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UK property news snippets: Fall in house prices, licensing backlog, how landlords can support tenants and RICS cladding advice

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The principal trends underlying current UK property news headlines are related to the effects of inflation and the rising cost of living – whether that’s youngsters renting for longer, the current fall in house prices, or advice to landlords on how they can support their tenants.

Other news shines a light on a massive backlog in processing landlords’ applications for licences issued by Liverpool Council and the latest advice from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors about valuations of flats where cladding has been used.

Tenants rent for longer as first-time buyers get ever older

Within the space of just two years, the average age at which a first-time buyer makes that critical first purchase has gone up from an average of 32 to 37 years old, revealed a story in Landlord Today on the 7th of December.

As a result of that trend, it has been shown that tenants are renting for longer the older they need to be before they can afford to buy. The average first-time buyer, for example, is having to wait seven and a half years to have saved enough for the deposit on their first home.

When asked about the reasons for having to delay that first step on the housing ladder, 86% of the respondents said it was because of the current cost of living crisis – with inflation already running at a 40-year high of 10.1% and forecast to become even worse. Their replies also referred to the related problem of being able to save enough for the initial deposit on any home they wanted to buy.

UK house prices show biggest drop since 2008

The current financial crisis was also given as the principal reason for a fall in average house prices, according to a story by the Reuters news agency on the 7th of December.

In November, average house prices fell by 2.3% on the previous month – itself a fall of 0.4% on average prices in October – and the biggest slump in prices since the financial crisis of October 2008.

The quickening rate of the slowdown in the housing market reflects both the national challenge of increases in the cost of living and the wider, global financial crisis, said Reuters.

Liverpool landlord licensing scheme backlog could take 148 years to clear

A selective licensing scheme for housing in Liverpool’s private rented sector is ridiculed as a “waste of time”, according to an article published by the National Residential Landlords’ Association (NRLA) on the 7th of December.

The article reveals that since the introduction of the scheme on the 1st of April, just 104 of the relevant licences have been granted - despite Liverpool Council having received more than 31,000 applications. To clear a backlog of anything like these numbers would take around 150 years, critics have complained.

The selective licensing scheme was intended to raise the overall quality of sub-standard housing in the private rented sector, said Liverpool Council. The NRLA argues that the painfully slow rate of processing applications – not to mention the huge backlog – only goes to show that the scheme cannot have been worthwhile in the first place.

Rather than imposing a blanket licensing scheme that affects all landlords in any given area of the city, the NRLA argues that only the rogue landlords and those responsible for failing to maintain their let properties need to be targeted.

How landlords can support renters during the cost-of-living crisis

Recognising the potential toll increases in the cost of living will have on cash-strapped tenants, the online listings website Zoopla on the 5th of December has suggested ways in which landlords might lend a helping hand – not just financially but in more welcoming attitudes:

  • in the event of arrears, devise a repayment plan with the participation of the tenant concerned;
  • if you are forced to take eviction proceedings, make sure you also let the local authority know – so that alternative housing options might be offered to your former tenants;
  • if you have a disagreement with your tenants that you’ve been unable to resolve, use an appropriate mediation service – such as those recommended by the National Residential Landlords’ Association (NRLA);
  • when selecting tenants, don’t discriminate against applicants on benefits or Universal Credit;
  • let your tenants pay a deposit in instalments;
  • offer longer or indeterminate tenancies – to reduce the anxiety of short-term tenancies; and
  • extend your welcome to tenants with pets.

RICS publishes new advice to valuers regarding cladding

With effect from the 6th of December, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has brought into effect new guidelines to be followed by those professionals preparing valuations of multi-occupancy, multi-storey, residential properties with cladding.

The guidance is especially designed to support the renewed interest of mortgage lenders in such property and aims to provide the framework for a consistent and transparent approach by valuers.