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Rental viewings, tenancy notice, delayed home sales, and property surge in Portsmouth

uk property

From a renewed flood in rental market activity to counting the cost of home sales delayed by the recent lockdown, life is returning to some semblance of normality.

Accompanying that return, of course, is a growing volume of news – with the following representing just a tidbit or two.

Demand for rental property sees viewings hit a 10-year high

A renewed surge in demand for rental properties is evidenced by a significant increase in viewings, reported Landlord Today this week.

The increase – a 10-year high in some parts of London and the Southeast – has been at least partly fuelled by steadily falling rents in some areas. That fall, in turn, has been stimulated by the increased number of properties on the market because owners chose not to sell during the pandemic and also by the growing number of competing short-term lets now available.

In line with that trend, rents in the capital’s prime spots fell by 5.8% during the year to this July while rents in outer London fell by 5.4%.

Although viewings of property in the private rental sector have soared, the actual volume of properties let is somewhat lower than at the same time last year. The fall is largely explained by the drop in student lets (typically accounting for around a quarter of the market) because of uncertainties about face-to-face or online learning.           

New legislation for tenancy notice periods and rules

In the great majority of cases, landlords must now give tenants a minimum of six months’ notice to quit, reported Letting Agent Today, in the light of recent changes in the law.

The changes come towards the end of a period when eviction notices and proceedings have been suspended until the 20th of September. The new law extends a six-month stay on most repossession notices until March of next year.

But there are exceptions. While the majority of evictions – including those under the so-called “no-fault” Section 21 notice and those involving less than six months in arrears of rent – require at least six months’ notice, some require much less.

Evictions for the following reasons, for example, require significantly shorter periods of notice:

  • anti-social behaviour – four weeks’ notice;
  • domestic abuse – two to four weeks;
  • making a false statement – two to four weeks;
  • more than six months in rent arrears – four weeks; and
  • breaches of the immigration laws under the Right to Rent scheme – three months.

Commenting on the changes in an article on the 1st of September, Property Wire noted that landlords welcome a return to legal processes for the eviction of tenants after the 20th of September. They remain considerably less happy, however, that landlords will only be able to repossess their property if they want to live in it or sell it, for example, after at least six months’ notice.

How lockdown delayed home sales

New research has shown that the social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic delayed home sales by an average of 136 days for any one transaction.

This represented a 20% increase in the time taken to complete a sale – or an extra 25.7 days.

Areas that seemed to have been especially hit by delays in sales were Edinburgh and parts of London – Shoreditch, the City of London, Islington, and Camden in particular.

The market is now struggling a little to make up for lost time and some efforts to streamline procedures – such as the Land Registry’s agreement to accept e-signatures – are helping.

Portsmouth property market enjoys a surge

House-hunters all over the country are eagerly emerging from lockdown and keen to make use of the current stamp duty holiday in search of their dream home – and none more so than in the city of Portsmouth on England’s south coast.

The local newspaper, The News, on the 31st of August carried accounts by one estate agent who is experiencing the busiest time for the agency since it was established in 1883.

Not only is there evidence of a welcome release of pent up demand – encouraged by the tax holiday that is set to expire next March – but many people with a home in London are now looking seriously to escape out of town, where there is more space, property is cheaper, and they can be near the sea.

Industry analysts, reports the newspaper, suggest that this July has seen a 66% increase in active buyers compared with the same month last year.

In addition to renewed life in the home sales market, estate agents in Portsmouth also report an upsurge in demand from tenants in the private rental sector.