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House auctions attract record numbers, demands for rent controls, house price predictions, EU holiday homes post-Brexit and other UK property news

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UK property news headlines have reflected a fairly mixed-bag of stories – exposing yet another rogue landlord, noting an unexpected rise in house sales at auction, likely movements in house prices, the demands of certain housing activists, and the post-Brexit impact on staying in your European holiday home.

Let’s put some more detail on the stories behind those headlines.

£60k bill for landlord who harassed tenants and left them to sleep next to rodent droppings

Another rogue landlord has been exposed and fined by his local council for harassing tenants and leaving them to sleep in squalor next to rodent droppings, in court proceedings reported by My London on the 22nd of February.

Stratford Magistrates Court in East London heard about 10 violations of housing regulations that came to light when the tenants complained about the landlord abruptly removing the gas meter which left the let property without hot water or heating. When the council’s housing officers went to investigate that complaint, they discovered that the property was not only unlicensed but was also infested by rodents.

The landlord of the unlicensed HMO was fined a total of £45,000 and further ordered to pay the council’s costs of £14,404.08.

Record numbers bidding at latest Auction House London sale

Auction sales of homes in London have enjoyed a recent surge, according to a story by Property Reporter on the 23rd of February – highlighting a demand for property that has yet to be modernised and refurbished.

Taking advantage of the ability to conduct bidding and sales entirely online, one auction house registered a record 1,339 active participants as 90% of the offered lots went to livestream sales and raised total proceeds of £24,866,699.

Recent sales seem to have attracted special interest in homes that have yet to be modernised. A 3-bedroom semi-detached home in need of refurbishment in Hounslow, Middlesex, for example, had a guide list price of £275,000 but, in the event, sold for £488,500. A maisonette in Catford, South London, had a guide price of £150,000 but fetched £281,000 at auction.

Activists want controls on rents, house prices, planning consents

Groups of Welsh nationalists are turning up the heat against incomers who are buying into the housing market in the Principality and depriving locals of a chance of finding affordable housing, reported Landlord Today on the 23rd of February.

The language activists are demanding the Welsh Parliament enact legislation to achieve “fair rental rates” that are not determined by unfettered market forces. So that local people can be given priority when it comes to housing, the campaigners are making the case for rent controls, restrictions on house prices, and a complete review of residential planning legislation.

Property market ‘turned on its head’ with price rises expected to continue for ‘months’

Not only have recent months seen successive records broken, but the relentless rise of house prices is expected to continue unabated for many months to come, according to market commentators quoted by the Express newspaper on the 22nd of February.

Overall, the housing market is described as having “turned on its head” as many homeowners currently look forward to a £100,000 gain if and when they move house.

In February alone, the average house price increased by £7,785 to hit yet another new record of £348,804. Since the beginning of the recent pandemic – just two years ago – average house prices have shot up by more than £40,000.

Because of the continuing imbalance between supply and demand – demand far outstrips the supply of homes for sale – prices will continue to soar, concludes the article.

Post-Brexit holiday homes: how you can stay longer than 90 days in the EU

One of the side-effects of Brexit has been restrictions on the length of stay permitted by UK owners of holiday homes in various parts of the European Union.

But there are ways you can legally secure the right to stay longer. And the online listings website Rightmove on the 22nd of February sets out the extended-stay visas that might be available from the immigration authorities of some of the countries concerned:

  • France – a “visa de long séjour”, available from the relevant French Consulate grants you a right to stay of between three and 12 months;
  • Portugal – there are various categories of visas available for extended stays. Temporary stay visas last for up to a year, those for retirees may last for up to 10 years, the Immigrant Entrepreneur Visa grants indefinite stay for those setting up a business, and the Golden Visa is valid for the first five years after which holders can apply for Portuguese citizenship;
  • Spain – the so-called “Non-Lucrative Visa” may be ideal for retirees and is valid for an initial year, renewable every two years, and may be converted to permanent residency after 5 years;
  • Greece – provided you buy a property for at least €250,000 you may be granted a five-year residency;
  • Italy – so-called Investor Visas, valid for an initial two years and renewable for a further three years, are available to those who invest between €250,000 and €500,000 in an approved national project.

If you have your heart set on staying longer than a token 90 days or so, therefore, there are potentially alternative ways of extending your residency in the EU.