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Pet-friendly cities, Right to Rent, EPCs, property transaction statistics, and other property news

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News headlines during the past week illustrate a continued return to normality in both the private rental sector and the property market more generally.

There are new trends for landlords to keep track of, while an unusually high volume of property transactions has left some homebuyers in a limbo between starting the process and completing their purchase.

The most pet-friendly cities for renters

Tenants who want to keep a pet in their let property have been encouraged by moves by some developers and by the government to make that easier. During the recent round of pandemic lockdowns, of course, owning a pet provided much-needed companionship and comfort.

A timely report in the Daily Mail newspaper identified those places in the UK where pet ownership by tenants already seems to have become well established.

The survey revealed the most pet-friendly cities by calculating the percentage of tenancies where keeping a pet is already allowed:

  • first place went to Glasgow, in Scotland, where 50.2% of let properties currently allow tenants to keep a pet;
  • maintaining that record for Scotland, Edinburgh is in second place with 49.7% of let properties already pet-friendly;
  • in third place, and the first of the English cities to display a friendliness towards tenants with pets is the Cambridge;
  • at the other end of the scale, though, cities such as Coventry and Sheffield have just 14.5% and 12.7% respectively of rental homes available for pet-owning tenants.

New extension to emergency right to rent measures

During the lockdowns and social distancing of the coronavirus pandemic, the government relaxed the rules requiring landlords to actively investigate the immigration of prospective tenants and their Right to Rent.

In a press release on the 18th of June, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) advised that the current rules – which reduce the need for face to face contact while landlords are investigating tenants’ Right to Rent – will be extended until the end of August.

Landlords have been required to carry out Right to Rent checks since the introduction of the relevant legislation in February 2016. Since they represent a further administrative burden on the role of the private sector landlord, these checks have been by no means universally welcomed.

Another mortgage lender urges landlords to improve buy to let EPCs

Some mortgage lenders are lending their weight to government efforts to improve the energy efficiency of Britain’s housing stock.

According to a story by Landlord Today on the 23rd of June, the latest mortgage company, Landbay, has extended those incentives to landlords of buy to let property by offering mortgage rate discounts if the let property has been awarded a “good” Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

The higher the EPC, the greater the discount. 5-year fixed-rate buy to let mortgages for properties with either an A or B EPC rating, for instance, will qualify for a 0.1% discount on the rate of mortgage interest; 5-year fixed-rate mortgages on properties with a C rating will qualify for a discount of 0.05%.

HMRC releases latest monthly property transactions

The latest statistics released by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) suggest that the tidal wave of property transactions witnessed towards the end of the first quarter of this year may finally be subsiding. Yet the volume of sales remains much higher than it was at the same time last year.

Reporting these latest figures, Property Wire on the 23rd of June revealed that the volume of residential transactions fell by 3.9% between the months of April and May.

In its release of the figures, HMRC noted that transaction volumes have been boosted by the Stamp Duty holiday which was introduced by the Chancellor last July and is now scheduled to end at the end of June – but with an extension at reduced rates until the end of September.

Despite the recent drop off in the number of transactions, the volume is still much higher – by 138.2% – than May last year.

Homebuyers stuck in limbo for over five months

These unprecedented levels of property transactions have left some buyers in limbo between starting their property purchase and its completion.

According to a story in Property Reporter on the 23rd of June, some buyers have been waiting for more than five months waiting for the backlog of pending transactions to clear so that their purchase can proceed to completion.

Currently, it takes an average of any residential property to take 274 days from the time it is advertised for sale until any purchase is completed. 118 of those 274 days are taken up with advertising the home and finding a buyer. The remaining 156 days – more than five and a half months – are devoted from the time the offer is made, through the conveyancing process, until the transaction is complete.