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Mould, Green Homes Grants changes, the property market, homeownership amongst the under-45s, and more property news

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With Brexit finally done and the launch of the Covid-19 vaccine under way, news about the property market continues – with hopes cautiously raised for a better year ahead.

Who is responsible for dealing with mould in rented property?

It is a problem reported across the whole of the nation’s stock of housing, said Uswitch in a recent report, yet one that is likely to generate particular problems in the relationship between landlords and tenants.

Who is responsible for dealing with the unsightly and potentially health-harming problem of mould in rented property – the landlord or the tenant?

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of tenants believe that the landlord alone is entirely responsible for dealing with and fixing problems involving mould. That is indeed the case if the problem threatens to compromise the tenant’s health. The landlord, of course, also remains responsible for maintaining the problem in such a way that mould is kept at bay – by preventing the damp from getting in in the first place and for adequately insulating the property.

But tenants’ too, bear their own share of ongoing responsibility. They must keep the property clean and ensure that it is kept ventilated (if only by opening a window or two) in order to prevent mould from taking hold. The article shares further tips for tenants on preventing mould.

NRLA welcomes changes to Green Homes Grants

In a press release this week, the National Residential Landlords’ Association (NRLA) welcomed the government’s recent amendments to rolling out its Green Homes Grants Scheme.

As we reported in our news round-up on the 23rd of November, the grants scheme for energy-efficiency home improvements got off to a particularly slow start simply because of the shortage of suitably qualified contractors to carry out the necessary works. By the time of our report, only 1,100 installers of qualifying home improvements had applied for the necessary approval.

The government has now addressed that logjam by removing the need for installers and contractors to be formally accredited – although any works carried out under the grants scheme must continue to meet prescribed standards.

The property market during this next lockdown

As the country enters what is effectively a second national lockdown, there is one crucial difference in the restrictions issued the first time around. This time, the property market remains open, with viewings and surveys still able to go ahead, reported Property Wire on the 6th of January.

The Daily Mail also commented on the freedoms granted to the property market and reminded its readers that they can pursue the whole process of moving home even during lockdown - from face-to-face viewings of homes they are interested in buying, to visits by valuers and removal men, and a final moving in day.

Both sources also echo the caution urged by property market specialists on the continued need for social distancing and the adoption of common-sense measures when viewing properties still occupied by their owners or tenants.

Sensible precautions, for example, include leaving your viewing of a property you want to buy or rent as a final step, after first making a virtual tour of the place, and before deciding whether or not to proceed.

Although the property market remains open, some estate agents, cited by Property Wire, argue that agents, valuers, surveyors, and removal companies, are still likely to have their businesses disrupted during the lockdown. As a way of easing those financial challenges, they are asking the Chancellor to extend the expiry date of the present Stamp Duty holiday from its current deadline at the end of March.

Homeownership rate falls among the under-45s

There has been a significant drop in the number of homeowners under the age of 45, reported listings website Zoopla on the 4th of January. Just ten years ago, 67% of those aged 35 to 44 were homeowners. That proportion has now fallen to 56%.

Zoopla also reports that younger age groups were even less likely to own a property. Just 41% of those aged between 25 and 34 are living in their own home

Despite government attempts to help young first-time buyers, getting that first step on the housing ladder has been made more difficult by steadily rising house prices, more stringent affordability criteria demanded by mortgage lenders, and the current shortage of higher loan to value (LTV) mortgages for those unable to save large deposits.

Licensing expires for 15,000 homes in a London borough

The future of licences for some 15,000 rented properties in the London borough of Southwark remains uncertain following the expiry of the current licences on the 31st of December, writes Landlord Today on the 5th of January.

A new licensing scheme for the properties – including all the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – in the borough was approved by the council last spring. The lockdown necessitated by the pandemic, however, put paid to the consultation process them required by law.

With such a long-delayed consultation process, any new scheme is unlikely to be approved for implementation until at least the middle of this year.