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Growing towns, overseas homes, mortgage affordability rules, a banned landlord and other UK property news

Devon Ice Cream 2021 09 28 21 19 44 Utc

Recent UK property news casts a spotlight both home and away with homes in this country and abroad while the Bank of England looks set to relax the current rules on mortgage affordability tests.

In the private rented sector, it is sad to see that the occasional rogue landlord continues to slip through the net. Here we review some of the latest news headlines …

Britain's fastest GROWING towns

In the quest to meet the demand for new housing, Britain’s towns are growing – in some cases very quickly, according to a story in the Daily Mail newspaper on the 25th of December.

In areas of South Derbyshire, for example, recent developments have meant that 7.3% of the housing stock there is new – that is to say, homes that have been built since 2017.

Salford, in the northwest of England, counts 6.9% of its total housing stock as new, while the proportion of new homes in Oxfordshire’s Vale of the White Horse currently stands almost the same at 6.8%.

Whilst these inland, often semi-rural areas continue to grow apace, many seaside councils – such as those in Brighton and Portsmouth – have, surprisingly, recorded relatively fewer new-build housing developments.

The seaside town most sought-after for a second home

Whilst covid lockdowns have boosted the appeal of staycations, the southwest of England has long been a favourite for the owners of second homes.

Of all the potential locations for a holiday home, the coastal town of Salcombe, in Devon, has racked up the highest volume of searches by those looking to buy a second home in the southwest, according to a story in My London on the 29th of December.

The town at the mouth of the Kingsbridge Estuary is often referred to as the “English Riviera”.

Since April last year, Salcombe has featured in almost 20,000 searches by those looking to invest in a holiday home – more than 7,000 hits than neighbouring Falmouth in Cornwall (the second-favourite location for a second home) and third-placed North Berwick in East Lothian.

The most viewed overseas homes of 2021

Despite successive lockdowns and restricted travel opportunities, the interest has not been restricted to second homes for staycations. Some iconic overseas properties have also featured in internet searches, insists the online listings website Rightmove in a recent posting.

Over the past 12 months, the properties that attracted the highest volume of searches are likely to appeal only to the most well-heeled of buyers. They include a €70 million luxury escape in Cannes, the Mediterranean playground of the rich and famous, and an architect-designed townhouse in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, New York, for $50 million.

Bank of England reveals plan to relax mortgage affordability rules

The Bank of England is considering a relaxation of the stress test rules on the affordability of residential mortgages, according to a report by online listings website Zoopla on the 17th of December.

To make it easier for first-time buyers to qualify for a mortgage, the Bank wants to abandon the current requirement for borrowers to pass a test that anticipates the likely affordability of mortgage repayments following an increase in interest rates. Currently, prospective borrowers have to demonstrate that they could continue to repay a mortgage in the event of their lender’s standard variable rate increasing by a further 3%.

The current affordability rules were put in place in 2014 in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, when interest rates were forecast to rise to 2.25% and borrowers were generally expected to borrow no more than 4.5 times their income.

With the interest base rate currently at 0.25% and any forthcoming increase likely to remain fairly modest, the Bank of England has taken the view that mortgage affordability rules can be relaxed somewhat.

Landlord who ‘risked lives’ through safety failings gets Banning Order

When rogue landlords run their let property with utter disregard for the health and safety of their tenants, the ultimate sanction available to a local authority is a Banning Order – preventing the culprit from letting a property, managing one, or having anything to do with a buy to let business for a prescribed period of time.

This is precisely the action taken by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council in proceedings against a landlord in Hatfield, who risked the lives of tenants through the safety failings in his property, related Landlord Today on the 30th of December.

The landlord concerned was handed a two-year ban on letting, managing, or having anything to do with let property – the first time any such measure has been taken in this part of the country. The court also imposed a record fine of £90,000.