Reeds Rains Property Blog

Property News from Reeds Rains

Rental Regional Review

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England

Continuing this year’s trend of rents increasing by more than the rate of inflation, our latest Buy to Let Index shows that June experienced the quickest rise since records began in 2009. 

The average rent in England and Wales has reached a high of £789, that’s up 1.4% on May’s figure and up 5.6% since last June, with nine of the ten regions in England seeing increased annual growth in the last month. The East is experiencing the strongest rises, with rents increasing by nearly 50% more than those in London. These rises are being driven by a lack of stock and an increase in people’s ability to pay higher rents as the economy recovers. 

Adrian Gill, Director of Reeds Rains, comments, “Growing wage packets and a strengthening economy mean that a greater number of tenants are able to afford higher rent but we mustn’t lose sight of the driving force behind rent increases – the mismatch of supply and demand. Expanding our housing stock needs to become a national priority.”

Perhaps giving weight to the argument that an increasing undersupply of housing stock is primarily responsible for current rent levels, our Index (Hyperlink) also shows that the proportion of rent in arrears is continuing to rise. In June it stood at 8.7%, up around one per cent on both May 2015 and June 2014. However, the overall trend across the past five years, despite peaks and troughs, is downward and therefore indicative of a slow and steady economic recovery.

Annual returns have fallen slightly for landlords, from 11.9% in the 12 months to June 2014, to 9.2% for the year to this June. Rental income made up more than half of the total, demonstrating the strength of the rental market and the importance of understanding which is most important to you as an investor, capital growth or income for your Buy to Let profits.

In the face of the latest Budget changes targeting landlords’ profits, it is important to remember that property can still offer consistently good returns. However, Adrian Gill states that if the industry is to continue to thrive in the long term, “there needs to be a greater emphasis on what can be done to help tenants and landlords alike. It’s one thing to slap landlords with a tax and call it a done deal, and quite another to address the issue of housing in a consistent and sustainable way. The cornerstone of progress, as ever, is housebuilding.”

Wales

The rental market in Wales remains steady, with an encouraging one-month increase in rents of 1.9% from May to June. Average rents stand at £567, holding their own against the Midlands and East Midlands, and higher than Yorkshire and the North East.

Unlike the majority of regions in England, yields in Wales have increased slightly in the 12 months to June, currently at 4.5%.

And a reminder that private landlord registration will become obligatory in Wales this Autumn, delivered by Rent Smart Wales. You must register both yourself and the addresses of your rental properties, and if you undertake the letting or management of your properties, you must also become licensed. See https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales/ for full information.

N.Ireland


If you are looking to make energy performance improvements to your rental property, you could cut the amount of tax you pay by claiming the Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance (LESA), which allows you to deduct various insulation and draught-proofing costs.

At the same time, provided you have a valid energy performance certificate (EPC) for your rental property, you can apply for a grant to install renewable heating systems, via the Northern Ireland domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. If your application is successful, you will receive an upfront sum and a payment every year for seven years. To be eligible for the scheme, the system must be biomass, air or ground source heat pumps or solar thermal panels. See http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/domestic-rhi-introduction for more information.

Finding the Right Student Accommodation

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WHEN looking for student accommodation, don't wait until it's too late. As soon as you know where you're studying, find out what accommodation is available to you and what conditions are attached.

If you have only just gone through clearing or have found yourself without a house or flat, don't worry as there will be plenty of private rented accommodation left that will still be available to students. The great thing about private rented properties is independence; you are in charge of where you live and who you are living with, and the flexibility it gives you, as the private rental market is packed with different options to suit you.

However, there are some aspects you need to take into consideration such as managing your bills, and dealing with admin - especially if you are liaising direct with the landlord. You need to check their credentials which is why it is always best to go through a reputable agent.

Once you have secured a property, you will normally have to give a non- refundable financial commitment to reserve a property, so make sure you spend time choosing who you want to live with to ensure a harmonious household.

You will need to go through referencing at which point you will need a guarantor; this is someone who will guarantee the rent and terms of the tenancy should you not be able to.

Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) are jointly and severably liable which basically means that all parties, tenants and guarantors are responsible for the tenancy.

You will be required to pay a holding deposit which will normally be when the lease agreement starts - this usually goes towards the dilapidation deposit for the tenancy. As long as the property is given back in the same condition it was given to you in, then this will be returned. All deposits by law must be registered into a tenancy deposit scheme which will ensure it's safeguarded, so to protect this, make sure an adequate inventory is done prior to move in.

Make sure you receive up-to-date gas and electrical safety certificates as these are required by law; and be prepared to pay the rent monthly in advance and from one account. In terms of your finance, full- time students are exempt from paying council tax but part-time students aren't. You will need to get a TV licence on top of all your bills (water, electric, gas, phone line, internet) so make sure you budget for this before you sign. You will need to be careful wherever you rent as you are a burglar's target; ensure the landlord has fitted key operating locks on the windows and deadlocks on all external doors.

It pays to know a little about tenancies and landlord responsibilities, and likewise, know your obligations as a tenant and respect others that live in the vicinity.

For more information, contact your local branch

By Hannah Davies

Rental Regional Review...

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Housing rules, regulations and policies differ from England to Wales to Northern Ireland and Scotland so please read our regional round-up to see what’s happening in your area.

England 

Our latest Buy to Let Index shows that over the 5-year course of the coalition Government, average rents in England and Wales rose by 15.2% - that’s more-or-less in line with inflation – from £667 per month to £768. The East of England has seen the greatest annual growth, with average rents up by 12%, and a current month-on-month increase of 2.5%. The North West is not far behind with a monthly increase of 2.3% and the rental market in both of these areas reflects buoyant jobs markets.

Tenant finances continue to improve, with arrears down by more than 3% since May 2010 and by 0.2% since last month. Gross yields for landlords are holding steady at 5% and total returns, including price growth, have climbed to 12.2%, an increase of 1.4% on a year ago. The rental market in England appears to be doing well and growing at a steady and sustainable rate.

From April this year, not only has the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) annual exemption amount increased to £11,1001, but the rules for foreign owners of UK residential property that is not their primary residence have changed. They will now have to pay CGT on any gains when they come to sell, bringing them in line with the rules for UK residents. Although this is unlikely to affect most of our landlords, it highlights the fact that tax legislation can change with each Budget. As something that could make a significant difference to your retirement and inheritance planning, you must ensure you are alerted to any tax changes that affect property owners. We will always highlight as much as we can in our newsletters but you should also be in touch with a property tax specialist, who can advise you appropriately for your personal situation.

1 http://www.which.co.uk/money/tax/guides/capital-gains-tax-explained/capital-gains-tax-allowances-and-rates/

Wales 

The rental market in Wales shows average rents were £564 per month in March 2015, a small 0.5% fall versus February, while year on year, rents are static. Average yields are just over 4%2.  

In February the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill was introduced into the National Assembly. If passed, the Bill would replace the current confusing and complex legal lettings framework with a much simpler one. There would be just two tenancy types – one for social housing and one for the private sector – and a number of measures would be introduced to clarify rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants and make the renting process easier. 

The Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee has already received written submissions and heard from Welsh Tenants, who expressed support for the general aims and principles of the Bill. The Committee is continuing its inquiry and will hold oral evidence sessions in the Autumn and we will update you on the next steps. 

2 http://reedsrains.co.uk/blog/post/2015/04/23/March-2015-Buy-to-Let-Index.aspx 

Scotland

Landlords’ total annual returns hit a record high in Scotland for the 12 months to March 2015, with an average of 9.7%, equivalent to £15,000 per property (before mortgage and maintenance costs, but accounting for price growth and voids) – an increase of 1.5% on a year earlier. Edinburgh saw the strongest gross annual returns, at 13.4%, equivalent to £27,135.

Average rents in Scotland as a whole are rising steadily, up by 1.3% in the year to March 2015, an improvement on the 1.1% annual rise recorded for February. The Glasgow & Clyde region saw the biggest annual rent increase, at 3.6%, followed by Edinburgh & the Lothians, at 2.3%, but the Highlands & Islands suffered a drop of 1.9% from March 2014.  The average rent for Scotland is £539.

Nevertheless, the picture is encouraging. Adrian Gill from Reeds Rains comments: “Landlords are seeing higher returns than ever and it is capital gains that have done the majority of the legwork, as the new transaction tax has put the foot on the accelerator of property prices lately. Rent rises are strolling forward at more of a leisurely pace, ensuring tenants can sit comfortably, but gross rental yields are robustly staying the course regardless.” 

For landlords in Dundee, Shelter Scotland is looking to fund a project to promote higher renting standards within the city’s PRS, targeting landlords who are operating below ‘best practice’ guidelines but not causing enough concern to merit formal enforcement action. They want a private renting support officer to be tasked with giving advice and working with landlords, tenants and intermediaries to promote better understanding of the sector and suggest how day-to-day practice could be improved. If given the green light, the project could start in October and run for two-and-a-half years.

Northern Ireland 

Each of the different areas across the UK (England, Scotland and Wales) has their own housing policies and Northern Ireland is no exception. So if you are considering buying a Buy to Let property in Northern Ireland, one of the first things you need to know is you will need a Landlord License to secure your Certificate of Registration. The number on this certificate needs to be included in any communication you have as a landlord, especially with your tenant. 

It will cost you £70 to register online, £10 more for paper, and the registration lasts for three years. 

You will have to give a lot of details about yourself to register, to make sure you are a legitimate landlord, including your name, email, mobile number, date of birth and company registration number, plus details of any agent acting on your behalf. 

Need to know how landlord licensing affects you while working with Reeds Rains? Do call 0845 450 0865*, email Landlords@ReedsRains.co.uk or visit your local Reeds Rains branch to find out more and make sure you are abiding by the law. 

Rental Regional Review...

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England 

The housing market as a whole has recovered well since the credit crunch, with the average house price now standing at just over £34,000 higher than the previous peak in February 2008, according to our own Reeds Rains property price indices. Although the average price growth in London has dropped, due to revised Stamp Duty Land Tax and the pre-election threat of ‘mansion tax’ affecting the top end of the market, the lower rungs of the property ladder are thriving, particularly in the east of the capital. Newham, Dagenham, Bexley and Waltham Forest have all seen rises of well in excess of 15% in the past 12 months, a stark contract to Kensington & Chelsea, where values have dropped by an average 7.4%.

Still in London, the Greater London Authority’s Rental Standard scheme has been a tremendous success, with over 14,000 private landlords and more than 300 letting and managing agent firms having signed up, as of mid-March. As early adopters of the scheme, our branches all display the LRS badge that reassures tenants they’re renting from a responsible agent. Find out more here.

Liverpool

Measures to improve standards in the PRS in the north of England have recently been implemented in two of its major cities. Firstly, Liverpool Council has introduced a mandatory Landlord Licensing Scheme, requiring all private landlords to apply for a five-year licence for each of their rented properties from 1st April. Landlords must satisfy the council that they are a ‘fit and proper’ person to manage their properties, as well as meet certain conditions relating to health and safety and handling complaints about anti-social behaviour by their tenants. The licence costs £400 for the first property and £350 for each additional property, with landlords who are already members of a council-approved accreditation or regulation scheme receiving a discount and paying just £200. Visit Liverpool City Council’s website for more information. 

Manchester

And in Manchester, the council has recently introduced a Renting Pledge as an alternative to licensing. It is a simple set of standards that landlords can sign up to, to demonstrate that they are responsible and provide a good standard of home for tenants. Tenants of these landlords will also be required to make a pledge to pay their rent on time, look after the property and be a good neighbour. All the key professional associations, including ARLA, RLA and NALS have already signed up and the scheme has been generally well received in a city where 27% of residents live within the PRS. Visit Manchester’s local authority website for more information.

Wales

The average rent across England and Wales is 3.1% higher than February last year, the biggest year on year increase seen in the last two years according to our latest Buy to Let Index from Reeds Rains. Average rents in Wales were £566 per month, which was one of the highest increases of 1.8% year on year. Average yields remained at 4.3%, which is just below the average of 5% yield for England and Wales.

Oliver Blake, Managing Director  of  Reeds Rains, comments: “The  rental  sector  is  carrying  the weight  of  the  housing  crisis. More homes are  needed  to house  an  ever growing population. The supply simply isn’t there. The result is that landlords are catering to those who can’t afford to buy as well as those who choose renting for the flexibility it offers them workers moving into new jobs, or people wanting to get a feel for an area before committing to property ownership and setting down roots.”

Northern Ireland

According to the ‘Northern Ireland Quarterly House Price Index’ 2014 was a “journey back to a more normal housing market” with steady growth returning in both sales and prices – with the latter increasing by over 8%, suggesting 2013 was the year property prices bottomed out. 

Price wise, the average price ended up at £143,675 at the end of the year, much higher than the £133,000 it was the previous year and showing a pick-up in prices versus the last quarter too. Semi-detached bungalows and apartments grew at highest levels, breaking double digit growth, while terraces and townhouses rose by less than 3%. 

Belfast and areas such as Derry/Strabane saw the highest market rise at 14% year on year, while most other areas saw prices rise between 5 and 10%, with the exception of Antrim/Ballymena where prices actually fell just under 5%. 

Rental income wise, we are seeing rents stable to rising over the last 12 months. 

Ryan Andrews, Director of Reeds Rains Northern Ireland explains “We have noticed in recent months the return of chains to the marketplace which is due to more and more houses being sold at a higher level than previous years.” Ryan believes “this is a really positive sign which has been helped by the recent changes in stamp duty, with some excellent savings to be made especially in the £250,000-£300,000 bracket.” 

From the Buy to Let investors perspective, “the market is strong and lots of investors want to purchase before house prices rise any further.” 

For more information about the property market in Northern Ireland, please do visit one of our offices, call 0845 450 0865* or email Landlords@ReedsRains.co.uk. For the full property price update from Ulster University, read their Housing Index.

Q1 2015 - Landlord Survey Results

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Landlords predict rent rises to tail off

  • UK landlords expect annual rent growth to slow to 1.7% by next year, down from 3.7% currently
  • Finding trustworthy tenants deemed more important to landlords than higher rental yields
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of landlords want to purchase additional rental properties this year
  • Three in five landlords (60%) think it is a good time to invest in buy-to-let, up from 54% six months ago
  • More than a fifth of landlords (22%) find their buy-to-let mortgage payments cheaper than a year ago

After a recent spurt of rent growth, landlords anticipate that rent rises will taper off over the next twelve months, according to a sentiment survey of more than 1,200 landlords conducted by Your Move and Reeds Rains, the UK's largest lettings agent network.

On average UK landlords anticipate that rents will increase by 1.7% in the coming year, a sharp slowdown from the current rate of annual rent growth to a steadier trajectory. According to the latest Buy-to-Let Index from Your Move and Reeds Rains, average  residential rents across the UK climbed 3.7% in the year to March 2015, the fastest pace for two years.

The proportion of landlords who will not raise their rents in the next twelve months has increased from 56% in September 2014 to 60% currently. Only a minority of four in ten landlords (40%) intend to increase their rental prices before March 2016. 

Read the full report here.

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