-architect of the scheme.

The CML issued a general, guarded statement, adding that it would issue further information when details of the scheme and participants were available.

CML Director General, Paul Smee, said: “NewBuy mortgages will help creditworthy borrowers who simply haven’t yet managed to build up a large enough deposit to gain access to finance to buy a newly-built home. NewBuy is good news for home-buyers, and potentially good news for jobs and the wider economy too. Borrowers need to understand the implications of high loan-to-value (LTV), borrowing, so we will be supporting the initiative with clear consumer information to help people decide whether NewBuy borrowing is an attractive option for them.”

The House Builders Federation (HBF) also issued a statement just days after it too had to admit it did not know for sure if today’s launch would go ahead.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said: “NewBuy will help thousands of people to meet their aspirations to buy a new home, freeing up the housing market and helping first-time buyers and those unable to take the next step on the ladder. The scheme will also provide a vital kick-start for house builders large and small who will be able to build the homes and create the jobs that the country desperately needs.

According to the research by Rightmove, 38% of those looking to buy for the first time stated they would be more likely to purchase a home over the next 12 months once the scheme was launched.

The scheme could also benefit ‘second-steppers’ – those looking to sell and trade up for the first time – with 24% of respondents in this group stating they would be more likely to purchase over the next 12 months.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: “NewBuy looks set to give a significant housing boost to the fortunes of those who need it the most. We’ve found that raising a deposit has long been the major obstacle for those looking to purchase a new home at the foot of the housing ladder. NewBuy helps address this challenge, and we’ve found that the knock-on effect is that, as of today, nearly two in five first-time buyers will be more likely to getting on the housing ladder via thanks to this initiative. First-time buyers and second-steppers have long been frustrated in their efforts to get on to or move up the housing ladder by prohibitive deposit requirements. Four out of ten first-time buyers cited ‘raising enough of a deposit’ to be their single biggest housing market concern in our recent First-Time Buyer Report. NewBuy opens the door to these groups and can also serve as a great stimulus to help safeguard and create jobs in the new build property sector.”

The HSBC and Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks have already said they will not be participating, and neither LloydsTSB or Santander have deals ready although Nationwide has said it will have NewBuy deals available.

Institutional Investment is needed in UK Buy To Let Sector

Institutional Investment is needed in UK Buy To Let Sector

The Council of Mortgage Lenders, (CML), think the coalition Government’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne should be doing more to encourage institutional investors to take a stake in Buy To Let property in the upcoming Budget.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders are the trade body for all the UK’s major bank and building society residential mortgage lenders.

The CML claim encouraging pension funds and corporate investors is a neglected policy that could provide the cash for more UK homes that can be made available to rent.

The suggestion is part of a wide-ranging Budget review aimed at influencing the Chancellor to ease the mortgage market. The submission also criticises current housing policies, including:

• Stamp duty holidays for first time buyers, which the CML claims creates a boom and bust market around deadline dates
• Paying housing benefits direct to claimants may damage landlord cash flows and lead to unnecessary mortgage arrears and repossessions
• Making better use of housing stock as, the CML states, most of the homes available over the next 20 years have already been built

The CML has told the Chancellor that given the vulnerabilities and uncertainties, it is important to make sure that all avenues, for strengthening and diversifying funding structures, have been explored.

The CML have also noted that the government continues to explore the obstacles to greater institutional investment in the supply of private rental property, but, strangely, the further scope for promoting domestic institutional investor interest in mortgage assets seems to be a neglected area of policy.

The Budget report also points out that UK banks and building societies rely heavily on raising funds from wholesale markets which are currently challenged by the Eurozone debt problems.

“Funding costs remain higher than a year ago, and the UK remains vulnerable to future eurozone developments. Given that current market conditions are somewhat fragile, it is very important that other government policies do not undermine housing market sentiment more generally. We believe that there are a few areas where policies are not as well aligned as they could be.” says the CML.

The CML’s calls echo the sentiment of many existing UK landlords who have had to search for a variety of additional landlord services such as insurance, tenant referencing and tenant eviction services from private sector specialist suppliers, in order to remain in a profitable situation.

With institutional investment into the UK private rented sector (PRS) specialist products and services for landlords will be enhanced for the corporate market and derivatives would be more affordable and even more readily available.

Despite the exorbitant claims about lower LHA rents and the acceptance of them by private rented sector, (PRS), landlords made by the coalition government Prime Minister David Cameron in Parliament on January 11th. Only a handful of landlords with tenants on Local Housing Allowance are actually accepting lower rents in exchange for getting rent paid to them directly.

The claim by the Prime Minister David Cameron that private rents are falling as a result of welfare reforms was wrong!

Mr Cameron had claimed in Parliament on January 11th 2012 that: “rent levels have come down, so we have stopped ripping off the taxpayer”. Apparently he was quoting rental data from LSL Property Services, which had only been quoting falling private sector rents.

The data published by LSL Property Services does not take into account LHA rents.

In an attempt to get landlords to lower rents, councils have temporary powers to pay landlords, rather than tenants, the LHA in exchange for lowered rents.

A later statement from 10 Downing St said: “Private landlords were reducing rents – lessening the impact of benefit cuts – in return for local housing allowance being paid directly to them.

The prime minister made his wildly inaccurate claim in the middle of the Welfare Reform Bill’s rough ride through the House of Lords at a time when his government was desperately seeking to convince peers that the package of reforms would not increase homelessness as tenants would be left struggling to meet their rents under the new benefit caps.

Mr Cameron’s claims that private rents are falling as a result of the governments welfare reforms were difficult to swallow for a number of property professionals, prompting one magazine to take action.

The same data was quoted again on 30th January 2012 by Housing minister Grant Shapps, who seized on the same survey by estate agency LSL Property Services, citing it as the evidence Mr Cameron had used to support his claims.

The survey did indeed show rents fell by 0.8% in December – the second successive monthly fall.

However, if the data is examined correctly, the figures reveal the seasonal drop in private sector rents before Christmas was actually less than the 2.3% drop in December 2010 and rents overall had actually risen 4% year-on-year.

The magazine Inside Housing, used the Freedom of Information Act to request information on LHA rents from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and every local authority in England following Mr Cameron’s claim in the House of Commons.

204 local authorities responded, with only 36 reporting any rent reductions in return for direct payment of LHA. Of the 36, 12 reported a combined total of 65 landlords cutting rents, an average of fewer than six landlords in each area.

The DWP says it has ‘no data records’ of how many landlords have reduced rents, but it has collected ‘anecdotal evidence’ from around 80 councils.

It states: ‘The majority have reported that they have used the new safeguard to help claimants negotiate down rents and all plan to use it during 2012 as transitional (payment) protection runs out.

The Inside Housing survey suggests that most PRS landlords are not even remotely tempted to accept lower rental payments for their properties, either directly from local authorities or not.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have each disputed the claim rents are falling and believe landlords are more likely to reduce the number of tenancies let to benefit recipients, warning that landlords would rather re-let their properties at the full market price to working tenants, and are able to do so in the current climate of high rental demand.

Labour’s shadow housing minister, Jack Dromey, has already written to number 10 about the issue but received no response and will raise the matter in parliament demanding that Mr Cameron corrects his statement or justifies it.

Mr Dromey said: “Now we know the truth. The nationwide Inside Housing story exposes the reality of rising rents in most areas of the country and explodes the myth that rents are falling”.

 

The British Property Federation (BPF) handed a bit of good news to UK landlords who may have been struggling to make ends meet, after it was revealed that the UK coalition government may review imposing powers forcing landlords to share information on changes of tenancy with water companies, as well as making them liable for a defaulting tenant’s debts.

The failure of tenants to pay water bills for the property they are renting costs landlords and other home owning customers around £15 extra per year.

The new Flood and Water Management Act would mean that the government could make landlords and property owners pay water and sewerage bills if specified details of tenant occupiers are not forwarded to the relevant utility company departments.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, explained: “Government policy in other areas is pushing for personal responsibility and the same should apply here that landlords should not be held liable for their tenants’ debts, which is simply unfair. We therefore welcome this review and agree that water companies could do more to limit bad debts. Landlords already provide a lot of information voluntarily, though this could be much easier and transparent with the right systems in place”.

Legal 4 Landlords advise all UK landlords to inform all utility companies (Gas, Electricity and Water) at the start and end of every tenancy as normal practice for all tenancies.

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