UK property news headlines of course refer to the underlying pressures on the housing market. But there are also stories about how long you might expect to get your money back on “greening” your home and on the ongoing problem of tackling anti-social tenants.
Let’s take a quick look behind some of those headlines.
It takes 17 years for green home improvements to pay for themselves
A story in the Daily Mail on the 14th of December took a closer look at the cost-benefits of domestic energy-saving improvements to make a home “greener.
The story was inspired by an experiment undertaken by NatWest bank to investigate the economies that can be achieved through investing in green home improvements. The experiment involved the bank granting loans to a sample of owner-occupied homes for measures such as comprehensive insulation, smart heating programs, and double-glazing.
Homeowners invested an average of £21,171 on green improvements and discovered that these resulted in the saving of £1,208 a year in energy bills by each of the households. While these are significant savings, the experiment also revealed that, at this rate, it would take an average of 17½ years for a homeowner to recoup the expenditure on energy-saving improvements.
Rightmove: dips in the housing market will be highly localised
A story in Landlord Today on the 14th of December was more circumspect than many other analysts in forecasting the rate of any decline in house prices in the year ahead.
Citing forecasts by the online listings website Rightmove, the story envisaged a fall of just 2% in average house prices across the whole of the country but added that variations in market performance could vary very widely from one location to another. The highly localised variation in prices, for instance, could see significant differences in a slump in prices from one side of town to another.
As transactions in the property market become dogged by the pressures of affordability, house sales could take longer to conclude – with a return to the average time between advertising for sale and the conclusion of the transaction to around the more “normal” 60 days.
NRLA calls for action to tackle anti-social tenants
In a press release on the 13th of December, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) bemoaned the apparent failures of local councils and the police to tackle anti-social behaviour by some tenants in the private rented sector.
Research has shown that anti-social behaviour on the part of tenants is the reason given by as many as half of all landlords who sought repossession of their property at some stage in their buy-to-let career.
A recent survey revealed that:
84% of landlords said they had received no help at all from their local council in tackling problems of anti-social behaviour by tenants;
75% of those surveyed said that they had received no support or assistance from the police;
67% encountered difficulties in gathering suitable evidence from neighbours or co-tenants about anti-social behaviour on the part of the few.
The NRLA is calling for greater attention to the problems of anti-social tenants, especially in the run-up to the abolition of Section 21 of the current Housing Act and its so-called “no-fault” evictions.
Mortgage lenders promise greater flexibility to help borrowers in financial difficulties
A headline by the online listings website Zoopla on the 12th of December highlighted efforts by mortgage lenders to help borrowers who are struggling with their monthly repayments.
According to the article, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the mortgage lending industry have agreed that borrowers who are struggling in the face of the current rise in the cost of living need the help of greater flexibility in making their repayments.
Lenders have agreed to tailor responses to individual cases where the immediate difficulties may be resolved through extensions of the mortgage term or a reduction in the required monthly repayments.
Those borrowers who keep up to date with their monthly repayments will also be able to switch to new mortgage terms without the need for a further test of the borrowing’s affordability.
Mortgages: What happens if I miss a payment?
With mortgage rates currently at their highest for the past 14 years, the BBC on the 8th of December offered advice to mortgage borrowers who are in danger of missing a required monthly repayment.
The article explained that you are officially designated in arrears with your mortgage when you have missed two or more repayments (or their equivalent value).
In that event, you must let your lender know as soon as possible that you are experiencing financial difficulties. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) insists that your lender makes every effort to reach an agreement with you for managing that debt and treat you fairly.
Your lender must list those payments you have missed, inform you of the total value of those missed payments, inform you of the outstanding balance on your mortgage, and let you know whether any changes have been made to your mortgage term.