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Cowboy builders, know your tenants, live longer in Kent, Devon’s “housing crisis”, and the housing market in 2022

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A genuinely mixed-bag of UK property news emerges from the recent headlines – from worries about botched work by cowboy builders, living a longer life in Kent and the housing crisis developing in Devon.

Since the stories are nicely rounded off by a prediction on the state of the housing market in the coming year, let’s take a closer look.

A third of homeowners put off renovating due to fear of botched jobs

One in three homeowners is put off any idea of renovating their property through fear of the job being botched by cowboy builders – something that has already happened to an estimated 13% of owners in the past 12 months – according to a story in the Daily Mail on the 4th of December.

The newspaper went on to suggest ways of sorting the sheep from the goats – or, in this case, reliable and competent builders from the rogues:

  • the story cites the Federation of Master Builders which encourages homeowners to seek out personal recommendations for particular builders, discuss the job with other tradesmen, and always insist on a contract of work;
  • be prepared to wait while reputable builders prepare their quotes for the requested work – and shun those who claim to be available immediately;
  • a range of websites can help you narrow down the choice – MyBuilder and Rated People, for example, let you post your project and invite potential builders to submit their quotes to you while Checkatrade and TrustATrader list tradesmen in your area, together with reviews from recent customers.

In addition to these precautions, homeowners might also want to single out those builders with particular credentials and membership of the relevant professional or trades body.

Calls to give landlords better due diligence on future tenants

Improved “due diligence” on the type of tenants to whom landlords grant tenancies would be a better solution than the proposed repeal of Section 21 of the Housing Act, argues an article in Landlord Today on the 3rd of December.

Section 21, of course, is the so-called “no-fault” route to eviction that has been available to landlords but which the government proposes to abolish in the proposed Renter’s Reform Bill.

The article in Landlord Today argues the case for retaining Section 21 – because of the rights it gives landlords to evict irresponsible tenants and to repossess their property – and the concentration on better due diligence in spotting in advance which tenants are likely to prove irresponsible, unreliable, or outright fraudulent.

Want to live longer? Then move to Detling in Kent

If online listings website Rightmove is to be believed a move to Detling, near Maidstone, in Kent, could be the answer to a longer life.

It has become one of the most sought-after addresses in the UK since Public Health England revealed that inhabitants of the area have the highest life expectancy anywhere in the UK.

Whereas the national life expectancy for females is 83, the womenfolk of Detling live until an average of 95. Where the national average for men is 80, in Detling men live an average of six years longer until they are 86.

Council leader declares 'housing crisis' in Devon

Second-home ownership, escalating house prices, and a shortage of affordable rental accommodation have created a housing crisis in Devon, reported the BBC on the 3rd of December.

In a move supported by all parties across the political spectrum, Devon County Council has resolved to form a strategic housing task force to address the problems and challenges of a housing market that has been “distorted immeasurably” in the words of one Council-member.

Currently included in the list of possible solutions is the Council’s financial help in providing housing for key workers in the area and a lobbying campaign aiming to persuade MPs in Westminster of the need to tighten up tax loopholes enjoyed by owners of second homes and holiday lets.

The UK housing market predictions for 2022

In a posting on the 3rd of December, the Buy Association related online listings website Rightmove’s prediction of the major trends that can be expected in the UK housing market for 2022:

  • after a year of radical change – most notably the swelling tide of working from home (wfh) and the surge in out-of-town property prices that followed – market conditions in 2022 may have stabilised somewhat;
  • nevertheless, house prices will probably continue to rise – by as much as 5% over the year or an increase of some £17,000 on the average price of a home;
  • as the number of sellers increases and more homes come onto the market, the volume of transactions is likely to be less frenzied than last year;
  • transactions will also be encouraged by the ready availability of mortgages, says Rightmove.

The housing market in London is likely to continue to be somewhat more sluggish than the rest of the country although there are marked differences between one borough and another – just as there are notable variations across the UK’s regions.