Pandemic restrictions come and go, with some areas suffering a tighter lockdown than others, but the vaccination campaign is now also gaining pace.
Amidst all this, the property market continues onwards regardless – and here is our selection of some of the eye-catching headlines.
Government revises model tenancy agreement to allow for pets
In a story on the 28th of January, the National Residential Landlords’ Association (NRLA) described how the government has amended its model tenancy agreement for use by landlords.
Landlords remain free to choose whether or not they use the model agreement but, if they do, they can no longer issue a blanket prohibition on tenants’ keeping pets.
Instead, the revised model tenancy agreement allows any tenant to make a request in writing to keep a – “well-behaved” – pet on the property. The landlord then has 28 days in which to agree to the request or to give good written reasons for withholding permission.
The NRLA emphasises that the new model agreement does not apply to all tenancies – although the government recommends its use, landlords may choose whether or not to do so. In other words, there is no legal obligation for any landlord to accept pets – and he or she may still refuse to grant a tenancy to a tenant with a pet or pets.
Making clear that the dispensation relates to “well-behaved pets”, the article warns that tenants remain responsible for making good or paying for any damage caused. It reiterates the fact that a landlord may also still withhold permission for good reasons – because the let accommodation is too small in which to keep a pet, for example.
Some home buyers may cancel their purchase if they miss the stamp duty holiday deadline
The 31st of March sees the end of the recent tax holiday on Stamp Duty for the purchase of a home valued at up to £500,000 – and some prospective purchasers are already regretting their decision to buy.
A story published on Yahoo Finance on the 27th of January explained that the stop-start restrictions on the property market last year have caused a long backlog of delayed transactions.
It means that an increasing number of would-be buyers will not be able to complete their purchases before the tax holiday deadline expires – so incurring the cost of Stamp Duty. In a recent survey, almost two in every five buyers said they would cancel the purchase if they failed to make the Stamp Duty holiday deadline of the 31st of March.
To date, an estimated quarter of all house sales have fallen through because of the current backlog of transactions, said the article.
Number of new homes built in 2020 slumps by nearly a quarter
It is hardly any surprise that the confusion and delays wrought by the pandemic and its restrictions led to a significant decline in the scheduled number of housebuilding completions last year.
According to online listings website Zoopla recently, the number of new homes finished in 2020 fell by 23% to a total of just 123,151 – down from 2019’s tally of 160,319 and the lowest figure since 2012.
Output was most severely affected during the height of the first national lockdown last April and June, which put paid to continued construction work until the restrictions began to be eased at the end of the summer.
Despite these delays and setbacks, the output of newly built homes has now recovered to the levels achieved before the appearance of the pandemic.
Landlords buying in cities, bucking the Covid countryside craze
The coronavirus pandemic and its successive lockdowns have prompted an exodus to the countryside by homeowners, property investors, and tenants alike. Or not, according to a story by Landlord Today last week.
There have been many tales about homeowners and tenants escaping from city life once the pandemic had made home working in the peace and tranquillity of a rural setting a realistic prospect. Our news round-up on the 10th of December 2020 made the point that some of the most searched for terms used by house-hunting internet browsers were “rural”, “secluded” and “detached”.
But the article in Landlord Today gives the lie to an unmitigated exodus to the countryside. Instead, savvy property investors – in anticipation of renewed interest in city life – are choosing those concentrations of population for their buy to let properties.
According to a recent survey, 16% of a sample of such investors planned to buy an average of 2.2 city properties within the next 12 months.
Over half of students wouldn’t rent a property with poor internet
Rather less of a surprise, given an increased emphasis on virtual learning and studying almost exclusively from home, students are insisting on renting accommodation that has fast and reliable internet connections.
The findings were published by Agility PR Solutions recently and revealed that 58% of surveyed students said they would not rent any accommodation that did not have ready access to high-speed broadband.
The survey also found that up to a third of students are now spending five more hours every day studying online; some 21% are spending an additional four to five hours online; and 24% are investing a further two to three hours a day in their online studies.