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Vets for pets, the equity hiding in your property, “criminal landlords” and other property news

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There’s rarely a dull moment when it comes to the property market. This week has proved no exception.

The headlines see a further shout-out for tenants’ pets, the understimated equity in property, places where house prices are in the doldrums and others where they are soaring. Plus, a demand for rogue landlords to face the full force of the law.

Vets want pets allowed in lets

A major organisation for vets up and down the country, the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) has lent its weight to growing pressure for greater freedoms for tenants in private rented accommodation to keep pets, according to Letting Agent Today this week.

The vets argue that pets can significantly improve the quality of life for their owners and that denying tenants this privilege is preventing all the benefits that keeping a pet may bring. This ranges from general improvements in mental health, a reduction in anxiety, and a lower incidence of depression and other mental disorders.

The vets argue that allowing tenants to keep pets may also be in the direct interests of landlords. They cite studies by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals (RSPCA) that where tenants have been allowed to keep pets, they ate likely to stay put in that rental property for twice as long compared with other tenants – so increasing longer-term security of tenancies for landlords.

NOAH is pressing for wider use of the revised model tenancy agreement recently published by the government and which we commented on in our news round-up of the 3rd of February 2021.

How much hidden equity is in your property?

The property market moves at such a rate that the average homeowner is likely to be undervaluing the home by as much as £50,000, according to research completed by online listings website Zoopla on the 21st of April.

Indeed, as few as three in ten homeowners have any accurate idea of how much their home is worth, concludes the survey, with the result that almost half (45%) of all owners undervalue their homes by an average of £46,300. That undervaluation, of course, can be described as a hidden equity – still to be discovered or realised by the homeowner.

As many as one in ten homeowners undervalued their property by as much as £100,000 or more – with 40% of those under-valuations being made in London and the south east. On the figures revealed by the survey, as many as one million homes in the UK are currently undervalued by a six-figure factor – a very substantial hidden equity as far as those homeowners are concerned.

The areas where the pandemic is still affecting property prices

Amidst the jubilation of property owners about the revival of the market post-pandemic – and the encouragement it has been given by low interest rates and tax holidays – there are still pockets of the country continuing to suffer from the effects of recent lockdowns.

An article in Property Reporter this week emphasised that any negative effects were relative to the way in which most areas have bounced back since the first reported case of Covid in the UK.

Average prices across the whole country since the end of January 2020 have seen an average increase of 8.1% in house prices, with every region enjoying that upward trend. The north east has seen the largest increase during this time, up 11.8%, followed by Scotland (9.8%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (9%). 

Because the UK property market is so diverse, however, not every area in every region has enjoyed the same level of success. House prices in London, for example, have risen by an average of 5.6%. Yet, there are pockets of the capital – notably Westminster, Tower Hamlets, the City of London, and Wandsworth – that have seen a fall in average prices (of between -5.6% and -1.9%).

UK house prices soar at highest rate for 7 years

A story in the Express newspaper on the 22nd of April, on the other hand, reiterated the more familiar story of runaway prices in the revitalised housing market.

Citing the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the article revealed that average house prices across the whole of the UK rose by an average of 8.6% in the 12 months to the end of February 2021. That is roughly an additional £20,000 on the average price of a home – which now stands at £250,000.

The north west of England saw the steepest rise in average prices – which rose by almost 12% - while London remained at the bottom of the scale, with house prices there rising by “only” 4.6% in 12 months.

Activity in the property market has also soared. House sales in March this year were practically double what they were the same time last year – 190,980 sales in March 2021 against 94,380 sales in March 2020.

Baroness urges police to get tough with “criminal landlords”

Baroness Alicia Kennedy, who leads the Generation Rent campaign group has called for tougher action against landlords who illegally evict their tenants – a practice she argues has risen during the confusion of pandemic lockdowns.

Landlord Today on the 26th of April reported claims by the Baroness that in only 2% of cases are landlords convicted for the illegal evictions that have conducted. The figures cited in that claim relate to the claimed 1,040 illegal evictions in 2019-2020 (it had been 810 illegal evictions the previous year) when only 24 prosecutions actually made it to court.

 

The campaign group is pressing for candidates in the upcoming elections for posts of Police and Crime Commissioner to commit to pursuing incidents of illegal eviction, wherever they occur, to the full force of the law.