Category Archives: Peterborough Branch

£567.53pm – The Profit made by every Peterborough Property Owner over the last 20 years

As we go headlong into 2018, I believe UK interest rates will stay low, even with the additional 0.25% increase that is expected in May or June. That rise will add just over £20 to the typical £160,000 tracker mortgage, although with 57.1% of all borrowers on fixed rates, it will probably go undetected by most buy-to-let landlords and homeowners. I forecast that we won’t see any more interest rate rises due to the fragile nature of the British economy and the Brexit challenge. Even though mortgages will remain inexpensive, with retail price inflation outstripping salary rises, it will still very much feel like a heavy weight to some Peterborough households. 

Now it’s certain the Peterborough housing market in 2017 was a little more subdued than 2016 and that will continue into 2018. Property ownership is a medium to long-term investment so looking at that long-term time frame; the average Peterborough homeowner who bought their property 20 years ago has seen its value rise by more than 243%.

This is important, as house prices are a national obsession and tied into the health of the UK economy as a whole. The majority of that historic gain in Peterborough property values has come from property market growth, although some of that will have been added by homeowners modernising, extending or developing their Peterborough home.

Taking a look at the different property types in Peterborough and the profit made by each type, it makes interesting reading..

However, I want to put aside all that historic growth and profit and looking forward to what will happen in the future. I want to look at the factors that could affect future Peterborough (and the Country’s) house price growth/profit; one important factor has to be the building of new homes both locally and in the country as a whole. This has picked up in 2017 with 217,350 homes coming on to the UK housing ladder in the last year (a 15% increase on the previous year’s figures of 189,690. However, Philip Hammond has set a target of 300,000 a year, so still plenty to go!

Another factor that will affect property prices is my prediction that the balance of power between Peterborough buy-to-let landlords and Peterborough first-time buyers should tip more towards the local first-time buyers in 2018.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders expects the number of buy to let mortgages to drop by 34% from levels seen in 2015. This is because of taxes being increased recently on buy-to-let and harder lending criteria for buy to let mortgages, which means I foresee a gradual move in the balance of power in favour of first-time buyers rather than buy-to-let landlords. First time buyers will also be helped by The Chancellor eradicating Stamp Duty for all properties up to £300,000 bought by first-time buyers in the recent budget.

This means Peterborough buy-to-let landlords will have to work smarter in the future to continue to make decent returns (profits) from their Peterborough buy-to-let investment. Even with the tempering of house price inflation in Peterborough in 2017, most Peterborough buy to let landlords (and homeowners) are still sitting on a copious amount of growth from previous years.

The question is, how do you, as a Peterborough buy to let landlord ensure that continues?

Since the 1990’s, making money from investing in buy-to-let property was as easy as falling off a log. Looking forward though, with all the changes in the tax regime and balance of power, making those similar levels of return in the future won’t be as easy. Over the last ten years, I have seen the role of the forward thinking letting agents evolve from a ‘rent collector’ and basic property management to a more holistic role, or as I call it, ‘landlord portfolio strategic leadership’. Thankfully, along with myself, there are a handful of letting agents in Peterborough whom I would consider exemplary at this landlord portfolio strategy where they can give you a balanced structured overview of your short, medium and long-term goals, in relation to your required return on investment, yield and capital growth requirements. If you would like such advice, speak with your current agent – or whether you are a landlord of ours or not – without any cost or commitment, feel free to drop me a line.

With Peterborough Annual Property Values 7.8% Higher, This is My 2018 Forecast

Looking at the newspapers between Christmas and New Year, it seemed that this year’s sport in the column inches was to predict the future of the British housing market. So to go along with that these are my thoughts on the Peterborough property market.

With the average 5-year fixed rate mortgage at 1.98% (down from 3.47% in 2014) and 2-year fixed rate at 1.47% (down from 2.37% in 2014), mortgage interest rates offered by lenders are at an all-time low (even with the slight increase on the Bank of England base rate a few months ago). Added to this, there has been a low unemployment rate of 4.9% in Peterborough, which has contributed to maintain a decent level demand for property in Peterborough in 2017 (interestingly – an impressive 3,452 Peterborough properties were sold in last 12 months), whilst finally, the number of properties for sale in the city has remained limited, thus providing support for Peterborough house prices, meaning …

Peterborough Property Values are 7.8% higher than a year ago

However, moving into 2018, there will be greater pressures on people’s incomes as inflation starts to eat into real wage packet growth, which will wield a snowballing strain on consumer confidence. Interestingly though, information from the website Rightmove suggested over a third of property it had on its books in October and November had their asking prices reduced, the highest percentage of asking price reductions in the same time frame, over five years. Still, a lot of that could have been house-sellers being overly optimistic with their initial pricing.

In terms of what will happen to Peterborough property values in the next 12 months, a lot will be contingent on the type of Brexit we have and the impact on the whole of the UK economy. A lot of people will talk about the Central London property market in the coming year, and if the banking and finance sectors are negatively affected with a poor Brexit deal, then the London market is likely to see more of an impact.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is Peterborough homeowners and Peterborough landlords should be aware of what happens in the roller-coaster housing market of Central London, but not panic if prices do drop suddenly there in 2018. Over the last 8 years, the Central London property market has been in a world of its own (Central London house prices have grown by 89.6% in those last 8 years, whilst in Peterborough, they have only risen by 38.3%). So we might see a heavy correction in the Capital, whilst more locally, something a little more subdued.

Hindsight is always better than foresight and predicting anything economic is all well and good when you know what is around the corner. At least we have the Brexit divorce settlement sorted and, as the UK economy and the UK housing market are intertwined, it all depends on how we deal as a Country with the Brexit issue. However, we have been through the global financial crisis reasonably intact … I am sure we can get through this together as well?

Oh, and house prices in Peterborough over the next 12 months? I believe they will end up between 0.2% lower and 1.2% higher, although it will probably be a bumpy ride to get to those sorts of figures.


My thoughts on the future of the Peterborough Buy-To-Let Market

I was recently reading a report by the Home website which suggested that hordes of landlords are selling their buy-to-let investments due to increasing burdens on them in the buy-to-let market. Their findings suggest the number of new properties that came onto the market nationally (for sale) jumped by 11% across the UK as a result.

Those increasing burdens include new tax rules coming in over the next 3 to 4 years and the announcement that all self-managing landlords (i.e. landlords that don’t use a letting agent to look after their buy-to-let property) will soon need to register with a compulsory redress scheme to resolve tenant arguments and disputes; as Westminster wants to heighten standards in the Private Rented Sector.

Interestingly I was chatting with a self-managed landlord from Glinton, when I was out socially over the festive period, who didn’t realise the other recent legislations that have hit the Private Rented sector, including the ‘Right to Rent’ regulations which came in to operation last year. Landlords have to certify their tenants have the legal right to live in the UK. This includes checking and taking copies of their tenant’s passport or visa before the tenancy is signed. Of course, if you use a letting agent to manage your property, they will usually sort this for you (as they will with the redress scheme when that is implemented).

If you are a self-managed landlord though, the consequences are severe because if you let a property to a tenant who is living in the UK illegally, you will be fined up to £3,000. That same Glinton landlord popped into my offices in the New Year, and I checked all his paperwork and ensured he was on the right side of the law going forward – and I offer the same to any landlord in the Peterborough area if you want me to cast my eye over your buy to let matters (and at no cost – ok just bring in some chocolates for the girls in the office!)

But what of all these extra properties being dumped onto the market in Peterborough? When I looked at the records the number of properties on the market in Peterborough now, as opposed to a year ago, the numbers tell an interesting story …

Overall, Peterborough doesn’t match the national trend, with the number of properties on the market actually remaining the same in the last year. Although, having said that it was particularly interesting to see the number of semis increase by 18% and the number of terraced on the market drop by 29%.

However, speaking with my team and other property professionals in the city, the majority of that movement in the number of properties and the types of properties on the market isn’t down to landlords dumping their properties on the market. The whole property market has changed in the last 12 months, with the majority of the change in the number and type of properties for sale due to the owner-occupier market, not landlords (a subject I will write about soon in my Peterborough Property Market blog later this Spring?). You see, for the last ten years, each month there has always been a small number of Peterborough landlords who have been releasing their monies from their Peterborough buy to let properties – as is the nature of all investments!

Nationally, the number of rental properties coming on to the market to rent fell by 16% in Q4 2017 compared to Q4 2016 .. but that isn’t because there are 16% less rental properties to rent – it’s because tenants are staying in their rental properties longer meaning less are coming on the market to be RE-LET.

Nevertheless, some Peterborough landlords will want to release the equity held in their Peterborough buy to let properties in 2018. All I suggest is that you speak with your letting agent first, as putting a rental property on the open market often spooks the tenants to hand in their notice days after you put it on the market (because they don’t like the uncertainty and also believe they will become homeless!). This means you have an empty property, costing you money with no rent coming in. However, some letting agents who specialise in portfolio management have select lists of landlords that will buy with sitting tenants in. If you have a portfolio in the Peterborough area and are considering selling some or all of them – drop me a line as I might have a portfolio landlord for you (with the peace of mind that you won’t have any rental voids).

Youngsters unable to buy their first home in Peterborough – Are the Baby Boomers and Landlords to Blame?

Talk to many Peterborough 20 something’s, where home ownership has looked but a vague dream, many of them have been vexatious towards the Baby Boomer generation and their pushover ‘easy go lucky’ walk through life; jealous of their free university education with grants, their eye watering property windfalls, their golden final salary pensions and their free bus passes.

If you had bought a property in Peterborough for say £15,000 in first quarter of 1977, today it would be worth £285,225, a windfall increase of 1801.5%.

But to blame the 60 and 70 year olds of Peterborough for that sort of rise seems a little unfair, with the value of the homes rising like rocket, I don’t believe they can be censured or made liable for that. A few weeks ago, I discussed in my blog the number of people in the Peterborough area who have two or more spare bedrooms (meaning they are under-occupying the house). I see many mature members of Peterborough society, rattling around in large 4/5 bed houses where the kids have flown the nest years ago … but should they be blamed?

We are all just human, and the mature members of UK society have just reacted to the inducements of our property and tax system. The mature generations who joined the property market party in the 1970’s and 1980’s were able to take out huge mortgages, protected in the knowledge that inflation would corrode the real value of the mortgage, while wage gains would boost their ability to repay.

Neither do I directly blame the multitude of Peterborough buy to let landlords, buying up their 10th or 11th property to add to their buy to let empire. They too, are humbly reacting to the peculiar historic inducements of the UK property market.

So, who is to blame?

Well, hyperinflation in the 1970’s meant the real value of people’s mortgages was whipped out (as mentioned above). Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson are also good people to blame with Maggie selling off millions of council houses and Nigel Lawson’s delayed ending of the MIRAS tax relief in 1987; meaning he too can get his share of indignation. The Blair/Brown combo doubled stamp duty in 1997 and again in 2000, which, as a tax on property transactions, precludes a more efficient distribution of the current housing stock. The Government has had plenty of opportunity to change the draconian stamp duty rules to incentivise those mature Peterborough house movers to downsize.

However, I have started to see over the last few years a change in Government policy towards housing. The new breed of Peterborough buy to let landlords that have come about since the Millennium, have had their wings clipped over the last couple of years, with the introduction of new tax rules (meaning it is slightly more difficult to make money out of property unless you have all the national information and Peterborough property trends to hand).

It’s easy to think the only reason that hundreds of first time buyers have been priced out of the Peterborough housing market is because of these landlords. Yet, I believe landlords have been undervalued with the Peterborough homes they provide for Peterborough people. With first time buyers struggling to save for a deposit, if it weren’t for those landlords buying up those homes over the last 10/15 years, we would have a bigger housing crisis than we have today. Since the global financial crisis of 2008/9, local councils have had to cut services, so certainly didn’t have enough money to build new homes … homes that were provided to Peterborough by these buy to let landlords.

One side of the argument is that 871 homes are being bought up by buy to let landlords each year in the Peterborough City Council area when otherwise they might have become available to other buyers, the other side of the argument is the current national average deposit is £51,800, which is, by far, the greatest barrier to those wanting to buy their first home. Those homes bought by local buy to let landlords are not left idle, as they equate to 6,096 of new homes for local people, most of whom who see renting as a better option because of the choice, the simplicity and the flexibility which renting brings.

In the 60’s/70’/80’s, the traditional thoughts that you were a failure unless you owned your own home have now all but disappeared, because if you ask many young people, they would probably say renting was the perfect option for them at certain times of their life.

Peterborough Apartments are 14.2% more affordable than 10 years ago

My research shows that certain types of Peterborough property are more affordable today than before the 2007 credit crunch.

Roll the clock back to 2007 just before the credit crunch hit which saw Peterborough property values plummet like a lead balloon and the Peterborough property market had reached a peak with the prices for Peterborough property hitting the highest level they had ever reached. Between 2008 and 2010, Peterborough property values lay in the doldrums and only started to rise in 2011, albeit quite slowly to begin with.

Nevertheless, even though property values have now passed those 2007 peaks, my research indicates that Peterborough property, especially flats/apartments, are now more affordable than they were before the 2008 credit crunch.

Back in 2007, the average value of a Peterborough flat/apartment stood at £108,724 and today, it stands at £121,528, a rise of £12,804 or 11.8%.

However, between 2007 and today, we have experienced inflation (as measured by the Government’s Consumer Price Index) of 25.97% meaning that in real spending power terms Peterborough apartments are 14.2% more affordable than in 2007. Looking at it another way, if the average Peterborough apartment (valued at £108,724 in 2007) had risen by 25.97% inflation over those 10 years, today it would be worth £136,960 (instead of the current £121,528).

The point I’m trying to get across is that Peterborough property is more affordable than many people think. Peterborough first time buyers can get on the ladder as 95% mortgages have been readily available to first-time buyers since 2010.

It really comes down to a choice and if Peterborough first-time buyers can get over the hurdle of saving the 5% deposit for the mortgage on the property – they will be on to a winner, especially with these ultralow mortgage interest rates, a mortgage can be between 10% and 30% cheaper per month than the rental payments on the same house.

So why aren’t Peterborough 20 somethings buying their own home?

Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, renting was considered the poor man’s choice in Peterborough (and the rest of the Country) a huge stigma was attached to renting. However, over the last 10 years as a country, we have done a complete U-turn in our attitude towards renting – meaning that many people find renting a better option and a lifestyle choice.

Saving the 5% deposit means going without many luxuries in life (such as holidays, every satellite movie and sports channel, socialising or the latest mobile phone – even if only in the short term) therefore instead of saving every last pound to put towards a mortgage deposit Peterborough 20 somethings choose to rent.

There is no denying the simple fact that over the next 10 to 15 years, the people who choose to rent instead of buy in Peterborough will continue to rise.

Therefore, everyone in Peterborough has a responsibility to ensure that an adequate number of quality Peterborough rental properties are safeguarded to meet those future demands. Interestingly, what I have noticed though over the last few years are the expectations of Peterborough tenants on the finish and specification of their Peterborough rental property.

I have perceived that in the past, what a tenant wanted from their Peterborough rental property was moderately unassuming because renting a property was only a short-term choice to fill the gap before jumping on the property ladder. Before the millennium, wood chip wall paper and twenty-year-old kitchen and bathroom suites were considered the norm.

However, Peterborough tenants’ expectations are becoming more discerning as each year goes by. I have also noticed the length of time a tenant remains in their Peterborough property is becoming longer (and this was backed up recently by stats from a Government Report), although I have noticed a tendency for many Peterborough landlords not to keep the rental payments at the going market rates – maybe a topic for a future article for my blog?

The bottom line is this … Peterborough landlords will need to be more conscious of tenants needs and wants and consider their financial planning for future enhancements to their Peterborough rental properties over the next five, ten and twenty years – e.g. decorating, kitchen and bathroom suites etc etc ..

The present-day and future situation of the Peterborough private rental property market is important, and I frequently liaise with Peterborough buy-to-let investors looking to spread their Peterborough rental-portfolios. I also enjoy meeting and working alongside Peterborough first time landlords, to ensure they can navigate through the minefield of rental voids, the important balance of capital growth and yield and ensuring the property is returned back to you in the future in the best possible condition.

Peterborough Property Market and Hammond’s Budget Promise to Build 300,000 more homes

I miss the good old days of George Osborne as Chancellor, with his hardhat and hi-vis jacket. He must have visited every new home building site in the UK with his trademark attire! For the last few years, the nearest Philip Hammond got to donning a ‘Bob the Builder’ outfit was at his grandchild’s birthday party. However, with what appears to be a change in focus by the Tories to ensure they get back in power in 2022, they appear to have fallen in love with house building again with the Chancellor’s promise to create 300,000 new households in a year.

Nationally, the number of new homes created has topped 217,344 in the last year, the highest since the financial crash of 2007/8. Looking closer to home: in total there were 1,201 ‘net additional dwellings’ in the last 12 months in the Peterborough City Council area, a meagre increase of just 10% on the 2010 figure.

The figures show that 66% of this additional housing was down to new build properties. In total, there were 791 new dwellings built over the last year in Peterborough. In addition, there were 407 additional dwellings created from converting commercial or office buildings into residential property and a further 5 dwellings were added as a result of converting houses into flats.

While these all added to the total housing stock in the Peterborough area, there were 2 demolitions to take into account.

I was encouraged to see some of the new households in the Peterborough area had come from a change of use. The planning laws were changed a few years back so that, in certain circumstances, owners of properties didn’t need planning permission to change office space in to residential use.

With the scarcity of building land available locally (or the builders being very slow to build on what they have, for fear of flooding the market), it was pleasing to see the number of developers that had reutilised vacant office space into residential homes in the local council area. Converting offices and shops to residential use will be vital in helping to solve the Peterborough housing crisis especially, as you can see on the graph, that the level of building has hardly been spectacular over the last seven years!

Now we have had the autumn budget, Theresa May and Philip Hammond have set out their stall with housing as their key focus. I was glad to see the Government introducing a variety of changes to improve housing, including more funding for the supply side and an injection of urgency into the planning system.

The biggest question is, just where are the Government going to build all these new houses? Maybe a topic for a future article?

Back to the main point though and the focus on the housing market by the Tory’s is good news for all homeowners and buy to let landlords, as it will encourage more fluidity in the market in the longer term, sharing the wealth and benefits of homeownership for all. However, in the short term, demand still outstrips supply for homes and that will mean continued upward pressures on rents for tenants.

Rents Set to Rise

Peterborough Rents Set to Rise to £740 pm in Next 5 Years

Rents Set to Rise

It’s now been a good 12/18 months since annual rental price inflation in Peterborough peaked at 3.3%. Since then we have seen increasingly more humble rent increases. In fact, in certain parts of the Peterborough rental market over the autumn, the rental market saw some slight falls in rents. So, could this be the earliest indication that the trend of high rent increases seen over the last few years, may now be starting to buck that trend?

Well, possibly in the short term, but in the coming few years, it is my opinion Peterborough rents will regain their upward trend and continue to increase as demand for Peterborough rental property will outstrip supply, and this is why.

The only counterbalance to that improved rental growth would be to meaningfully increase rental stock (i.e. the number of rental properties in Peterborough). However, because of the Government’s new taxes on landlords being introduced between 2017 and 2021, that means buy-to-let has (and will) be less attractive in the short term for certain types of landlords (meaning less new properties will be bought to let out).

Interestingly, countless market experts assumed at the start of 2017, that the number of rental properties would in fact drop throughout the year. The assumption being as the new tax rules for landlords started to kick in, landlords looked to kick their tenants out, sell up and invest their capital elsewhere. (Although ironically that would lower supply of rental properties, decreasing the supply, meaning rents would increase again!).

Anecdotal evidence suggests, confirmed by my discussions with fellow property, accountancy and banking professionals in Peterborough, that Peterborough landlords are (instead of selling up on masse), actually either (1) re-mortgaging their Peterborough buy-to-let properties instead or (2) converting their rental portfolios into limited companies to side step the new taxation rules.

The sentiment of many Peterborough landlords is that property has always weathered the many stock market crashes and runs in the last 50 years. There is something inheritably understandable about bricks and mortar – compared to the voodoo magic of the stock market and other exotic investment vehicles like debentures and crypto-currency (e.g. BitCoin).

Remarkably, there is some good news for tenants, as Tory’s recently published the draft Tenants’ Fee Bill, which is designed to prohibit the charging of tenants lettings fees on set up of the tenancy. However, looking at evidence in Scotland, I expect rents to rise to compensate landlords, thus hammering faithful tenants looking for long-term tenancy agreements the hardest. This growth will be on top of any usual organic rent growth. It really is swings and roundabouts!

So, what does this all mean for landlords and tenants in Peterborough? In my considered opinion,

Rents in Peterborough over the next 5 years will rise by 8.9%, taking the average rent for a Peterborough property from £680 per month to £740 per month.

To put all that into perspective though, rents in Peterborough over the last 12 years have risen by 20.7%. In fact, that rise won’t be a straight-line growth either, because I have to take into account the national and local Peterborough economy, demand and supply of rental property, interest rates, Brexit and other external factors. Please see the graph for my projections

Rent Rise Graph

In the past, making money from Peterborough buy-to-let property was as easy as falling off a log. But with these new tax rules, new rental regulations and the overall changing dynamics of the Peterborough property market, as a Peterborough landlord, you are going to need work smarter and have every piece of information, advice and opinion to hand on the Peterborough, Regional and National property market’s, to enable you to continue to make money.

Election Manifesto – The Impact on Private Rental Sector



With the General Election just a week away, you may be wondering exactly what each of the three main political parties are proposing for the Private Rental Sector and how it might affect you if they were to win. To help you gain some clarity, which may potentially help you choose where to cast your vote, we’ve looked at what each of their manifestos have to say about their plans for the rental market.

Whilst many of their intentions are noble and could greatly benefit many tenants, unfortunately none of the parties appear to be making plans that will please many landlords.


In its manifesto entitled Forward Together,’ the Conservative party confirms that it will continue with the ban on letting agent fees but is otherwise light on detail and content with regards the Private Rental Sector, saying only that it intends to:-

Improve protections for those who rent, including by looking at how we increase security for good tenants and encourage landlords to offer longer tenancies as standard.

Compared to Labour and the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives are offering fewer policy pledges aimed at the PRS but in other areas of its manifesto, they propose to:-

  • Reform and modernise the home-buying process so it is more efficient and less costly.
  • Crack down on unfair practices in leasehold, such as escalating ground rents.
  • Halve rough sleeping over the course of the parliament and eliminate it

altogether by 2027

  • Set up a new homelessness reduction taskforce on prevention and affordable housing
  • Pilot a Housing First approach to tackle rough sleeping

The party recognises that not enough homes have been built in this country for generations and that both buying and renting has become increasingly unaffordable. As a result, they plan to fix the dysfunctional housing market so that housing is more affordable and people have the security they need to plan for the future. The key part of their plan is to build enough homes to meet demand as they hope this will slow the rise in house prices and bring the cost of renting down, so in the long-term it could mean rents will stabilise or even reduce.

To achieve this, the Conservatives say they will:

  • Meet their 2015 commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020 and deliver half a million more by end of 2022
  • Free up more land for new homes in the right places and speed up the process
  • Build better houses to match the quality of those inherited from previous generations
  • Support high-quality, high-density housing like mansion blocks, mews houses and terraced streets
  • Build 160,000 houses on government land
  • Support specialist housing where it is needed, like multi-generational homes and housing for older people
  • Enter into new Council Housing Deals with ambitious, pro-development, local authorities to help them build more social housing
  • Continue £2.5bn flood defence programme to protect 300,000 existing homes by 2021

The Conservatives say these policies will take time, but they will in the meantime continue to support those struggling to buy or rent a home, including those living in a home owned by a housing association.


With a manifesto entitled For The Many Not The Few,’ Labour says it will end insecurity for private renters by introducing controls on rent rises, more secure tenancies, landlord licensing and new consumer rights for renters.

In line with The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, Labour will also legislate to ban letting agency fees for tenants and further proposes to:-

  • Make three-year tenancies the norm with an inflation cap on rent rises
  • Give the Mayor of London power to offer renters in London additional security
  • Empower tenants to call time on bad landlords by giving renters new consumer rights
  • Introduce new legal minimal standards to ensure properties are fit for human habitation
  • Empower tenants to take action if their rented homes are sub-standard
  • Reverse the decision to abolish housing benefit for 18-21-year-olds, which they say risks putting even more vulnerable young people on our streets

Labour says soaring rents are a real problem, leading to more families living in temporary accommodation and more people sleeping rough. The party says homelessness has to end, full stop, and plans to make available 4000 additional homes reserved for people with a history of sleeping rough.

Labour’s pledges also include:

  • Creating a new Department for Housing to tackle the UK housing crisis
  • Building at least 100,000 council homes a year as part of a move to build over a million new homes


In its Change Britain’s Future manifesto, The Liberal Democrats says it wants to keep our country green and support families and communities. It plans to do this by setting new energy-efficiency targets, including a long-term ambition for every home in England to reach at least an energy rating of Band C by 2035 with priority given to fuel-poor households. It also aims to reach a housebuilding target of 300,000 homes a year by 2022, including half a million affordable and energy-efficient homes.

Like Labour, The Lib Dems back the Conservatives proposed ban on letting agent fees, capping upfront deposits and increasing minimum standards in rented homes. It is also calling for additional controls on the Private Rental Sector (PRS), claiming the housing crisis in Britain has become an emergency.

On the subject of the PRS, the party proposes wider measures to help tenants, including plans to:

  • Help people who cannot afford a deposit by introducing a new Rent to Own model where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years
  • Promote longer tenancies of three years or more with an inflation-linked annual rent increase built in, to give tenants security and limit rent hikes
  • Improve protections against rogue landlords through mandatory licensing and allow access for tenants to the database of rogue landlords and property agents
  • Increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) in line with average rents in an area, ensuring that families have enough to pay their housing costs no matter where they live
  • Give tenants first refusal to buy the home they are renting from a landlord who decides to sell during the tenancy at the market rate according to an independent valuation
  • Help young people into the rental market by establishing a new Help to Rent scheme to provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30
  • Allow local authorities to end the right to buy if they choose

As well as doubling the current level of housebuilding, the party pledges to:-

  • Reach a housebuilding target of 300,000 homes a year through a Government programme to build homes for both sale and rent
  • Ensure that half a million affordable, energy-efficient homes are built by the end of parliament

The party proposes to end the scandal of rough sleeping by increasing support for homelessness prevention and adequately funding age-appropriate emergency accommodation and supported housing.

The General Election

Regardless of which political party is elected on June 8th, it seems the private rental sector can expect to see some significant changes in legislation. However, whatever may come our way, we will always be looking for new ways to support you to ensure both your investment and your rental income is protected now and in the future.

Government Could Cap Deposits as Well as Ban Tenant Fees


With the Government finally announcing its long-awaited consultation on the ban on tenant fees and then deciding to scrap its proposed workshops to consult with the sector as soon as news of a General Election was announced, the industry is understandably all at sixes and sevens at the moment.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is already calling on the Government to either extend the consultation period for the proposed ban in England – or scrap it completely until after the election. Chief Executive David Cox is also calling for the cancelled agents’ workshops to be reinstated. The current consultation period is due to end on June 2nd, six days before the election.

Whatever the outcome, the Government’s consultation paper makes for interesting reading as it suggests additional measures, as well as the ban on fees, might be implemented. This includes the proposed introduction of a cap on deposits or the way they are paid, how the new legislation will be implemented and some tough penalties for those who flout the rules.

Whilst ARLA and other industry bodies campaign voraciously against the overall ban, we pose the question: Would these proposed new measures be such a bad thing for the industry? Or will small agents drown in government interference, as is being suggested.

 The Devil is in The Detail

Although most agents have accepted that the proposed ban on fees, which is likely to be in place as early as next year, is a done deal, the debate shows no sign of letting up. However, there are a few finer details within the consultation paper that aren’t currently making the headlines but are worthy of a closer look.

For instance, management service charges that arise because of the direct action of the tenant or that are carried out at the request of a tenant are considered exempt, and therefore chargeable. It is anticipated that these charges will be limited to services such as arranging replacement keys, repairs carried out as a result of deliberate damage or breach of tenancy and for late payment of rent.

It also suggests that agents might be able to charge for premium services, for example when arranging a rental property for someone currently living in another country that is relocating to the UK. It is anticipated that these non-standard chargeable services will probably be more applicable to the top end of the market.

In addition, the Government doesn’t raise any objection to tenants choosing to undertake their own reference checks or obtaining a tenant passport, but it does stipulate that no agent or landlord can insist on them doing so, either via the agent or a third party. Once again, the Government has stated quite clearly that it proposes to ban any letting fees charged to tenants by landlords and any other third parties to ensure that letting agent fees are not paid by tenants through any other route. Tenants should only be required to pay their rent and a refundable deposit, which means no agent will be able to charge fees relative to the granting, renewing or continuation of any tenancy.

Our research suggests that in order to protect their landlords as much as ever, agents will continue to carry out the same vital business practices as before, even though tenants can no longer be charged for these services. As we haven’t yet come across a single agent who plans to stop carrying out reference checks on tenants it will be interesting to see how the process evolves over the next year or so. As always, you can rely on us to keep coming up with innovative solutions to help you along the way, so watch this space!

Capping Deposits

In its white paper the Government says it recognises that a deposit (usually equivalent to up two month’s rent) is a significant amount of money for a tenant to find at the outset of every new tenancy and is keen to explore ways of minimising this financial burden. Due to the fact that deposit levels have been increasing, making it harder for people to move home, they want to examine the option of capping the amount that can be requested.

They are also considering wider possibilities to address the problem, such as enabling tenants to pay their deposits in instalments over the first few months of their tenancy or using a line of credit approach where an agreed deposit amount is blocked on a tenant’s credit card.

Here is what Vicky Spratt, Deputy Editor at online magazine The Debrief who led a petition in April 2016 demanding letting agent fees to tenants be banned in England and Wales, had to say on the subject:

“For people who rent, instability is a key issue. If you move often, because a landlord increases rent, your contract runs out, or your housemates change – you may find yourself regularly paying out for deposits. They vary from agent to agent and can be several months’ rent. This can be particularly challenging when the deposit from your previous property is not released before you have to make a down payment on the next. Figures from Shelter show that tenants are often having to get into debt to cover upfront moving costs. A cap on deposits would standardise them and allow tenants to plan and save, they would know what to expect when moving.”

Whilst the Government has suggested that holding deposits might also need to be capped, it plans to allow agents to continue to collect them in order to ensure there is equal commitment on the tenant’s part when reserving a property. It also agrees that deposits should be forfeited if the applicant fails to uphold their side of the agreement by providing false information or withdrawing from the tenancy.

We asked Nick Griffiths, Director of Lettings and Sales at Manners Residential, what impact this new ruling is likely to have on the independent Woking agency and this was his response:

“I am fully supportive of any new regulations that will improve the Private Rented Sector for tenants and landlords, but the proposal to cap or ban deposits is going a step too far in my opinion. The majority of deposits are 1.5 times the monthly rent, and we rarely come across a tenant who has been unwilling or unable to pay this, and when we do we try to find a workable solution. Deposits are held to protect Landlords against damage and non-payment of rent, and help ensure that tenants take care of the property they rent. Tenants do get this money back at the end of the tenancy provided they have looked after the property and have kept up to date with their rental payments and other conditions of the tenancy agreement. Should the Government implement a ban, or cap deposits at a lower level than 1.5 times the monthly rent, some tenants may feel less inclined to look after the property. Let’s not forget that the deposit money is there to protect the landlord against damage and unpaid rent at the end of the tenancy, and reducing the size of the deposit could lead to rental increases.”

Nick, who has a wealth of estate agency experience, as well as a fantastic knowledge of the Woking and surrounding areas added:

“We always look towards minimising Landlords exposure to any loss or liability by securing a deposit on all tenancies as well as utilising the experience of The Lettings Hub for comprehensive referencing which helps us minimise risks to landlords by carrying out thorough checks on all our prospective tenants.”

So How Does The Government Plan to Implement The Ban?

We know that the consultation paper invites views and comments from tenants, landlords, letting agents and other interested parties on how the ban should be implemented and enforced and that an impact assessment will be completed following the consultation, but in its paper it already proposes the answer – that the ban should be enforced by local authorities, primarily Trading Standards.

In its vision for a ban that is clear and simple for all involved, it also proposes that the empowerment and education of tenants regarding their rights in the lettings process will be a useful tool in enforcing the ban; thereby reducing the burden on local authorities. Are we to take it then that the tenant is expected to proactively police agents?


Trading Standards may require additional support to ensure that enforcement of the ban is effective and the Government plans to seek the view of the sector on the following:-

  • The introduction of a lead enforcement authority
  • Increased data sharing to assist enforcement
  • Further regulation of the sector

Consideration will be given as to whether to make noncompliance with the ban on fees a civil or criminal offence. A civic penalty is incurred at the moment through non-compliance of the redress scheme, resulting in maximum fines of £5,000 which could be adopted but the Government isn’t ruling out tougher penalties, such as criminal prosecution.

Under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, the Government is introducing civil penalties of up to £30,000 for breach of banning order and a similar level of fine for agents who fail to comply with the ban on fees would arguably act as a considerable deterrent. Non-compliant agents could be subject to a fine as well as being banned from operating and placed on the database of rogue agents.

To read the Government’s full consultation paper, click here:

To respond to the open consultation by completing an online survey, click here:

Energy Performance Regulations – Be Ready For The Change

Prepare early for EPC Regulations changes

From April 2018, new laws will make it an offence to let out properties with the worst energy efficiency ratings. The new legislation, brought about by the Department for Energy & Climate Change seeks to ensure that all tenants have the right to live in an energy efficient home. It will also target the reduction of CO2 emissions for all buildings to around zero by 2050.

New minimum energy efficiency standards for England and Wales (MEES), passed in 2015, applies to both domestic and non-domestic sides of the Private Rental Sector (PRS); meaning that letting out a commercial property or a house to a tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of below E (so F & G), will be unlawful. Commercial property is being based on CO2 emissions whereas the domestic rating is based on fuel costs.

These regulations will make it unlawful for you to grant a new lease if your property has an F or G EPC rating, with the rules phased in over the next five years. Phase 1, which commences on 1st April 2018, will mean any property subject to a new tenancy (either to a new tenant or an existing tenant) will need to comply with the minimum E rating. By April 2020, Phase 2 will have kicked in, which means the regulations will then apply to all privately rented homes that require an EPC.

If a property does not meet the minimum standard, then it cannot be let or even marketed, unless it has been granted an exemption. You could face financial penalties of £5,000 for non-compliance.

With the threat of this new legislation just over a year away, nearly 17%* of all homes currently let out may suddenly find they can no longer legally be rented; unless the property is registered as an exemption (more about this later). This data is backed up by an English Housing Survey report, which claims 1.8 million dwellings had a rating of F or G back in 2011.** The key findings of this report also indicated that the vast majority of these homes were in the PRS, that almost half were built before 1919 and that improving the energy efficiency of them would not always be straightforward or inexpensive. The cost of getting so many failing properties up to an acceptable standard in such a short space of time is likely to be astronomical.

What properties do not require an EPC?

Most residential properties will require an EPC. The exemptions are:

  • Listed buildings – (seek advice from your local authority if any work would alter the building’s character)
  • Churches and other places of worship
  • Holiday accommodation (rented out for less than 4 months a year)
  • Temporary buildings (used for less than two years)
  • Buildings that are due to be demolished
  • Standalone buildings with a floor area of less than 50 metres square that aren’t used to provide living accommodation for a single household
  • Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings that don’t use a lot of energy
  • Residential buildings (intended to be used less than 4 months a year)

The importance of planning early

Demand for loft insulation services and other improvements are likely to increase as we get closer to the deadline. Thinking ahead and enlisting the services of local tradesmen now, could save you lengthy void periods later on; especially if rental properties start to become categorised as unlawful.

To avoid a potential bottleneck, we suggest you shop around now to see what resources and help are available to help with upgrading properties to suitable EPC levels. It may also be worth talking to your tenants to see if they are eligible for any Energy Company Obligation scheme or renovation grants that will help improve their living conditions.

What will the cost be?

Getting to grips with this new legislation early on is essential if you are to comply effectively. For instance, contrary to popular belief, you will not be expected to improve your property if it means incurring upfront costs. This is because savings resulting from the work carried out should end up repaying their costs over the expected lifetime of the works. In certain circumstances, where this is not possible, you may be entitled to apply for an exemption on your property.

What is an exemption and can I apply?

The same cost-effective measures approved under the Government’s now defunct Green Deal will apply to the new regulations when they come into force on April 1st 2018; protecting landlords from having to face upfront or net costs for improvement works. This means you may still be eligible for an exemption from reaching the minimum energy efficient standard if you can provide evidence of the following:

  • Steps were taken to try to make the property more cost-effective but it still remains below an EPC rating of E
  • You are unable to carry out improvements without upfront costs because you or your tenant fail the relevant credit checks required to obtain private funding from Green Deal providers
  • A third party’s consent or permission is required to undertake the improvements relating to the minimum standard but consent is denied or was provided with unworkable conditions
  • The occupying tenant withholds consent to the work being carried out
  • When a suitably qualified independent surveyor (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or similar) expects the measures to devalue the property by more than 5% if the work goes ahead
  • Where wall insulation is required but you have obtained a written opinion, from a suitably qualified person, advising that this will cause a negative impact on the structure of the property (or the building of which it forms part of)
    Registration of exemptions

It is anticipated that the PRS Exemptions Register, which will be open to public inspection, will commence from 1st October 2017. Any exemption to the legislation must be registered, otherwise the property will be considered non-compliant. Supporting evidence of any applied exemption will be required and landlords could be in breach of regulations if they claim an exemption to which they are not entitled. It is understood that exemptions will be valid for five years, after which they will need to be reviewed to see if they are still upheld.

What resources and help are available to landlords?

There has been a lot of confusion around what green energy deals are available to landlords to finance these energy-saving improvement costs. Although the Government has stopped funding the Green Deal Finance Company, which was set up to lend money to Green Deal providers, you may still be able to get Green Deal funding from those providers who are now financing the scheme themselves.

In January, Greenstone Finance and Aurium Capital Markets announced its acquisition of the business and assets of the Green Deal Finance Company. The new ownership will continue to service the existing Green Deal loans and is due to commence financing of new

Green Deal loans in Q1 of this year.

Green Deal loans can help with the cost of a boiler or other essential measures for landlords who cannot otherwise afford upfront fees. They typically offer competitive interest rates but are more easily managed as they are paid by the bill payer (in this case the tenant) who benefits most from the arrangement.

Simple exercises such as changing lightbulbs to LEDs can be highly effective when it comes to improving an EPC rating and tenants will also appreciate the saving on their energy bills. However, the most effective energy-saving improvements you can make to a property could include any or all of the following:-

  • Insulation (solid wall, cavity wall or loft)
  • Double glazing
  • Heating
  • Draught-proofing
  • Renewable energy (solar panels or heat pumps)

It is worth noting that so long as the minimum E rating is achieved, it is up to you to decide which work needs to be carried out.

When replacing a boiler, we strongly advise going to the extra expense of fitting an A-rated one that comes with a 10-year warranty. The reason for this is that the Government’s long term goal is to raise standards even further, so the minimum EPC rating is likely to rise to a D by 2025 and a C by 2030. Putting in the extra effort now, exceeding the required standard could mean you will save money in the long term, by not having to do further improvements.

If your property is in breach of the regulations, although you may be liable, it will not affect the validity of the tenancy itself, so the rent still continues to be payable to you.

How improved EPC ratings will benefit landlords

Any improvement to a property, in terms of energy efficiency or otherwise, will always have a positive impact on its rental appeal. Clued up tenants looking to check out the best properties on the market are increasingly likely to do a postcode check on every property they search; reviewing the EPC energy ratings as standard. After all, who doesn’t want to live in the warmest, most comfortable and energy-efficient home?

If only half of the 17%* of privately rented properties previously mentioned are removed from the rental market, even temporarily, this could have a significant impact on the industry. By planning ahead now, you could be saving yourself untold worry and financial concern.

*according to data released by
** English Housing Survey report 2011