UK Housing Market Watch – June 2021

Right To Rent Deadlines Change For A Third Time

right to rent deadlin represented with DEADLINE word on wooden blocks on wood table. Copy space. White background

Stop-go deadlines to the way landlords carry out Right to Rent checks have changed for a third time in weeks.

The rules were relaxed to avoid face-to-face checks during the coronavirus lockdown.

The eased rules were meant to end on May 21, but that deadline was extended until June 21 to coincide with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s planned road map out of lockdown.

Now, due to a spike in coronavirus cases, ministers have extended the deadline again – this time until August 31.

Under the relaxed rules, landlords must still carry out Right to Rent checks but can complete the task online with a video call and accept digital copies of documents to inspect.

From September 1, landlords must drop digital checks to meet tenants face-to-face and have sight of original documents.

“You do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between March 30, 2020 and August 31, 2021,” said a Home Office spokesman.

“This reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports landlords during this difficult time.

“You will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check you have undertaken during this period was done in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance.”

Peer Pressure On Pet-Friendly Renting

Exotic shorthair cat. Cat with balls of threads.

The government is taking the lead in encouraging private landlords to allow tenants to keep pets.

In a House of Lords debate, Housing Minister Lord Greenhalgh reiterated the government’s aims.

He explained he wanted more private landlords to take up the free model tenancy agreement on the government website.

The agreement includes a clause allowing tenants to keep pets by default, but landlords can object if they have a good reason to deny the request.

Tory Lord Lexden urged the government to crack down on landlords who ban pets.

“A more collaborative approach between landlords and tenants in keeping tenants happy and property in good condition would benefit both,” he said.

Using the model tenancy agreement is optional for landlords.

House Prices Go Through The Roof

wooden houses with a graph line that signifies increase in house prices

House prices are going through the roof, says property portal Rightmove.

Asking prices hit record levels for the second month in a row.

Sellers want an average £333,564 – a 1.8% and £5,767 increase on the old record set in April.

Most house buying activity is in the north, says the Rightmove report, with London prices standing still as most of the country enjoys double digit increases.

The stamp duty holiday, due to start falling back to normal levels from the end of the month, is cited as the main trigger for the boost in house prices.

Becky Munday, managing director at Munday’s Estate Agents in London, explained: “It’s no surprise that the north has seen the biggest gains. It is by and large a market which has long-held the biggest opportunity for growth and still represents great value.

“People are now prepared to go even further in their race for space, with many more no longer chained to traditional commuter barriers or southern cities. In London we’re seeing immediate knock-on effects of a working-from-home culture take hold, coupled with the vanishing act of most international buyers who have part supported and underpinned the capital’s economy.”

Buy To Let Data Hides Long-Term Rent Dip

Wooden houses with a green downward arrow that signifies rent

Rent rises have virtually flat-lined for past 18 months with landlords in London seeing the first year-on-year decrease since October 2018.

Across England, rents were up 1.1% in the year to May 31, 2021, but the figures varied considerably across the regions.

While landlords in the East Midlands saw the largest annual growth (2.4%), those in London saw a fall of -0.1%, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.

Excluding London, rents in England jumped 1.8% year-on-year.

Digging deeper, comparing annual rent growth since January 2020 shows rents have hit a plateau of increases ranging from 1.2% to 1.5% and that the trend is downhill.

“Growth in private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK remained broadly flat between November 2019 and the end of 2020. The beginning of 2021 has seen a slowdown in rental price growth, which has been driven by prices in London,” said the ONS report.

UK rents – January 2020 – May 2021

 Month Annual % change Monthly % change
Jan-20 1.5 0.1
Feb-20 1.4 -0.1
Mar-20 1.4 0.0
Apr-20 1.5 0.1
May-20 1.5 0.0
Jun-20 1.5 0.0
Jul-20 1.4 -0.1
Aug-20 1.5 0.1
Sep-20 1.5 0.0
Oct-20 1.4 -0.1
Nov-20 1.4 0.0
Dec-20 1.4 0.0
Jan-21 1.3 -0.1
Feb-21 1.4 0.1
Mar-21 1.3 -0.1
Apr-21 1.2 -0.1
May-21 1.2 0.0

Source: ONS

Meanwhile, fresh data from tenant referencing firm HomeLet suggests although rent rises are flat, tenants are paying record rents.

Average UK rents have hit a new peak of £997 a month – the sixth month in a row rents have posted a new high.

HomeLet paints an even bleaker picture of London rents, pointing out they have fallen 0.9% in a year to an average £1,583 a month.

UK rents by region – year to May 20212

Region May-21 Apr-21 Monthly change May-20 Annual change
South West £943 £955 -1.30% £870 8.40%
East Midlands £704 £709 -0.07% £659 6.80%
Yorkshire & Humberside £697 £693 0.06% £652 6.90%
East of England £1,001 £993 0.08% £923 8.50%
North East £560 £555 0.09% £527 6.30%
North West £790 £791 -0.01% £758 4.20%
Wales £698 £686 1.70% £648 7.70%
South East £1,095 £1,102 -0.06% £1,037 5.60%
West Midlands £755 £755 0.00% £721 4.70%
Scotland £707 £689 2.60% £682 3.70%
Northern Ireland £678 £670 1.20% £651 4.10%
London £1,583 £1,580 0.02% £1,598 -0.09%
UK £997 £996 0.01% £959 4.00%
UK excluding London £854 £853 0.01% £803 6.40%

Source: HomeLet

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