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Scrapping Section 21, predictions for 2022, fast sales, freedom for leaseholders, and EPC improvements spell rent increases

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Want some of the hottest UK property news? Then look no further. Here, we take a look behind some of those headlines breaking this week’s news.

Mirror newspaper campaign to scrap Section 21 and clamp down on landlords

Although the move has effectively already been agreed by the government, the Daily Mirror newspaper has launched a campaign pressing for the abolition of the so-called “no-fault” eviction procedure under Section 21 of the Housing Act.

Highlighting the campaign, Landlord Today on the 21st of March, added that the newspaper is also pressing for the setting up of a national register of landlords to ensure that their properties meet “essential safety requirements”.

The rationale for the newspaper’s campaign is that Section 21 serves to protect landlords against tenants who are too frightened to complain about unsafe or unhealthy living conditions for fear of being evicted. Abolition of this provision, it is argued, would allow tenants to complain and force landlords to make suitable repairs and improvements to the let property.

In response to Landlord Today’s story, one reader commented that instead of a register of landlords, what is also needed is a “register for rogue tenants”.

UK property predictions for 2022: Insights from GPA's experts

In a press release dated the 17th of March, the Government Property Agency (GPA) offered its thoughts on prospects for the UK property market this year.

The release stated: “They (GPA experts) see 2022 as the year in which businesses show real commitment to learning and curiosity about their people’s workplace experience. It’s expected that companies will make good progress in getting the right workplace design to support the combination of people’s different working practices.

People have had experience of working at home for a long period of time now, and there will be some who want to continue this practice, but also a lot of people who will relish a choice of working environments to suit different tasks. The organisations that will be most successful will be the ones where great workplaces meet great leadership – where honest conversations about the workplace are proactively facilitated and feed into choices made by teams to enable them to work as effectively as possible.”

Some of the conclusions were on the subject of changed attitudes towards workspaces – specifically the post-pandemic switch from “presenteeism” (measuring employees’ performance according to their presence in the office) to a new model of “attendee-ism” which focuses rather on how employees actually spend their time at work.

Advances in information technology will continue to keep the customer as key to business performance – and this, too, will be reflected in the demand for and use of commercial property.

Property development in the coming year will also need to keep sharply within its sights the need for Environmental Social Governance (ESG) and the government’s targets for achieving net-zero carbon emissions.

A fifth of homes are sold within a week of going on the market

A further measure of the strength and vitality of the housing market is shown by the speed with which listed homes are sold once they appear on the market, argued the Daily Mail in a story on the 21st of March.

More than one in five homes are now selling within a week of their being offered for sale, revealed the newspaper article, as house prices achieved yet another record during the month. March has already seen a 1.7% increase in the average asking house price – the biggest rise in that month since 2004 – taking the national average to a record high of £354,564.

The annual inflation in the asking price of homes for sale has now reached 10.4% – the highest since 2014, says the newspaper.

There are notable regional differences in the strength of the market, of course, with the North east of the country recording the biggest price increases in March and those in London showing a 0.4% fall.

Thousands more leaseholders freed from rising ground rents

Following pressure from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) a further fifteen developers have agreed to remove leasehold terms that have increased ground rents by as much as 100% every 10 to 15 years or so.

An official press release on the 18th of March revealed that the undertakings given by these property companies would release a further 3,400 leaseholders and more from any increase in the ground rent they must pay.

The companies have agreed that ground rents will remain at the same level as when the leaseholders first bought their properties – neither doubling the ground rent payable nor increasing it in line with inflation or any other measure.

The CMA further promises that the question of unfair ground rents will continue to be kept “under the microscope” as their investigation continues.

Could EPC improvement costs cause a rent rise for tenants?

An article by the Buy Association on the 21st of March questioned whether obligatory improvements in the energy performance rating of let properties would cause an increase in rents.

Current government targets require that every let property must achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of at least a C by the year 2025. According to recent surveys, that would cost landlords an average of £5,900 to bring each property into line with those energy performance standards.

The same surveys also suggest that more than two-thirds of landlords (68%) would pass on at least some of those costs by way of increased rent. Just less than one in four (23%), however, indicated that they would not look to pass on such costs in the form of increased rent.