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UK PRS Rents Highest In EuropePRS Rents Still Increasing

Rent paid by tenants in the UK’s private rental sector, (PRS), increased by 2.1% in the 12 months up to and including March 2015, according to the latest published figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), drawing claims from the National Housing Federation (NHF), that the UK is the most expensive country to rent property in within the European union.

In the 12 months to March 2015 UK PRS rents increased by:

  • 2.1% in England
  • 2.1% in Scotland
  • 0.8% in Wales

UK PRS rents are the highest in Europe, taking up 40% of tenant income despite having the shortest length of secure tenancies. In comparison our European counterparts only pay an average of 28% of their income on rent.

The NHF analysed the ONS data and found that on average UK PRS rents of approximately £750 per month for properties were almost double the rental costs of dwellings in countries like Germany and Holland, where average earnings are similar. However, it is worse for tenants in shared UK properties, who typically spent around 55% of their income on rent.

Across Europe, 43% of tenants had moved property in the last five years while in the UK this figure was more like 77%.

When the figures are analysed more closely it works out that approximately 23 minutes of every hour worked by UK PRS tenants is spent on rent; elsewhere in Europe, it is more like only 17 minutes.

The NHF also showed that the UK has repeatedly failed to invest in its own housing stock when compared to European standards, between 1996 and 2011 only 3% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was invested in UK housing, compared to 6% in Germany and 5% in France.

Other findings from the analysis include the fact that 72% of tenants renting in the UK private rental sector are employed compared to 62% of residential owner-occupiers.

NHF chief executive David Orr commented on the findings, stating: “UK tenants get a raw deal in comparison to their continental counterparts. High rents are just one symptom of the UK’s housing crisis, as a nation, we are simply not building enough houses due to under investment and problems with the land market.”

Interest Rate Rises Could Stall UK Rental Property Market

Interest Rate Rises Could Stall UK Rental Property Market

Interest Rate Rises Could Decimate
UK Rental Property Market

The recent changes in the dynamics of the UK property market are forcing a number of mortgage lenders and property investment specialists to advise clients how they can better protect themselves.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has claimed that the BoE has no immediate plans to increase the base interest rate, currently remaining at the 0.5% record low, however this situation could change within the next twelve months.

The UK property market remains in a fairly delicate state and affordable residential properties are being bought with amazing speed, as the UK economy continues to improve but property prices are predicted to rise considerably over the next few months.

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More Home Owners Move To Private Rental Sector

More Home Owners Move To Private Rental Sector

Many new tenants in the private rental sector are former home-owners who have opted to become tenants due to the increasing financial pressures associated with home ownership.

In fact more people are quitting home ownership to become private tenants, than are leaving the private rental sector to become home-owners.

The “Generation Rent” trend was identified by the English Housing Survey, which estimated that there were 22 Million households in England in 2011/12.

The trend underlines the fact that home ownership levels in the UK have continued to fall over recent years as the number of households in private rental sector accommodation has increased.

  • 65% of property in the UK is owned by the occupiers
  • 17% are private rental sector properties
  • 17% are social housing

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Dutch Property Market Avoided By Property Buyers

Dutch Property Market Avoided By Property Buyers

Property investors are avoiding buying property in the Netherlands because they fear the property market is yet to hit rock bottom

The Netherlands are the only country in Europe that is still creating its own new land, however, property prices in the Netherlands are continuing to fall alarmingly, putting off purchasers and investors alike.

Property prices of residential properties in Holland are at the same level as they were 10 years earlier, and are still falling, reflecting the stagnant housing market in the country.

According to a joint publication by Statistics Netherlands and the Land Registry Office, prices of existing owner-occupied residential properties in The Netherlands were on average 7.6% lower in April 2013 than they were in April 2012 and 19.5% down from the peak of the global property market of August 2008.

Residential property prices are falling as a consequence of ultra low demand from property buyers.

Official figures reveal that only a total of 29,644 residential property sales were registered in the country during the first four months of 2013, compared to the same period last year.

The Financieele Dagblad reported recently that Dutch banks’ housing market specialists would no longer be making predictions over the decline in residential property prices.

Last year, the banks predicted a further fall in Dutch property prices in 2013 between 7% and 10%.

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Avoid Property Fraud

Avoid Property Fraud

There has been a great deal of stuff and nonsense bandied about by the media concerning property fraud over recent months, however, most of it has been fairly erronious.

To mark the launch of the UK Land Registry’s “Property Fraud Hotline” earlier this month, here are a few tips to help landlords and property owners to protect the registration of their assets.

  1. Property fraud can happen in many ways. Fraudsters may attempt to acquire ownership of a property either by using a forged document to transfer it into their own name, or by impersonating the registered owner. Once they have raised money by mortgaging the property without the owner’s knowledge, they disappear without making repayments leaving the owner to deal with the consequences.
  2. The property fraud line on 0300 006 7030 is available from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday. An online reporting form is also available at http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/contact-us/report-fraud or customers who prefer to email or wish to contact Land Registry outside business hours.
  3. The line is not a substitute for reporting allegations of fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 (who will pass your report on to the police) or for taking independent legal advice.
  4. In 2011, half of the 52 claims paid out by Land Registry for fraud and forgery were by non-family members. Of these, 22 involved properties with an absent owner and amounted to £1.5 Million (GBP) out of the total £7.2 Million (GBP) paid for fraud and forgery claims.
  5. Two publications for property owners are available free from Land Registry – Public Guide 17 How to safeguard against property fraud and Public Guide 2 Keeping your address for service up to date.
  6. With the largest transactional database of its kind detailing over 23 million titles, Land Registry underpins the economy by safeguarding ownership of many billions of pounds worth of property.
  7. As a government department established in 1862, executive agency and trading fund responsible to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Land Registry keeps and maintains the Land Register for England and Wales. The Land Register has been an open document since 1990.
  8. For further information about Land Registry visit www.landregistry.gov.uk

The UK Land Registry’s trial of a free restriction for absent owners is being continued, so far around 5,000 properties have been protected in this way since the trial began in February 2012.

Designed to help prevent forgery, the restriction requires a solicitor or conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner.

There is no Land Registry fee for property owners who wish to register this restriction as long as they do not live in the property, (i.e landlords).

Owner occupiers will have to pay a small fee.

UK Land Registry Launches Property Fraud Hotline

UK Land Registry Launches Property Fraud Hotline

A new fraud line has just been launched that allows property owners who are concerned that their property might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage quickly alert the UK Land Registry.

Callers can speak to specially trained staff for practical guidance about what to do next.

The telephone number is 0300 006 7030

Lines are open from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

The types of properties most vulnerable to fraudulent registrations or even mortgage fraud are usually empty, tenanted or mortgage-free residential properties.

Individuals at a higher risk of fraud include owners who do not live in the property because they live abroad, buy to let landlords, are in long term hospital or residential care or where a relationship has broken down. Other high risk property types include a landlord’s previous residential address that has since become a rental property controlled by the owner.

Examples of property fraud include situations where a buy to let landlord gets a call from a local estate agent saying that one of his rental properties seems to be being marketed for sale or where a relative learns the property has been ’stolen’ by a fraudster impersonating the deceased proprietor.

Alasdair Lewis, Director of Legal Services said: “Fraud affects all parts of today’s society and everyone in it, costing this country an estimated £38 billion each year. Government has a zero tolerance to fraud against the public purse but in order to fight fraud, everyone needs to work together. The need for everyone to play their part is just as relevant in the fight against property fraud as in other contexts. Our award-winning Counter-Fraud Unit works closely with the police and other agencies to reduce the risk of property fraud. Since September 2009, our measures have prevented fraud valued at £52 million but with an average indemnity payout of some £150,000, fraud is still a fundamental risk to our business.”

Additionally, as part of its commitment to a range of counter-fraud measures, Land Registry’s trial of a free restriction for absent owners is being continued. Around 5,000 properties have been protected in this way since the trial began in February 2012.

Designed to help prevent forgery, the restriction requires a solicitor or conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner. There is no Land Registry fee for home owners who wish to register this restriction as long as they do not live in the property. Owner occupiers pay a small fee.

Land Registry’s Counter-Fraud Unit picked up the top prize in the Fraud Prevention Category at the inaugural Fighting Fraud Awards, supported by the National Fraud Authority, in December 2012.

Land Registry’s top tips to help owners protect their property from fraudsters:

  • Make sure your property is registered. If you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer a financial loss as a consequence, you may be compensated.
  • Once registered, have up-to-date contact details so we can reach you easily.
  • You can have up to three addresses on the register, email addresses or an address abroad can be used. The more information you provide, the more chance we have of reaching you if we need to.

The number of owner-occupied households has continued to fall, according to the latest English Housing Survey.

The EHS 2010/11 survey says there were 14.45 Million owner-occupied households, compared with a peak of 14.79 Million in 2005.

By contrast, the number of Private Rental Sector (PRS) households has dramatically increased to 3.62 Million, compared with 2.45 Million in 2005.

In 2010-11

  • 66% of households were owner occupiers
  • 17% were private renters
  • 17% were social tenants.

The biggest shift towards renting in 2010/11 was in the 16 to 34-year-old age group.

  • 36% of this age group were in owner occupation
  • 18% were social renters
  • 46% were renting privately.

When compared with 1991, 60% of this age group were owner occupiers and 18% were renting privately.

The average household size for all households was 2.3 people, with 29% of all households containing just one person.

Owner occupiers were richer than private tenants, but paid less on a mortgage than tenants did on rent. An owner-occupier household had an annual income of £40,900 (GBP) compared with £29,000 (GBP) for private tenants. Owner occupiers made average weekly mortgage payments of £143 (GBP), compared with average weekly rent of £160 (GBP).

On average, weekly mortgage payments were 19% of home owners’ income, while weekly rent payments were 43% of tenants’ income. Private tenants had the highest housing costs of all three groups – owner occupiers, private tenants and social tenants.

The English Housing Survey also noted a significant fall in the number of households with a mortgage, down from 8.3 Million in 1996-97 to 7.1 Million in 2010-11.

There has also been a major change in the type of mortgage: in 1996-97, 33% of mortgages were repayment loans, while in 2010-11 this had increased to 73%. Only 3% of mortgages were interest-only in 1996-97, but the proportion had increased to 13% in 2010-11.

The survey found that 59% of private tenants and 23% of social tenants expect to buy a residential property at some point, and 16% had considered buying a home in the previous 12 months.

However, there was not much confidence about UK property prices: in nearly every region other than London, a larger proportion of households thought their property value had decreased rather than increased in value over the previous year. Around 1% believed they were in negative equity.

2012 Buy-To-Let Mortgage Numbers Increase By A Third

2012 Buy-To-Let Mortgage Numbers Increase By A Third

There are fresh fears that First-Time Buyers (FTBs) and next time buyers are being forced out of the UK residential property market by Buy-To-Let landlords.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said that 32,300 Buy-To-Let mortgage loans were made over the first quarter of 2012, a 32% increase on the first three months of 2011.

Meanwhile, according to chartered surveyors E.serv, the number of residential property mortgages lent to first-time buyers in April 2012 fell to their lowest level for 9 months. The company said that loans made to first-time buyers in April numbered just 11,307, a drop of 5% from March 2012 and the lowest since July 2011.

Mainstream mortgage lenders are increasingly reluctant to accept applications from First-Time Buyers due to low Loan-To-Value (LTV) rates and the size of deposit required. Instead there is a preference to lend to Buy-To-Let landlords, who are less likely to default on mortgage payments because they are able to utilise specialist Rent Guarantee insurance products to keep cashflow constant.

Richard Sexton, business development director at E.serv, said “Mortgage companies have begun to scale back lending to first-time buyers. Buy-to-let landlords are taking the places of first-time buyers as there is an absence of them in the market place because they can’t get loans. The UK housing market would be in a far worst place than it is now if it were not for the return of buy-to-let landlords”.

Chief Executive of Dragonfly Property Finance, Jonathan Samuels, said “There has been a seriously sharp spike in mortgage loan applications for buy-to-let properties in the first four months of 2012. A shortage of rental stock and strong demand from the growing number of tenants forced to rent will keep driving the sector forward. There’s a lot of portfolio building, as investors continue to add properties to give them increased exposure. People are seeing Buy-To-Let as a pretty stable place to be because residential property prices are falling and mortgage lenders still see lending to owner-occupiers as risky. Investors feel that there’s a lot left in the buy-to-let market and are putting their money where their mouth is”.

However there are warnings that buy-to-let landlords will need to know what they’re doing when it comes to best rental practices and should take appropriate measures to protect their rental income, such as thoroughly referencing tenants and ensuring Rent Guarantee insurance is in place. Landlords should also be prepared for Bank of England interest rates to rise anytime within the next 12 months as the UK struggles to escape the grip of recession.

The CML said that although lending to buy-to-let landlords has grown sharply in the last year, it is still at only 30% of 2007 levels.

With average loan-to-values on buy-to-let mortgages at 75% and average minimal rental cover at 125% it is unlikely that Buy-To-Let mortgage lending will recover to the same levels seen in 2007, as 25% deposits will prevent many amateur landlords from buying rental property.

UK Government Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, said: “We do not have to make a choice between first time buyers and buy to let. We need both. And while a third of all mortgages went to first time buyers last year, only 12% went to buy-to-let landlords. But I’m determined to pull out all the stops for those who want to get on the property ladder, which is why in March the Prime Minister and I launched the NewBuy Guarantee scheme which is expected to enable up to 100,000 aspiring homeowners to buy newly built properties with just a fraction of the deposit they would normally need.”

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