According to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), the government’s Tenant Fees Bill now introduced to the Commons is a ‘missed opportunity’ to make quicker and more lasting improvements in the rental market.
As part of reform of the private rental sector, The Bill means that tenants are now one step closer to seeing letting fees banned. However, RLA argues that changes should have been made to better enforce existing regulations designed to improve transparency around letting agent fees.
The law has compelled letting agents to publish details of the fees they charge since May 2015. Agents breaking this law can be fined up to £5,000.
However, 93% of councils had failed to issue a single financial penalty to a letting agent for breaching the law, according to data published last year by the National Approved Letting Scheme.
There are now concerns that the fees ban will simply shift the cost of all the letting agent fees on to the landlords, and if that were to happen, it would leave most landlords with no choice but to further increase rents, as letting agents look to pass existing tenant fees onto landlords.
“With warnings that the policy could lead to rent rises, there is a very real danger that whilst cutting the upfront costs of renting, tenants will find themselves paying them through higher rents on a permanent basis,” said the RLA’s policy director, David Smith.
The RLA is calling for immediate action to better enforce the law as it currently stands, including the government using powers it has so far failed to use to force agents to display the fees they charge in more prominent positions and specify them in much greater detail.
Soucre: Landlord Today
In many countries such as the US, Germany and France, purpose-built blocks of rental homes are commonly found. In Britain they are a relatively new phenomenon, but are fast becoming a hot investment for property developers and city firms such as Legal & General, which are eager to tap into the rising trend for long-term renting. The sector is expanding throughout England, with 80,855 Build to Rent homes either completed or planned, according to recent official figures.
Quintain’s Wembley Park development, which will include 5,000 purpose-built rental homes, is the biggest build-to-rent project in the UK, worth £3bn. The 85-acre site is due to be completed in 2025-26, about 15,000 people are expected to be living and working on the site. Currently, more than 1,300 homes have already been built and a further 3,000 are under construction. The tallest tower will be 26 storeys, but not high enough to look into the stadium. Most of the planned 63 new buildings will have roof gardens, office buildings, a primary school, a theatre, health facilities and a park the size of four football pitches is planned.
The rent will include utility bills and ultra-fast broadband. Communal lounge areas adjacent to the entrance come with kitchenettes and Sky TV; there is a residents’ gym and screening room and a concierge is on hand 24 hours a day to deal with deliveries and emergencies.
Quintain however does admit that many tenants will be “paying a premium for the lifestyle,” but it says 32% of the planned homes at Wembley Park will be affordable. This is a higher proportion than seen at many other London developments, and just below the 35% target set by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan - down from his election promise of 50%.
The borough, Brent, is one of London’s poorest but nearly 40% of the affordable Wembley Park homes will be let at a discount (in comparison to market rents), with the maximum rent set at 65% to 80% of market value. A further 28% will be at an affordable rent and 33% are earmarked for shared ownership and discount sales.
Brent supports the mayor in seeking a minimum of 35% affordable housing on all new developments. It delivered 30% in the three years to 2015-16, above the 24% London average, according to a council spokeswoman. “We expect to see Quintain construct 3,000 new homes by the end of the year. This can only help to tackle the dire housing situation in London,” she said.
As of 1st April 2018 it will be a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rental sector to have a minimum energy performance rating of E according to the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) associated with that property. The regulations will come into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020.
This regulation has been put in place to ensure that those tenants who most need energy-efficient homes are able to enjoy a much better standard of living and lower energy bills. Although newly built homes in the private rental sector tend to have higher energy-efficiency ratings than the average, there remains a stock of older, period properties, many of which have poor energy efficiency and are difficult and costly to heat. These less efficient properties result in higher tenant energy bills and, for many, an increased likelihood of living in fuel poverty.
While tenants will benefit in terms of their reduced energy bills or through increased warmth comfort and the associated health benefits, energy efficiency improvements also benefit landlords. When the Regulations were designed, a number of landlord associations identified a range of benefits for landlords including: increased tenant satisfaction and reduced void periods, reduced long-term property maintenance costs, and improved desirability of their properties.
Indeed, a report by Sustainable Homes in 2016 on social housing demonstrated that improving the energy efficiency of rental housing reduced both rent arrears and voids. Recent data has also shown that increasing a property’s energy efficiency may increase the market value. With these quantifiable benefits to hand, landlords should see the new regulations as an opportunity to maximise rental value and return on their properties, and tenants should in turn enjoy lower energy bills as a result of their implementation.
The city of London is now offering new opportunities when it comes to house buying, with almost 65,000 affordable new homes planned to be built in the capital per year.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has a draft London Plan, which means that the London property map will be significantly changed. Due to high prices in parts of central and inner London, young buyers have had to look at other areas if they want to invest in property.
Parts of London that would not normally be top of a property shopping list are being revitalised with a series of regeneration projects and transportation upgrades, which is creating brand new hotspots and opportunities that are hard to ignore. The Mayor’s plan has set out targets for each borough in the city as well as identifying ‘Opportunity Areas’ in which large amounts of investment are being directed. These ‘Opportunity Areas’ are priority zones where development and regeneration are to be progressed.
There are as many as 30 areas designated for this attention, and the process has already begun in Stratford and Nine Elms. It now seems that Charlton Riverside, Colindale, Cricklewood, Harrow, Kensal Canalside, Catford, New Cross, Ilford, Southall, Park Royal, Woolwich, Thamesmead and Abbey Wood are next in line for a period of regeneration.
Buying a property in London has never been easy, but moving away from the typically popular areas to these up and coming hotspots could prove to be a profitable investment.
City Living London will be closed from Saturday the 23rd of December 2017 until Tuesday 2nd January 2018.
If you have any problems whilst we are closed, please see below:
Out of Hours Emergency Contact Details
Clearly stating you are a City Living London tenant, contact Danny Henderson on 07825 542191 for major plumbing and heating issues; contact Veritas on 0845 125 4367 for major electrical issues.*
Our handyman will still be dealing with lock outs, lost keys and minor maintenance however there may be a delayed response during the festive period so please be patient. Call Hadi on 07703 180 014.**
We do ask that if you need to call out Danny, Veritas or Hadi that you also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org leaving details of the matter. For any other matters please email your enquiries over to email@example.com.
Please note that whilst the office is closed we will be monitoring our emails and any non urgent issues will be dealt with promptly when the office reopens on the 2nd of January 2018.
Check Outs and Terminations
As per your contract, no check outs will be conducted between the 15th of December 2017 and the 15th of January 2018.
Please note that if you are a tenant serving notice to vacate, it will not be deemed accepted unless and until you resend your notice to firstname.lastname@example.org and receipt is acknowledged by City Living London.
In the meantime, may we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
* Please note that if Veritas, Danny Henderson or our handyman is called out to a non-emergency, the cost of this call out will be invoiced to the tenant in question. For the avoidance of doubt, an emergency is classified as a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or environment.
** A call out charge of £125 will apply for lock outs and the handyman will be unable to supply new keys or locks during this time.
The government is currently in the process of reviewing the effectiveness of the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. This will have an impact on all private landlords and tenants, so we invite you to offer your views on the matter.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force on the 1st of October 2015. They require private rented sector landlords to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire or a wood burning stove). The landlord is also obliged to ensure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy, whilst the tenant is responsible for ensuring that they remain in working order throughout their stay in the property.
During the passage of the regulations through Parliament in 2015, ministers made a commitment to review them in 2017. Although the consultation does not indicate any intention to change the existing regulation, it could yet form part of the post-Grenfell Tower building regulations review.
The consultation invites views and comments to gather evidence on the effectiveness of the regulations to date and we invite you to offer your own, along with any experiences you may have had, either directly via the consultation or to us as your managing agent.
You have until 9th January 2018 to respond with your views and we would love to hear from you!
Fair wear and tear has always been a grey area for landlords and letting agents alike. Because it tends to fluctuate from case to case, it is one of the least understood areas of the letting process; one which can create much ambiguity and lead to disputes at the end of a tenancy.
On the other hand poor cleanliness and any damage which leaves the property markedly different from the property’s original state is far easier to identify if there is an Inventory and Schedule of Condition in place, enabling the landlord to use the tenant’s deposit to compensate. As a result, No Letting Go is supporting the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) petition demanding mandatory independent Inventories for all private residential tenancies.
No Letting Go, a major provider of inventory and compliance services to the letting industry, also wants to see compulsory Inventories combined with compliance reporting.
According to No Letting Go CEO, Nick Lyons, a detailed and precise Inventory completed at the start of the tenancy, and a corresponding report when the tenancy ends, acts as one of the most decisive documents in evidencing the landlord’s obligations under the existing fire safety legislation.
No Letting Go wants the government to go further in also requiring the report to evidence compliance with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015 and the Fire and Furnishing Safety Regulations 1988. The company believes this will greatly improve standards, will support the industry and will help the government manage the ever-growing safety requirements of landlords.
Lyons said: “Independent inventory providers have a duty of care to protect the interests of both landlords and tenants alike. The government has introduced legislation to protect tenants but with no real effective means to monitor it.
“The introduction of a compulsory combined Inventory and compliance report for all let properties compiled by trained, independent professionals will help ensure that landlords meet their legal responsibilities and assist the government and trading standards to police the landlord’s requirement to protect tenants.”
The Right to Rent Scheme, which was rolled out across England last year, places the onus on landlords, or lettings agents acting on their behalf, to verify whether tenants have the right to reside in the UK by ensuring that they see original copies of identification documentation and approving photocopies of such documentation accordingly. However, there is a growing concern that the rule has fuelled discrimination against British Citizens who have no passports, as well as foreigners, leaving them at a disadvantage in the private rental market.
A new BBC investigation has found that many letting agents and landlords are unable to identify a fake passport when presented with one, leaving them vulnerable to fraudsters. The research reveals that criminal gangs are using fake IDs that are impossible to identify with the naked eye. An undercover reporter for BBC Inside Out London was able to purchase counterfeit passports, as well as National Insurance cards and residence permits, from illegal dealers across London. With the use of a secret camera the reporter recorded the deals, with fraudsters charging up to £500 for a fake passport. The fake IDs were then presented to letting agents, who accepted them without question as proof of UK residency status.
Akhbar (not his real name) told Inside Out: “In an average week they were selling between six to 10 fake residence permits or passports. In the last few months or so I would say they got even busier.” Home Office figures show 170 fines have been issued to landlords under Right to Rent rules since October 2016. But a Home Affairs spokesperson told the BBC that landlords and letting agents were not expected to be experts in spotting forged documents. David Smith of Anthony Gold Solicitors, who specialises in landlord and tenant law, expressed his concern. “They do not have the knowledge or skills to do the job properly. I've never met a landlord who can tell a valid Liechtenstein passport from a forgery,” he told the BBC.
As the weather gets colder and the rain sets in, here are a few helpful tips to make sure your home stays in good condition, even if you're away!
1. Set the timer on your heater so that you can make the most of the warmth when you're in, yet save the pennies when nobody’s home.
2. Open the window or the door a little (obviously not the main one to your flat) so that you ventilate your flat at night, this will help to reduce condensation and subsequent damp when your heating is on.
3. Unplug electric blankets before going to bed, unless they have thermostat and timer controls.
4. Look out for leaks, it’s that time of year when boilers are under pressure and the persistent rain takes its toll on the buildings.
5. If you are a current tenant of City Living London, please notify us if you will be away from your flat for more than 14 days.
Ideally the temperature in your living space should be at 21°C, 18°C for the rest of your home and hot water is best at around 60°C.
Also be mindful that the clocks go back on Sunday 29th October, so yippee for the extra hour in bed but this does mean you should check any timers or clocks to make sure they are correct!
Private tenants who pay their rent on time should see their credit rating boosted in order to make it easier for them to gain a foot on the housing ladder.
That is the advice being given following a survey of almost 3,000 buy-to-let landlords carried out by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which found that 61% of landlords would support such a move.
Credit rating agencies do not currently routinely include rental payment history when calculating credit scores. This means a tenant can find it difficult to access a mortgage, even if they have a long history of rent being paid in full and on time.
The RLA believes that including rental payment history in this way will also allow landlords to make a more accurate assessment of a prospective tenant’s suitability, and are subsequently calling on the government to work with the industry and recommend that it is included as a standard feature when calculating credit scores.
The RLA’s chairman, Alan Ward, commented: “With many tenants wanting to buy a house of their own, it is absurd rent payment is not routinely included when undertaking credit checks for mortgage applications. Moving to such a scheme would help not just tenants, but also landlords by giving them a clearer sense of whether a prospective tenant has historically paid their rent in full and on time.” Source: Landlord Today
Going to university can be a stressful time without the added confusion of having to sort out your living arrangements. Choosing your accommodation will be one of the most important decisions you’ll make before you start your course. Whether it’s university-managed halls, a student development, private accommodation or staying at home; there really are an abundance of choices available. Here at City Living London, we provide affordable private accommodation that is fully managed in house.
For years private renting has been the most popular form of student accommodation, allowing you to live independently, without supervision, for the first time. Living in private accommodation also benefits you for the future, giving you key experience of renting and buying in the UK. It gives valuable real life experience with budgeting, contractual and practical responsibilities, and in learning how to manage your own space.
Whether you’re new to London and living independently, or a mature student with a clear idea of what you want, private rental may be best for you. We currently have an extensive list of available student properties, and with summer drawing closer there will be a rush to rent the biggest and best accommodation over the coming weeks. To avoid disappointment we advise securing your accommodation as early as possible.
City Living London currently manages over 360 properties across London, in areas such as Kensington, Bayswater, Marylebone, Notting Hill, Victoria, Pimlico, Earls Court, Paddington, Kilburn and Maida Vale. If you are looking for accommodation in these areas, contact us now on 0207 351 6100 and speak to one of our team to arrange a viewing.
This summer many of you will be thinking of jetting away for a period of stress free fun, so we have created a list of top tips for while you are away and to prevent you coming back to something unexpected!
1. First of all, please drop us an email at email@example.com if you are away on a summer vacation for longer than 2 weeks. Please confirm that you are happy for us to access in the event of an emergency or maintenance issue, so we don't need to bother you.
2. Contact Royal Mail to let them know you will not be at your property for a while and they will retain your mail during the period of your vacation.
3. Try cleaning your fridge and even defrosting your freezer before you go on holiday. This will prevent you from coming back to any rotting food or bad smells in your property. By turning your fridge and freezer off you could also save money, but do remember to put some towels below the freezer to soak up any water, and leave the door ajar to prevent the fridge/freezer smelling.
4. It might seem obvious but do empty your rubbish bins the day you leave to avoid attracting unwanted pests.
5. Turn off the heating, where possible, and switch off any other items to ensure you don’t return to unnecessary energy bills.
6. If you have any indoor plants, depending on the duration of your trip ensure you have watered them before you leave, you do not want to return to wilted or even dead plants!
7. Do not leave any spare keys under your mats or in any of the communal areas for security reasons. If you plan to leave a spare set with a friend or family member during your holiday please let us know their name and contact details.
8. Most importantly make sure all your windows and doors are closed and locked before you leave, including double locking your front door.
For those of you who do plan to go away we hope you have a wonderful break. And for those of you who plan to stay in London – enjoy your summer!
Easter is approaching and we know that planning how to spend your long weekend can be tricky. The excuse to gorge on chocolate is not the only reason for excitement, there are also many events happening around London. Easter Sunday falls on 16th April 2017 however there is plenty of impressive stuff happening on Good Friday (14th April) and all throughout the weekend in London!
There will be an open air event taking place in Trafalgar Square on Good Friday providing an atmospheric backdrop for ‘The Passion of Jesus’ – the story of his last days on earth. There will be two shows on the day with up to 10,000 people expected to attend each show. The play will be shown on big screens and is absolutely free to watch.
If you are looking to spend the Easter weekend with family, why not visit the Adventures in Moominland at the Southbank Centre, which takes you on a journey to discover the world of Tove Jansson’s iconic characters. This very popular exhibition forms part of the year-long Nordic Matters Festival where you can explore all things Scandinavian in the Centre after the tour. Tickets are priced from £12, open Friday to Monday.
If you’re around Greenwich, keep an eye out for some unusual boats on the river as the Tall Ship Festival is back. For a small cost, some of the larger ships can be visited. The event will be taking place between the 14th and the 17th of April.
Those celebrating Easter in the east should head to Stratford East Village by the Olympic Park on Saturday 15th April, where a family-friendly Alice in Wonderland themed egg hunt around the former Athletes Village will take place.
Lastly, if all you want this weekend is to party, why not join the Easter Carnival at the Magic Roundabout. Here you will find DJs, dancers, contortionists, mimes, magicians and sketch artists doing their thing right above Old Street station.
So whether you want to go egg hunting, hit one of the bank holiday parties or indulge in a complete chocolate overload, we’ve got it covered!
2016 was a year full of surprises no one saw coming, and no one could forecast the next event. Certainly 2017 will be another intriguing and challenging year in terms of the economy, politics and property. All of the team at City Living London wish you all the best for 2017!
As the holidays are upon us, City Living London will be closed for Christmas from 5:30pm on the 23rd of December and will reopen at 9am on the 3rd of January 2017.
If you are a tenant contacting us with regard to a genuine plumbing, heating or electrical emergency:
• For plumbing and heating issues please call Danny Henderson on 07849632274 and clearly state that you are a City Living London tenant.
• For electrical issues please call Veritas on 01666817874 and clearly state you are a City Living London tenant.
• If you have been locked out please call our handyman Hadi on 07703180014, bearing in mind that this will incur a £125 incl VAT call out charge which is payable in cash on Hadi’s arrival.
For the avoidance of doubt, an emergency is classified as a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or environment. Please be advised that if a call out is made for a situation not deemed a genuine emergency then any charge associated with the call out may be passed onto you.
Please also note that if you are a tenant serving notice to vacate, it will not be deemed accepted unless you resend your notice to firstname.lastname@example.org and receipt is acknowledged by City Living London.
Finally from all of the City Living London team, we wish you a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas – the trees are up, the dazzling Christmas lights and decorations are on and the streets are full of jolly jingles. Prepare yourself for some serious festive cheer; there are plenty of exciting events happening around London, many of which won’t break the bank. It may be cold but layer up and head outside to enjoy what London has to offer at this wonderful time of year.
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is the ultimate Christmas extravaganza, guaranteed to get you in the festive mood. Along with a raft of special festive events, you’ll find foodie gifts, hand crafted presents, funfair rides and usually a bit of traditional mulled wine to help you get into that merry spirit! For those who love ice skating, ice rinks pop up at places like Hyde Park, Somerset House, Canary Wharf and the Natural History Museum, the latter of which is generally considered to be the prettiest.
In Trafalgar Square you’ll find a huge Christmas tree, beautifully lit up from early December and donated to the people of Britain every year by the city of Oslo as a token of their gratitude for the British support given to Norway during the Second World War. Every weekday evening and weekend afternoon visitors are treated to free Christmas carols, making it a very festive place to be indeed.
For those who need a bit of help with their Christmas shopping, quite apart from the world-famous Oxford and Regent Streets, there are lots of Christmas markets and festive fairs throughout the capital in December. The world famous Portobello Market has an extensive range of antique and rare vintage clothing stores, where you can pick up a unique present at a bargain price. Open daily, Saturday is the main market day with the antique, fruit and vegetable and flea markets all open. For more festive markets around London visit http://bit.ly/1yYFwrv.
From all of the City Living London team we would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you all in 2017!
According to research by Countrywide, rents in London have fallen annually for the first time in nearly six years. With average monthly rents at an eye-watering £1280, this adjustment has resulted prices for new lets dropping by an average of £7 per month, in comparison to the same time a year ago. The last time rents fell in the capital was in November 2010, when the average monthly rent in London was a comparatively cheap £923 per month.
The housing market earlier this year saw a number of landlords rushing to push through their purchases as a result of the 3% stamp duty hike levied on buy-to-let properties, which came into force on April 1st. The majority of these properties are likely now on the rental market, which improves the choice for tenants and should result in further depression of London rents, particularly in Prime areas where transactions are comparatively low.
Last year in July in the whole of the UK, 16% of tenants paid over the asking rent to secure a tenancy on a home compared to 7% in July 2016. The falling rental figures were much more significant in London in comparison, with only 11% of homes letting for more than the asking price in July 2016, a drop from 32% in July 2015.
At City Living London we have always sought to price our properties competitively with a view to finding long term, happy tenants. Our average monthly rental is below the London average, at £1147.50, and our tenant fees are similarly competitive at £270.00. If you move again through us, these fees are discounted by 50%, meaning our fees for return tenants are some of the most affordable in London.
Although rental price growth has slowed, current market dynamics are likely to accelerate the growth of renting, suggests Countrywide. With more stock and higher levels of demand, the increasing number of rented households looks set to continue to increase in 2016.
According to a new study, the Right to Rent scheme is causing landlords significant stress and worry, especially in areas of the UK with a high number of immigrants.
A recent survey of 500 landlords found that Right to Rent is one of the top three causes of stress for over a third of buy-to-let landlords, ahead of dealing with bad tenants, tax and inland revenue, void periods, securing finance and dealing with tenant complaints. Only rent arrears and necessary repairs to their property were rated more stressful than the new Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014.
Landlords are suffering the most in areas such as London and the South East, the West Midlands, the East of England and the North West where the immigration levels are highest. Research by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) found that when Right to Rent came into force, a shocking 90% of landlords in England and Wales had not received any information from the government on their legal duties under the new set of laws. The research also found that 72% of the landlords did not understand their obligations and 44% will only rent to tenants who have documents that the landlord is familiar with. As of the 1st of February 2016, landlords or their managing agent are legally obliged to ensure their tenants have the right to stay in the UK. Those who do not risk being reported to the authorities and could face a fine of up to £3,000.
Landlords are also worried that they are paying over the odds for the additional reference checks which are required to ensure that they are compliant with the new legislation.
At City Living London, we will ensure that we complete the Right to Rent check for the initial term on any tenants for whom it is necessary. Our Right to Rent checks are carried out as part of our normal referencing process and do not involve additional costs to our clients or tenants. In addition, if a landlord takes up our Management service, we will ensure that you remain compliant throughout the course of the tenancy.
If you are interested in letting out your property and would like any advice or information about this recent legislation, please contact our Lettings Manager, Laurelin Taylor, on 020 7351 6100.
This summer may not be considered a scorcher (yet), but that doesn’t matter when you are faced with a hot line-up of things to do! In July, world-class athletics will fill the Olympics Park once again for two days for the Olympic Anniversary Games. The famous Usain Bolt will be in attendance on Friday the 22nd and our Nation’s Favourite Mo Farah on Saturday the 23rd, along with other top athletic stars over the weekend. http://bit.ly/21qcMpd
For those who enjoy comedy, catch the top comedy acts, live music, variety shows and family entertainment at London’s first ever Montreal’s Just For Laughs comedy event. The festival will be showcasing big names and emerging talent from the UK and the rest of the globe, with free daily street acts and activities in Russell Square. http://bit.ly/297V9X3
Last but certainly not least, with the Summer Bank Holiday weekend approaching on the 29th August, be sure to attend Notting Hill Carnival. Britain’s biggest street party is back once again and this year is taking place on Sunday the August 28th with the main parade and grand finale to be held on Monday 29th August. Since 1964, the capital’s Caribbean communities have celebrated their culture and traditions at this two-day festival of fantastic live music, which ranges from reggae to dub to salsa. http://bit.ly/1yFlOAc
The recent announcement that the United Kingdom is to leave the EU has resulted in widespread announcements regarding the possible effects it may have on the UK housing market. It’s early days, but does Brexit mean that house price growth is over, and the supply of new homes will be reduced making it harder for buyers to get on to the property ladder?
Some have suggested that British property prices will drop by up to 18% in the coming 12 to 18 months which in return would raise the cost of mortgages and therefore lower demand for property. History shows that property prices dropped nationally by 18.7% between the peak of 2007 and bottom of the market in 2009. Having said this, London’s housing market is famously resilient and the possibility of the Bank of England dropping interest rates to 0.25% or even 0% over the summer of 2016 will go some way towards buoying up a teetering economy, as will George Osbourne’s latest announcement that corporation tax is likely to be cut to an all-time low of 15%.
Brexit could be considered a positive move for first time buyers, who may subsequently benefit from lower house prices. Both buyers and sellers will be carefully watching market activity and the effects upon it of the Brexit vote. Uncertainty will continue until David Cameron’s replacement has been appointed, until Article 50 is invoked or even longer, whilst the UK negotiates the terms of its exit from Europe.
Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, and David Cox, Managing Director of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents, made a joint statement that both prices and rents will remain stable in the short term, but that no one can be certain about the next quarter’s performance, as political instability and market unrest could lead through into prices.
Consumer confidence is unsettled and it’s likely to be some time before there is greater clarity around the long term effects.
A recent investigation has found that the Help to Buy scheme is not in fact helping everyone, with many UK homes priced out of the scheme, particularly in London, according to BBC. The scheme was set up last year to help young people onto the property ladder, with the government saying that the cap ensures that the scheme is intended for first time buyers. It was introduced to allow first time buyers to put their deposit into a tax-free savings account and get a 25% bonus, up to a maximum of £3,000 when they buy their home. The price of a house under the scheme cannot exceed £450,000 in London, or £250,000 everywhere else in England. However, the Help to Buy ISA only gives savers a £3,000 bonus on their deposit if the price of the house is below the cap. In addition, starter homes exceed the price cap in many areas across England. Shelter, the housing charity, has been quoted as saying that it only helped a few and the government needs to focus on building more homes.
Average asking prices exceed the cap in 65% of the areas in London, 67% in the South East, 61% in the South and 53% in the East. In London, an average two bedroom flat exceeds the cap in two thirds of boroughs, while one bedroom flats exceed the cap in a third of boroughs. Only 10% of three bedroom homes in London fall below the cap. Outside of London, a two bedroom starter home exceeded the cap in 28% of the UK.
Therefore, in terms of monthly outgoings and despite the average Londoner outlaying nearly 30% of their monthly income on rent, renting is often still a less expensive option than the Help to Buy scheme. In London and the South East especially, where the property prices are highest, renting tends to be cheaper than the monthly mortgage payments.
If you are about to start searching for a home in London, please contact us on 020 7351 6100 and we would be delighted to show you any listings which may suit your requirements.
Grosvenor Waterside is built around a dock which was originally a waterway (The Grosvenor Canal) stretching from the Thames to Victoria Station. This waterway, which opened in 1823, provided the Chelsea Waterworks Company with its water supply. It was the last functioning canal to close in London, being used as late as the 1990’s for commercial purposes. The development of the new Victoria rail route in the mid 19th century lead to most of the canal being built over, and by June 1860 the first railway bridge was built over the Thames, providing access to the area which had previously been made up of the canal. It was further reduced by the addition of Victoria platforms 15 to 19. In the year 2000, Westminster Council granted planning permission to redevelop the disused Grosvenor Canal and the Grosvenor Waterside development was born.
The development was intended to be seen as a new cultural hub of Chelsea, combining history, art and urban architecture. The development is centred around a beautiful, tranquil water feature and the 24 hour concierge, underground parking and its close proximity to the Thames have resulted in Grosvenor Waterside becoming a popular, desirable development for purchasers and renters alike. The transport links of Victoria are almost on your doorstep, the shops and restaurants of Chelsea and Belgravia are both within a few minutes’ walk and the wonderful views of the Thames from the Chelsea Embankment are a short stroll away.
City Living London is offering a very smart one bedroom apartment in this fantastic development to the market priced at £450 per week. Stylishly furnished and with a lovely Juliet balcony in the living room, it is an ideal pied-à-terre or London pad for a young professional. The bathroom and kitchen are both in excellent order and there is an onsite gym and health spa located on the ground floor of the building in which the flat is situated.
The property is available immediately for a long term tenancy. For further information or to schedule a viewing please call us on 020 7351 6100.
Bayswater and Notting Hill are some of London’s most architecturally traditional areas populated by culturally diverse residents, including Middle Eastern, American and Greek communities along with the stalwart Notting Hill set. The buildings are predominantly Georgian terraces, often with shared garden squares. Families and young people alike love that the area is rich in green spaces, with a vibrant restaurant community offering a fantastic selection of international dining as well as traditional English pubs. Try heading to the Cypriot Aphrodite Taverna or the popular local Greek restaurant, Halepi, a favourite of Richard Branson. Curry lovers can head down to Masala Zone on Bishops Bridge Road or Khans on Westbourne Grove. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, free to all, are in close proximity to both Bayswater and Notting Hill along with Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. In Hyde Park you will also find the world famous Serpentine Lake and Gallery and it is well known for its annual events, from summer concerts to the yearly Winter Wonderland.
Shopping in the area is dominated by the world-famous Portobello Market and Notting Hill’s surrounding boutiques and Whiteley’s Shopping Centre in Bayswater, London’s first department store, containing many high street brands, food outlets, an Odeon Cinema and its own All Star Lanes bowling alley. The area offers excellent transport links into both The City and The West End with the Central Line servicing Notting Hill Gate and Queensway and the District and Circle lines servicing Notting Hill Gate and Bayswater. Regular buses and super quick access to the M4 and M40 provide routes out of town towards Heathrow Airport, Oxford and the West of the UK.
Current prices in Bayswater and Notting Hill rank as some of highest in the UK, with average prices per square foot increasing by 0.4% over the last 12 months compared to the previous year. Average prices in Bayswater/ Notting Hill and surrounding areas such as Kensington and Holland Park are now 34% higher than they were 5 years ago, while the number of properties on the market has risen by 17% compared to a year ago. Current rent values in the area have fallen slightly by 2% compared to the same period last year. In the first quarter of 2016 the rental values in Bayswater/Notting Hill averaged £721 per week for flats and £1649 per week for houses, with 74% of properties reflecting asking prices of less than £1000 per week.
The government will be holding a referendum on UK membership of the European Union on 23rd June 2016. The effect that this will have on real estate in the UK and the rest of the EU is very much conjecture. However, it is highly unlikely that the outcome of the EU referendum would cause the UK housing market to freeze as a whole. In the first quarter of 2016, any uncertainty regarding the EU referendum has been off-set by pressure from those looking to beat the stamp duty deadline in April related to the 3% stamp duty surcharge on second homes and buy to let properties. The impact is proving to be more intense in the second quarter of 2016 as we approach judgment day. Remaining in the EU will likely result in a stabilisation of the market and we will see the usual influx of wealthy international students in August/September, along with an increase in international corporate tenants. If we leave, on the other hand, we are likely to see a significant period of market destabilisation whilst new international trade agreements are negotiated, with a time frame for tying up such new agreements being up to two years. Further long-lasting uncertainty in the in the UK economy is unlikely to be offset even by the possibility that of the pound becoming weaker and London investment therefore more appealing to overseas buyers.
Regardless the outcome, once the uncertainty clears there will continue to be a market, although possibly more focused on required, as opposed to non-necessary, demand caused by such factors as divorce and the need to up- or downsize.
Lonres is an agent-only website which collates and analyzes data on the Central London property market based on the feedback and information provided by its subscribers. According to their most recent quarterly newsletter, the London’s lettings market has been quieter than expected over the last three months. In the first quarter of 2016, the number of the tenancies agreed in Prime Central London fell by 18% compared to same time last year, whilst the rest of London and its surrounding areas have also shown a decrease in new lets agreed. An increase in renewals is contributing to this decrease in the number of new tenancies agreed which is most likely down to the political uncertainty caused by the EU referendum, due in June, and the subsequent possible unravelling of the market following a Leave vote (please refer to our EU referendum blog)., Agents have seen a significant drop in the number of new applicants and viewings, particularly on the corporate relocation front whilst The City awaits the results of the referendum. Properties at the upper end of the lettings market have attracted fewer applicants and viewings. However, on a positive note properties under £750 per week have shown an increase in demand, with one and two bedroom properties having performed strongly.
More generally, the lowered levels of activity reflect the amount of competing supply across the Prime London market, suggested by the level of investment buying activity seen in new build sectors and second homes. In the first two months of 2016, the number of mortgages completed for buy to let purchases was 26% higher than the same two months of 2015. The majority of the buying activity was concentrated in the market between £500k and £1m. This suggests better rental performance of these properties and higher income yield returns available.
Going forward, the outlook for rental growth over 2016 remains unknown and restrained due to the uncertainty caused by the EU referendum. It is becoming difficult to predict how the market will progress over the rest of the year, however a recent survey by Lonres suggests that 29% of agents believe there will be a rise in achieved rents by the end of 2016, with only 3% expecting rents to increase 5% or more.
Recent reports have shown that the average Londoner spends 60 hours looking for a property every time they move. Trying to book an appointment and then rushing to meet the estate agent after work to view can be time consuming. Tenants can save time and effort when looking for a property by using the internet for virtual property viewings. We have recently come across an article in The Evening Standard advocating a ‘new service’ which is soon to be launched, where property hunters can pay for a trained property assistant to tour properties on their behalf and live stream a video to their phone, tablet or laptop. The service has been developed to take away the stress of viewing properties and costs up to £100 per tour.
However, here at City Living London, we have been carrying out virtual property viewings for a number of years with the use of Skype and Facetime. Some of our potential tenants living overseas, looking to rent in London, prefer this method of viewing a property rather than having to fly into the UK to source their new London home.
But how does it work? What are the costs? The answer is: there are no costs. All that is required is Skype or Facetime. Our experienced negotiators will show you the property and advise on the next steps if you wish to put in an offer. We have received offers through Skype and Facetime and can see this is becoming very popular method with many agents. We also do not believe it is something for which tenants should have to pay. In an expensive London property market, it is important to ensure that tenants’ fees are kept to a minimum.
If you are living overseas and you are about to start searching for a home in London, contact us on 020 7351 6100 and we would be delighted to take you on a virtual tour of any listings which may suit!