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New How to Rent guide, moving home advice, and property in London’s Olympic boroughs

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Whether it’s the latest advice for landlords and their tenants or property news about the continuing surge in house prices and property transactions more generally, the headlines continue to reflect an especially buoyant and active market.

Here is our take on those headlines that caught our eye.

New 'easy to read' How to Rent guide released by Government

The government has released a new, “easy to read” version of its How to Rent guide for tenants. This simpler, slimmer version is intended more as a supplement to the principal guide, however, and landlords are still required to furnish every tenant with the latest edition of the latter, explained the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) on the 23rd of July.

Landlords are required to give a copy of the How to Rent guide to every new tenant. The latest version of the guide must be handed to tenants at the beginning of any tenant and to every existing tenant renewing a tenancy if the guide has been updated since they first moved in.

How much have asking prices risen?

One year on from the first lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic and house hunters have shown their desire for altered lifestyles in an unprecedented level of demand for homes.

Runaway demand and a limited stock of homes for sale have inevitably forced prices higher and higher in recent months. So much so, reported online listings website Rightmove on the 21st of July that the average asking price for a home now stands at a record high of £338,447.

This reflects an increase in the average asking price of £21,389 since the beginning of this year alone – a rise of 6.7%.

Rightmove adds that the monthly increase in average asking prices during July was the biggest since the same period in 2007.

Updated moving home advice

Although the government has announced the final Step 4 in its roadmap out of Covid restrictions, it is equally keen to stress that the country is not yet entirely out of the woods.

That sense of cautious optimism is reflected in the latest official advice – published on the 22nd of July – aimed at those involved in the marketing, buying and selling of residential property and for those eventually moving home.

In short, the guidance says that while many of the legal restrictions have now been lifted, care and caution should continue to be adopted by anyone involved in the property market.

What it means:

  • for estate agents, conveyancers, and other professionals involved in property transactions, previous advice about working from home is now lifted but they should still encourage virtual viewings of homes for sale, ask the current residents to vacate the property during such viewings, and arrange for it to be thoroughly cleaned before the next viewing and before any new owners move in;
  • letting agents and landlords should follow similar precautions and also take note of the current advice regarding repossession proceedings, access to the property for repairs and maintenance, and health and safety concerns;
  • agents, landlords, sellers, buyers, and potential tenants may all be asked to wear face masks during viewings – as a matter of courtesy rather than a rigid requirement;
  • if any of those involved in a property transaction suffer symptoms of Covid, they should get tested and continue to self-isolate – while continuing with business remotely if that is possible.

Second homeowners in Wales 'discriminated against'

Problems arising from the volume of second home ownership in Wales have been thrown into stark relief during the coronavirus pandemic, reported the BBC on the 21st of July.

In some parts of Wales, second and holiday homes account for a significant proportion of all housing. In the county of Gwynedd, in North Wales, for example, one in ten of all properties are second homes.

With the Welsh government now promising action to address what it considers to be a housing crisis, many owners of holiday and second homes feel they are being “discriminated against”, saying the issue is "complicated" and wanted to be consulted more.

Calls have also been made for councils to halt tax increases on second homes.

Properties in UK Olympic boroughs more likely to increase in value

As the Olympic Games in Tokyo progress, a notable legacy of the Olympic Games held in London in 2012 is the increased value of housing in neighbouring boroughs, revealed an article in Property Investor Today on the 26th of July.

House prices across London as a whole benefitted when the capital hosted the Games – since August 2012, house prices in London have risen by an average of 5.6% every year or a total of 61% to date.

In the six boroughs that played host to Olympic events, however, prices have grown by an average of 6.9% each year – 1.3% more than the average for the city as a whole. Since 2012, average house prices in these boroughs have increased by a total of 78% – or 17% more than the average for the capital in general.