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What renters want, Stamp Duty, house prices, updated advice for landlords and tenants

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Could it be that things are slowly getting back to normal – if only a “new normal” – as far as the housing market is concerned?

To help you judge for yourself, here are a few of the latest news snippets.

Renters want space and open-air

It’s the question every landlord needs to ask themselves all the time – what exactly do my tenants want? The answer is the key to investing wisely in buy to let accommodation and marketing the property accordingly.

An article in Property Reporter on the 5th of June pointed to at least one of those answers. Following experiences of being locked up at home during the Covid-19 crisis, tenants are now expressing an overwhelming preference for properties with a garden. Online searches for such rented property have increased by 193% while those for rented accommodation in terraced housing has also seen a 204% leap in interest.

The experience of lockdown has also renewed tenants’ demand for personal mobility, and this is reflected in a staggering 1,500% increase in demand for rented accommodation with bicycle storage facilities.

Stamp Duty – rules change on delayed purchases

There are signs that the government may have had at least half an ear open to our news piece on the 28th of May when we reported a groundswell of calls for a Stamp Duty holiday in order to stimulate a housing market that is only now coming out of its recent suspension.

A story in Property Wire on the 4th of June explains that the government has made it easier for homeowners to reclaim the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge they are likely to have paid on a home they bought before having sold their original home – circumstances which resulted in their buying a second home and, therefore, subject to the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge.

Although there has been a 3-year limit during which claims for a refund could be made once the original home was sold, the government has now indicated that the time-limit will be extended.

Echoing the story on the 4th of June, the Express newspaper also reviewed the circumstances under which Stamp Duty is payable and the allowances granted to first-time buyers.

House prices drop - but it’s not all bad say some sources

Hit by the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the housing market has been hit hard, with prices falling by 1.7% between April and May – the sharpest monthly fall in eleven years – said the BBC on the 2nd of June.

During the month of April, the number of completed property transactions fell by a staggering 53% compared with the same month last year.

A story by Property Reporter a few days' later, however, painted the picture on house prices in a slightly rosier light, emphasising the fact that the market is beginning to pick up. Even though average house prices were lower in May than in April and 0.5% lower over the three months from March to May, prices in May still managed to stay 2.6% higher than in the same month in 2019.

Landlords and tenants: updated guidance published on dealing with Covid-19

Further to our story on the 17th of April, the government has now updated its guidance to landlords and tenants on how to respond to difficulties encountered during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The latest update of government guidance is the subject of comment by Residential Landlord on the 5th of June.

The guidance begins by repeating that tenants should continue to pay their rent and abide by the terms and conditions of their tenancy agreement “to the best of their ability”.

If tenants encounter financial difficulties because of the coronavirus crisis, they should let their landlord know as soon as possible and discuss the options. Instead of seeking repossession of the let property, for example, landlords are encouraged to agree to temporarily accept a lower payment of rent or that the tenant pays off any arrears at a later date.

If any such agreement is reached, says the guidance, both landlord and tenant should endeavour to stick to it.