Will George get Britain building?
In the Commons at the end of November, George Osborne conjured several unexpected rabbits out of his Autumn Statement hat. His U-turn on tax credits hogged most of the headlines, but the Chancellor also had various major announcements to make regarding housing, including news of a 3% surcharge on stamp duty for buy-to-let properties and second homes from April 2016. This will hit landlords hard said critics, and could drive up the cost of rents.
The Chancellor also said he was going to tackle the “crisis in home ownership” with a £7billion pledge to deliver “the largest house building programme since the 1970s”. That means delivering 400,000 new homes by 2020.
It's very nearly 2016. Better get building.
News: Good for starters?
David Cameron has pledged to do away with planning rules that require property developers to build affordable homes for rent — an idea that aims to increase the building of homes for first-time buyers. The Conservatives know they have to deliver on the promises announced in their manifesto: namely that 200,000 starter homes will be built over the course of the next Parliament, reserved for first-time buyers under 40 and sold at 20 per cent below the market price. Mark Hayward, Managing Director of the National Association of Estate Agents, says that while this is good news, 200,000 homes “simply isn’t enough bricks and mortar to lift us out of the crisis we currently find ourselves in.”
So... will more be said about housing when George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement on 25 November, alongside the government's spending review? We'll wait and see...
News: Jeremy's building ideas.
It shouldn't really have come as a shock: the pollsters had been predicting it for ages. But when Jeremy Corbyn was named as the new leader of the Labour Party a few weeks ago, everyone looked surprised — even the man himself.
So now his policies will be scrutinised like never before. According to his website, Corbyn's housing manifesto proposes to allow councils the right and means to commission new homes, in order to meet the demand for affordable housing in their own areas. “Under my ‘Vision for Britain 2020’ Labour will promote major council-funded, desirable energy efficient building projects to provide our young people with a good start in life, to stop paying exorbitant rents and the opportunity of a home they can at least call their own,” he writes.
David Cox, managing director, Association of Residential Letting Agents, comments on legislation coming into force affecting the Private Rental Sector: “As of Thursday 1st October, it will be compulsory for landlords to have fitted smoke alarms on every floor of their property where there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. They will also be required to put a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where solid fuel is burnt.
NEWS: Rates up, finances down?
Do you believe the results of surveys and polls? After the chaos at the General Election, you'd be forgiven if you didn't. Still, one new survey, released at the end of August, showed that 78 per cent of UK households expect interest rates to rise within 12 months, which is economic food for thought. That said, the dramatic falls of the FTSE in late August — as stock markets across the US and Europe plunged due to fears of a Chinese economic slowdown — should delay any interest rate rises.
Yet another survey, from Markit, found that UK households have suffered their sharpest deterioration in finances so far this year in August. Even so, Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit, thought that the “improving economic fundamentals and gradually rising income from employment should continue to support household finances through the remainder of this year.”
In other news, the Government has now given details about how it would (controversially) force landlords to evict known illegal migrants from privately rented properties — or face jail if they don't...
In December 2014, the government launched a pilot scheme in the Midlands and Birmingham areas making landlords responsible to check that any tenants moving into a property or living in a property of theirs had a legal right to rent a property in the UK under Immigration Act 2014. In august 2015, an announcement was made that this scheme would be rolled out nationally and apply to every landlord in the country.
After many years of lobbying for smoke detectors to be a legal requirement in rented property, draft regulation has finally been released to reflect the requests of the industry in the Draft Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms Regulations 2015
NEWS: George's summer surprise
Before the general election in April, potential house buyers were taking a cautious 'wait and see' attitude and the property market stagnated as a result. Yet post-election figures show that property is back on track once again, with sales up by 4.7%. Confidence has returned, it seems.
The really big news of the last few weeks, however, has been George Osborne's summer budget. There was no ignoring it, particularly if you're a landlord (more of which below) — although property owners also got a surprise, too: from April 2017, married couples and civil partners will be able to pass on family homes worth up to £1million to children or grandchildren without being hit by inheritance tax. Just two days later, Osborne followed this up with a series of sweeping planning proposals, including automatic planning permissions for brownfield sites in order to kickstart “an urban planning revolution.”
It was a busy week for Her Majesty's Government...
NEWS: Recovery position
Are banks and building societies making it easier for people to borrow? It certainly looks that way at first glance with experts predicting a "gentle recovery" in housing market activity, based on recent news reports. Before you get too excited, it should be noted that new figures show lending rising only slightly (by 2 per cent, in fact). Still it is going in the right direction. On the other hand, even if mortgages are more readily available, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) points out that the UK is still facing an acute shortage of housing supply.
Meanwhile, important news for landlords is that after the cut off date in late June, they must now be meeting official deposit protection rules, or risk heavy fines. Are you covered?