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Laws not fit for purpose, favourite home improvements, tomorrow’s homes and other property news

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Startling headlines reveal landlords’ concerns that the laws governing their buy to let businesses are probably “not fit for purpose”, the rundown on some of the favourite improvements chosen by homeowners, the ins and outs of the recent Stamp Duty holiday, house price movements, and a glimpse at the homes of tomorrow – the last few weeks have brought more than its fair share of engrossing property news.

Rented housing laws "not fit for purpose" argue landlords

The National Residential Landlords’ Association (NRLA) was nothing if not critical of the body of laws and regulations currently governing business in the private rented sector – those rented housing laws are simply “not fit for purpose”, insisted the NRLA on the 2nd of July.

Warning of an apparent over-regulation of the private rented sector, the NRLA cited research to show that, during the past 10 years alone, the volume of legislation directly relevant to landlords and their tenants has increased by some 40% - with no fewer than 168 separate pieces of additional legislation.

Some of the legislation still on the statute books – such as the Landlord and Tenant Act 1730 and the Distress for Rent Act 1737 – are literally centuries old.

Over-regulation to this extent becomes self-defeating, insists the NRLA, whose studies have revealed that 89% of all local authorities reported issuing no civil penalties against private landlords during 2017 and 2018, while more than 50% admitted they had no civil penalty policy in place for the enforcement of many rented housing laws and regulations.

The most popular home improvements in the UK

Successive lockdowns during the recent pandemic have encouraged many homeowners to find better ways of making use of the space in their homes through improvements of one kind or another. The money they saved while being unable to spend money on holidays, eating out, or entertainment could be spent on home improvements.

An article by online listings site Zoopla on the 24th of June identified some of the most popular – and declining - choices:

  • extensions – 81.7% of all planning applications during 2020 involved the building of an extension;
  • garages – after an extension to the home, the next most popular improvement was to build a garage or to convert an existing garage into other use (such as a home office);
  • loft conversions – these were most popular in London and the south east of England, where they accounted for almost 20% of planning applications;
  • conservatories and outbuildings – in the southwest of England and Wales, many homeowners (especially retirees) invested in a conservatory or building in the garden; and
  • basements – what was once a popular home improvement in London - have become far less sought-after in the past year or so.

Stamp duty holiday: How much do I have to pay now?

After a year’s tax holiday – that was, of course, very welcome for homebuyers – the 1st of July saw the reintroduction of Stamp Duty now payable on purchases of homes valued at more than £250,000.

A piece by the BBC on the 1st of July reminded property-hunters that homes bought for more than £250,000 but less than £925,000 will attract the restored tax at a rate of 5%; from £925,001 to £1,500,000 10%, and above £1,500,000 12%.

But the holidays are not entirely over yet. It is not until the end of September, that Stamp Duty reverts to its rates: that is to say, 2% on properties purchased for between £125,000 and £250,000; 5% for those £250,000 to £950,000; 10% from £950,000 to £1,500,000; and 12% for homes costing more than £1,500,000.

Why do asking prices keep rising?

Even with the country having been in the throes of a deadly pandemic, house prices have been on a relentless upward trend.

A story by online listings website Rightmove on the 28th of June reported a third straight month when house prices achieved a record high – with the current average across the whole of the UK now standing at £336,073.

The reason for that increase is nothing more complicated than simple supply and demand. Prices continue to rise because demand continues to outstrip supply, explains Rightmove.

Buyers are especially keen on larger properties with greater living space and opportunities for working from home, with rural and coastal locations in particular demand – a demand that has been further encouraged by the Stamp Duty holiday and by the availability of low-interest mortgages.

Smart tech: how homes will look in 50 years’ time

An article in Property Investor Today on the 2nd of July offered a glimpse of the type of homes in which we might be living 50 years from now.

Sustainability is likely to be high on the agenda – with the government already committed to slashing carbon emissions and the announcement of a ban on the sale of gas boilers from the year 2025. Domestic energy consumption is likely to become still more efficiently managed through the installation of centralised systems regulating electricity use, heating, and air conditioning.

Greater use of solar energy might be achieved by replacing roof tiles with the necessary panels.

Homes are likely to become more secure than ever – with an increasing number of them even having their own panic rooms.