The holiday season seems to have done little to stifle UK property news headlines, with stories across the board for both homeowners and landlords.
Let’s take a closer look at just a few of those stories.
Student housing under threat from rental reforms
Proposed reforms to the rental market threaten to throw the availability of housing for students into chaos warned the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) in a press release on the 21st of December.
The story pointed out that reforms included in the official Rental Reform White Paper would make it obligatory for all student housing – except for that in purpose-built blocks – to be granted by way of open-ended tenancies.
Unless sitting tenants had already given notice to quit the accommodation at the end of any one term, therefore, a landlord would be uncertain whether it would be available to new, incoming students at the start of the new term.
That uncertainty would not only present difficulties for landlords in managing their let property but would also deprive students of their freedom in choosing where they will live during term time – and with whom.
Banks to lend to those in cladding trap
Six of the principal high street banks have reversed a previous ban and will now once again offer loans for the purchase of high-rise flats in blocks with potentially dangerous cladding.
Reporting the decision by the banks in its story on the 21st of December, the Daily Mail noted that the reversal takes effect from the 9th of January and will come as welcome news to the hundreds of thousands of flat owners – and prospective buyers – who will again be able to raise the funds for buying their home in a medium- to high-rise block of flats.
Loosening of the previously strict constraints by lenders on dwellings in blocks taller than 36 feet (11 metres) comes after new guidance was published by the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Landlord’s petition to reverse law change
Despite the process that began in 2017 to remove the concession, landlords are once again calling for the return of an income tax allowance on buy to let mortgage interest payments according to a story in Landlord Today on the 23rd of December.
All mortgage interest tax relief for landlords finally ended in the tax year beginning in 2020 and, since then, they have had to pay income tax on the whole of their rental income (combined with any further income from other sources). They have been left just with the basic rate allowance of a flat 20% for the costs of any finance associated with their buy to let business.
In a petition to Parliament, landlords make a plea for the reinstatement of the tax allowance to save their ailing buy to let businesses by allowing their investments in rental property to become profitable. Without that relief, warn the landlords, they may be forced to sell the property – which is then removed from the stock of available rental properties.
UK's 20 most expensive cities to buy a house
A story in the Mirror newspaper on the 22nd of December identified the UK’s 20 most expensive cities to buy a home. In ascending order of values, the twenty are:
- Glasgow – where the average price of a home is £140,200;
- Aberdeen – £142,100;
- Newcastle – £147,200;
- Liverpool – £152,300;
- Belfast – £167,300;
- Sheffield – £169,100;
- Nottingham – £196,900;
- Birmingham – £202,400;
- Leeds – £205,600;
- Manchester – £215,700;
- Leicester – £223,800;
- Cardiff – £253,400;
- Southampton – £260,500;
- Edinburgh – £263,600;
- Portsmouth – £282,900;
- Bristol – £333,000;
- Bournemouth – £344,900;
- Oxford – £450,000;
- Cambridge – £465,700; and
- London – where the average price of a home is now £524,400
Dormant brownfield sites could make room for a million homes
In a story on the 22nd of December, Property Week revealed claims by the Council for the Protection of Rural England – the countryside charity now known as the CPRE – that unused brownfield sites across the UK could be developed for the production of as many as 1.2 million new homes.
23,000 such brownfield sites – covering an area of some 27,000 hectares of land – currently lie dormant and are either awaiting the necessary planning permission or for building work to start. According to the CPRE, 45% of the brownfield sites have already been granted planning permission but development has still not begun on the 550,000 whose building has already been approved.
The majority of brownfield sites – areas of previously developed land now fallen into disuse – can be found in the industrial heartlands of the country and failure to develop it is a critical loss to government ambitions for “levelling up”.