Kate's top 5 stories this week including - Landlords losing out and Right-to-buy vs Social Housing

publication date: Dec 15, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Join Now

My top stories with 10 days to go until Christmas!

Story 1

Landlords are losing out because of severe court delays

County court delays in processing possession claims, notice of issues and bailiff appointments are becoming a huge problem due to under-resourcing, with serious financial consequences for landlords. According to Landlord Action, government cuts, a 15% rise in possession cases and more courts insisting that bailiffs act in pairs have all meant that the eviction process is seriously slowed down.

As a result, landlords are losing substantial sums in unpaid rent but also having to stump up for legal fees for ever-longer periods due to the delays, and in extreme cases face repossession themselves.

Ms Herbert of Landlord Action said, “By the courts' own admission, cases are getting overlooked, administrative errors are being made and there are simply not enough bailiffs to support the number of cases, leading to long delays.”

Tenants who make a last-minute application because they have no alternative accommodation, once a possession order has been granted and a bailiff appointment established, usually results in a hearing being called, delaying matters by two or three months, and even then the judge dismisses the application as having no merit.

Kate’s thoughts:

Buy to let is currently being ‘pushed’ as an alternative to pensions and it’s things like this that highlight the huge difference between the two. Pension income is typically ‘guaranteed’ and index linked. Rents not only rarely keep up with inflation, but are also not guaranteed, add in the extra stress and complication of legal action and it’s clear that just relying on one or two properties to bring in rental income isn’t necessarily a substitute for pension income.

For more information, go to Landlord Action

Read - Will your property deliver a retire income from Chase de Vere


Story 2

Place-making is back at the heart of planning new communities

The TCPA’s (Town & Country Planning Association) Chief Executive, Kate Henderson has welcomed cross-party political support for the organisation’s proposed amendments to bring the New Towns regulation into line with 21st century expectations.

She added, “We now need all political parties to recognise that the task of bringing forward large-scale new communities will require dedicated Development Corporations to manage the delivery over a generation…. and the Infrastructure Bill provides a key opportunity to do this.”

The TCPA recently set out its proposed amendments to the Infrastructure Bill concerning the purpose of new towns and urban development corporations, including new and positive objections for new towns development corporations and creating general commitment to sustainable development, besides an TCPA

Kate’s thoughts: 

It took new towns to bail us out during the last population growth and it’ll take another set of new towns to get us out of the mess MPs, councils and planners have left us in because not enough homes have been built to house our growing population. Let us hope they are as successful as areas like Telford and Milton Keynes have been which really helped house people from Birmingham and London.

Read - Choosing the perfect home 


Story 3

DIY repairs can hammer down your property’s price

The government-endorsed trading scheme Trustmark has evidence that badly-done house repairs can chip off as much as 11% from a property’s value, up to £24,000 for an average three-bed home. They discovered that 50% of buyers would drop out, and 90% would lower their offer, when confronted with poor home ‘improvements’.

Recent publicity about unmanageably high funeral costs has also revealed that, in the wake of a 30% rise in funeral costs since 2004, around 20% of bereaved relatives cannot meet the average cost of £1,200, far less the £6,000 plus in some UK counties.

This is potentially leading to a rise in home burials which saves expense at the time, but in the long term could take 20%, or as much as an average of £43,755, off the property’s value. Home burials are legal although certain regulations must be observed, such as the plot being owned by the deceased’s family. However, evidence suggests that if the property in question is likely to be sold in future, then laying former occupants to rest in the back garden may well drop value considerably, besides inviting possible difficulties with local authorities such as answering potential murder charges or digging up the remains when moving house.

Kate’s thoughts: 

I have never seen property prices vary so much from one property on a street to another. It’s really clear that buyers, paying lots for a property are more discerning in today’s market. A great property, which is in a good location, near great schools and in super condition will fetch more than one which has been poorly maintained and has an anomaly such as bodies buried in the garden! Future sellers need to think carefully about changes to their property and the impact this may have on prices before continuing.

Read - Home maintenance quick guide


Story 4

Lincoln properties are good value for money

With house prices increasing by 6.5% each year, adding roughly £8,000 more to the average value of £128,668, Lincolnshire is enjoying a new confidence in the market. Buyers are paying more than 2013, but prices are still 12% lower than in 2008 and since the average price only just pips the 1% stamp duty threshold of £125,000, properties of all types are really good value.

Barratt Homes North Midlands are responding to growth by sponsoring 25 new apprenticeships in the area, and Savills say the future is bright for prime property prices, which they predict will rise by 20% by 2019. New homes are taking over from renovation projects increasingly, and buyers are also more likely to ask about running costs.

According to Belvoir, rents in Lincoln, at £532 monthly, are only £4 more than last year and remain quite static, therefore good value for tenants. Landlords need to continue to maintain their rental properties well, though, to maintain income. Belvoir Lettings suggest that the rental market is buoyant with more tenants than landlords, but both landlords and tenants need to check any agent’s credentials carefully so they are protected by a code of practice and client money protection. To read more, go to Lincs Business

Kate’s thoughts:

This article for Lincolnite shows that it’s essential to find the right local professional to help you. Not only is there not ‘one property market’ for the UK or even England, but within each area there are different markets acting in diverse ways – knowing who to turn to is essential.

Read - First time buyer quick guide


Story 5

Right-to-buy surge racks up pressure on social housing

Local authorities are setting up private rental companies to protect declining supplies of social housing from the ‘gold rush’ caused by the government’s increased discount, from 2012, on local authority accommodation. Sales have rocketed by 500% from 2,368 in 2012-2013 to 11,929 in 2013-14 and mean that tenants are often paying extravagantly increased rents, with some made homeless.

Boroughs such as Enfield have lost 50% of council houses despite increasing numbers seeking accommodation, and to counter this have established a wholly-owned private company whose homes are exempt from right-to-buy. Sheffield, Sutton and Ealing have followed the same path, and Labour MP Gareth Thomas said he hoped this new model would also lead to an increase in ’co-operative’ homes, where housing blocks owned by a private company are run and managed by tenants, and added that “the next mayor of London needs to consider setting up a London housing company to help build high-quality social housing, particularly co-operative housing of the sort found on London’s South Bank.”

Kate’s thoughts

It’s essential during the next election that MPs and political parties get themselves sorted when it comes to social and affordable homes. The idea that we can sell off existing council homes and magically build new ones to compensate has clearly failed. Selling off social homes rented at typically half the local private rent isn’t a solution – it just worsens the problem.

To read more, go to the Guardian.

Read - Buying or Renting

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
This website is Copyright © Designs on Property Ltd and Propertychecklists.co.uk protected under UK and international law.