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Fee-free pets, record house prices, duration of the Stamp Duty holiday, landlord-tenant disputes settled, and rent levels outside London

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This week’s property news headlines shone the light on both homeownership and the private rented sector as buoyant market conditions continued to shape the overall trend.

With rising house prices, there was largely good news for both homeowners and landlords, while tenants can look forward to a future accompanied by their pets and smoother solution of any disputes with their landlord.

Government says ‘No’ to separate fees for pets in rented properties

Tenants will be relieved to know that the Tenants Fees Act – which came into effect in June 2019 – will also apply to landlords who have granted their tenants the right to keep a pet in their rented accommodation, according to Landlord Today on the 8th of September.

In response to a formal written question to Parliament, the government confirmed that landlords will not be able to charge tenants any fees for granting permission to keep a pet – by increasing the deposit held against damage and breakages, for example, or to cover the cost of additional insurance premiums.

As we reported on the 1st of September, the freedom to own a pet is currently one of tenants’ top priorities – with the demand having grown by some 120% during the past year.

Average UK house prices hit record high in August

Yet another record for average UK house prices was broken during August, reported much of the media, including the Cumberland News & Star on the 7th of September.

Sales during the month took the average price to an all-time high of £262,954, according to the Halifax building society, with the typical dwelling currently some £23,600 more expensive than in June 2020 when the housing market started its re-emergence from the intial Covid-19 lockdowns.

In the year to August, the biggest growth in house prices was in Wales, where the increase reached 11.6%. This was followed by the Southwest of England, where prices rose an average of 9.6% - in an area attractive for those in search of a more rural lifestyle that was also close to the sea.

Other regions recording strong growth in prices included Northern Ireland (9.3%), Scotland (8.4%), and the Northeast of England (8%).

RICS: Shock call that stamp duty holiday should have been shorter

Although it initially supported the Stamp Duty holiday that began in July 2020, tailed off at the end of June 2021, and scheduled to end at the end of September, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has voiced its dissent from much of the market in a statement criticising the duration of the tax-break.

In a story on the 9th of September, Estate Agent Today reported that RICS is now saying that the Stamp Duty holiday should have remained a short-term response to the immediate problems of the housing market’s re-emergence from lockdown and ought to have ended as originally envisaged at the end of March 2021.

The result has been house price inflation as demand continues to outstrip supply in the current housing market.

More landlords and tenants try to settle disputes without arbitration

More landlords and tenants are now looking to resolve independently any disputes they have rather than calling on the mediation and arbitration procedures offered by tenants’ deposit holding companies.

An article by Landlord Today on the 8th of September revealed that landlords and tenants preferred an informal method of resolving disputes independently since it avoided the delay and uncertainty of the formal process – itself a source of stress.

The article cited examples from one major deposit-taker which had seen a 20% increase in the number of disputes from April until the end of June 2021. These included an 11% increase in the number of disputes that were resolved informally between landlords and tenants and a 10% reduction in disputes formally submitted for arbitration.

Rents outside London rise at fastest rate for 13 years

Excluding London, average rents in the UK have surged ahead to reach their highest levels in more than a decade, according to online listings website Zoopla on the 8th of September.

The monthly rent for a property outside of London currently stands at an average of £790 – an increase of £38 a month compared with this time last year – with tenants paying an average of around an extra £456 each calendar year.

The competition for accommodation in the private rented sector is also so keen that properties are now let practically a week faster than they were 12 months ago. Rent levels outside London are climbing faster than at any time since 2008 as more tenants return to provincial cities and towns for employment.