Here is this week’s round up of some of the latest UK property news …
Landlords urged to comply with electrical safety regulation or risk fines
Time is running out on the deadline given to landlords in the private rented sector in England to comply with the new electrical safety regulations which came into effect on the 1st of June 2020. Landlords were given until the beginning of April this year – now only weeks away – to fully comply with the new regulations.
In a press release on the 18th of February, Property Wire reminded landlords that their failure to meet this deadline could result in fines of up to £30,000 for each breach. Once this year’s deadline has been met, landlords must then arrange subsequent electrical safety checks at least once every five years.
For many landlords, meeting this deadline could well prove a challenge. According to Property Wire’s investigations, half of all letting agents canvassed in one survey last September reported that they had on their books 60 or more properties that would require an electrical safety check before this April’s deadline.
Property hotspot where homes cost £200,000 less than UK average
Even though house prices across the country as a whole are steadily on the rise, there are some hotspots where, despite notably high increases, prices remain as much as £200,000 lower than the national average.
In a story published by the Mirror newspaper on the 22nd of February, it was revealed that house prices in Paisley – a suburb of Glasgow – rose by a whopping 15% in 2020. Little wonder that this was the fastest rate of growth recorded anywhere in the UK.
More of a surprise, though, is that even an increase of 15% took the average price of a home in Paisley to just £126,903 – almost £200,000 lower than the national average of £318,580 according to the data used by the newspaper’s sources.
The list of similar hotspots includes Lancaster and Wigan – in second and third places respectively – where the average price of a home rose by 12%. Yet the average asking price of a home in Lancaster is still only £197,790 and in Wigan it is £175,202.
UK house prices climbed 8.5% in 2020
Citing figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the BBC reported that the year 2020 saw the highest rate of growth in house prices since 2014.
Prices increased by some 8.5% during the year as a whole, taking the current average price to a record high of £252,000 by the end of the year.
The noticeable spurt in price increases in the final part of 2020 is attributed in large part to the Stamp Duty tax holiday – which was introduced last July and will end at the end of March. The release of pent-up demand after the lifting of the more severe pandemic restrictions also helped to boost prices.
The report noted that there continues to be significant regional variation in the rates of increases in house prices across the country. Prices in the Northwest of England, for example, climbed by 11.2%, while those in London registered only a 3.5% increase.
The steepest increases, according to the statistics, have been enjoyed in the Northwest of England, followed by Wales, the East Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber.
Help to Buy extended amid delays caused by Covid-19
Prospective homeowners hoping to take advantage of the Help to Buy scheme in England have been thrown something of a lifeline thanks to the recent extension of the programme for a further two months.
In a recent article Forbes magazine revealed that the Help to Buy scheme is being extended from its originally scheduled end-date of the 31st of March until the 31st of May.
The extended time limit for equity loans provided by the Help to Buy scheme may enable up to an additional 16,000 homebuyers get onto the housing ladder. The loans are available for newly-built homes valued at up to a maximum of £600,000.
An end to the Stamp Duty holiday looms – but don’t rush the legal paperwork
A story in the Express newspaper this week warned about the dangers of rushing to beat the deadline on the removal of the current Stamp Duty tax holiday at the end of March.
In their haste to complete the transaction before the end of the tax holiday deprives them of potential savings of up to £15,000, some homebuyers are rushing through the legal checks and balances typically associated with buying a house.
Buyers need to make sure that all the necessary permissions and approvals (from local authority planning departments or building regulations, for example) were sought before any alterations, extensions and modifications had been made to the property. In the absence of the legal checks that the necessary permissions were granted, buyers may be liable for securing retrospective approval or may even need to carry out remedial works and reinstatement.