Welcome to the April 2018 edition of our regular Newsletter, designed to update our landlords on property matters.
Gillian and The Team Househandlers
What’s happening in the market
Forecasts for 2018 provide a fairly gloomy – or flat at best – picture for property in the South East. A recent poll conducted by Reuters, involving 28 housing market specialists, says that property prices will rise by 1.3 per cent nationally, but fall by 0.3 per cent in London. A reflection of the cool-down is the growing number of house sellers who are becoming less confident when demanding their asking prices. Property website Zoopla says more than a third of homes on the market in November had had their original asking price reduced, marking a 1.25 percentage point increase compared with July. Figures from Savills show that there has already been a fall in the number of mortgaged investment property purchases made by investors and they predict there will be a drop of 27% over the next five years – down by 10,000 in real terms in 2018. This is believed to be due to the ‘triple hit’ of the extra 3% stamp duty, the restriction of tax relief on mortgage interest payments, and increased mortgage regulation. Given that we are only at the start of the staggered introduction of the reduced tax relief schedule and mortgage regulation for portfolio landlords, it is predicted that those who stay in the market will increasingly look for cheaper, higher-yielding properties in order to make the figures stack up, and that might mean landlords moving away from London and the South of England.
Hot topic – Fixed Wire Testing
Currently, it is not a requirement in England to carry out fixed wire testing. However, it is already a requirement in Scotland and there is considerable pressure following the Grenfell Tower tragedy for this to be introduced. Fixed wire testing involves having a qualified expert inspect and test the main wiring systems in a property. For a rental property, best practice would be for a test to be carried out at five-year intervals. The test would identify any problems that would need addressing, including overloaded circuits, inept wiring or damaged sockets, and potential fire or shock risks that would otherwise go unnoticed. Electricity can be extremely dangerous, and as it’s largely invisible issues often arise without any warning at all. Wiring naturally deteriorates over time due to ageing, wear and tear and overuse. If you would like to arrange a test for your property, please contact us.
Energy Performance Certificates – happy 10th birthday! It is now 10 years since EPCs were introduced, and as a consequence early certificates that were issued may be expiring soon. Key points that you need to be aware of are:
1) Before you can market a property, you must have a valid certificate, or be able to prove that you have commissioned a certificate
2) If our EPC shows an energy performance rating of F or G, you will not be able to let the property until you have carried out the work required to obtain at least an E rating. If your current EPC has a rating of F or G then, whilst you will need to take action, it might not be as bad as you think: · Since introduction, there have been changes made to the algorithm used to calculate ratings. A property that had a rating of F 10 years’ ago may well have a rating of E now. · As part of the inspection, you will be provided with a list of works that would improve your rating. Some of these may well be quick and easy wins.
Please let us know if you would like us to arrange an EPC for your property.
Gas Safety Certificates – some good news for a change! If your property has a gas supply, then you are required to obtain a Gas Safety Certificate each year. The current legislation is inflexible – if your inspection is carried out a week before the expiry of the current certificate then those seven days are “lost”. Whilst we do our best, availability means that it’s not always possible for the inspection to be carried out on a current certificate’s expiry day. The Government intends to introduce some flexibility (expected to be from April). An “MOT-style” approach is to be adopted that means that an inspection can be carried out within the two-month period before the expiry date, whilst still retaining the original renewal date and avoiding “lost days”. We cannot over-emphasize the importance of having a valid certificate and the whole host of potential issues that may occur if you do not have one. For example, you would not be able to force a tenant to leave, even if they aren’t paying their rent. The legal duty to obtain a certificate rests with the landlord, not the agent.
Tenants’ right to sue landlords
The Government has announced that it will back a Private Member’s Bill that will allow tenants to sue landlords that provide properties that are unfit for human habitation throughout the tenancy. This is part of the Government’s program to drive out the worst landlords and raise standards. From April, a database of rogue landlords and property agents convicted of certain offences is to be established, with banning orders for the worst offenders.
What’s happening at househandlers?
We’re expanding! Whilst we’re sad that Roxi Lyons has decided to leave us, we’re excited to have been able to recruit: · Arran Weeraratne – Administrator. Most of you will have spoken to or corresponded with Arran. He joined us in September last year and has been busy learning the ropes and getting to know our clients and properties. Arran always has a smile and is keen to help with what ever the customer may need. · Anne Howker – our Property Co-Ordinator. I am delighted to welcome Anne into the househandlers team. She brings with her a wealth of property experience, particularly property management and I know she is keen to meet you all and I am sure you will find her experience as valuable an asset as I do. We’re also delighted to announce that, as flagged in the December newsletter, househandlers has now entered the sales market. We offer packages to suit all budgets, with our all-inclusive service of 0.75% of the sale price or for as little as £850 if owners want to do the viewings themselves. As a thank you to you, our value customers, we’re offering £200 for any referrals that sell through us. ============================================================
REWARDS FOR REVIEWS If you are an existing Landlord, complete the below 2 steps and we will send you a £50.00 M&S gift card. Simple as that! 1. Emailing us a testimonial about your experience with Househandlers Ltd. The testimonial may be published on our website. 2. Leaving us a review or rating on Google: Drop us an email once you have left your review to claim your gift card! **
Do let us know your thoughts on anything you have read here or if you have any questions. We’re always keen to get your feedback.