Posts filed under ‘Politics’

Letting agents will have to publish fees on their websites, says Nick Clegg

Letting agents will have to publish their fees in full in a bid to promote greater transparency, the Deputy Prime Minister said today.

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg said agents would have to set out their fees both on their websites and in their offices as greater disclosure should keep costs down for tenants.

But he warned that banning agents from charging fees to tenants could lead to higher rents.

His comments come as MPs are set to vote on a Labour amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill, calling for letting agents to be banned from charging fees for renting out properties, in addition to requiring a deposit and the first month’s rent upfront from tenants.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Emma Reynolds, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, said: “Homebuyers rightly don’t have to pay the estate agent who is working on behalf of the seller of the property.

“However, in contrast, renters have to pay to get the keys to their rental property.

“The average upfront fees are £350 but in high demand areas, these fees can be much more expensive.”

She added that around nine million people in the UK currently rent a property through a private sector landlord, a third of whom are families with children.

But letting agents have responded angrily to the proposal.

Paul SmithPaul Smith, chief executive at estate agent haart, branded the amendment an “empty political PR stunt”.

He said: “Tenants receive a very good service, mostly to protect them and their interests, both physical and financial, and to ensure they have security of tenancy.

“That service comes at a real cost to agents and if we are unable to charge as an industry, there is a real danger agents will cut corners and reduce the quality of administration.”

He added that the fees covered the cost of obtaining references for tenants to ensure they were who they said they were and that they could afford to rent the property, as well as drafting the tenancy agreement.

David NewnesDavid Newnes, director of the largest network of letting agents in the UK including Your Move and Reeds Rains, owned by LSL Property Services, said:“It may seem that tenants would be better off if there were no up-front fees attached to arranging a proper legal tenancy.

“But unfortunately no Act of Parliament can magic this cost away – and in reality tenants could be far worse off.”

He pointed out that following a ban on tenancy fees in Scotland in November 2012, rents rose by 4 per cent in the space of just six months – 10 times the rate of rent rises in England and Wales over the same period.

The Consumer Rights Bill will have a third reading and be considered by the House of Lords before it becomes law.

May 13, 2014 at 4:41 PM 1 comment

Banks urged to ‘rethink’ lending in retirement as state pension age rises

Banks and building societies are being urged to reconsider their lending criteria for those in later life after the Chancellor announced changes to the state pension.

05.12.13 Autumn Statement 1

Photo by Altogetherfool

Brokers said lenders would need to ‘rethink their lending policies’ after George Osborne announced an increase in the state pension age.

Andrew Montlake, of mortgage brokers Coreco, exclusively told Zoopla: “As it becomes more evident that people will be working until they are older, with a retirement age of 70 no doubt becoming a norm, lenders do need to rethink their lending policies to accommodate this change.

“While there is much regulatory clamour around lending into retirement, the last thing many borrowers need is to be constrained by anachronistic lending policies that do not take into account changes in working practices.”

Lenders have traditionally capped the age at which they will lend to borrowers to a retirement age of around 65 years old. It can be higher or lower than this depending on the individual lender.

The Chancellor said in the Autumn statement that anyone born after 1990 will have to work for five years longer than those today before they can claim the state pension.

It means anyone currently in their 40s or younger will be affected by the move.

Plans to raise the pension age to 67 by 2028 will not change, but under the new rules the age is expected to reach 68 by the mid 2030s and 69 by the 2040s – much earlier than had previously been predicted.

At present, a man can start to claim his state pension from the age of 65 and a woman from 61 and nine months.

December 5, 2013 at 11:31 AM Leave a comment

Comprehensive Spending Review to hit housing market

Property for sale in Oxford

The Chancellor will set out the Government’s four-year public spending plans in the Spending Review at 12:30 on Wednesday 20 October. This announcement will reveal just how extensive the cuts to government spending will be. It’s anticipated that a significant number of public sector job losses will happen over the coming years. This could mean that areas with high rates of public sector employment are likely to take a disproportionately hard knock over the coming months.

In areas where more people are employed by the state, rising unemployment will lead to more homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages as well as dampening demand from buyers, which will put downward pressure on house prices in these areas. House prices are likely to be far more resilient in areas with a smaller share of public sector employees.

Here are areas in England and Wales where house prices are most and least likely to be hit the hardest:

Top 20 areas likely to be most affected

Rank Local Authority Area % of workforce employed in the public sector Current avg. property value 3 year % change
1 Oxford 46 £326,396 -3.61%
2 Denbighshire 45 £146,289 -9.06%
3 Cambridge 43 £306,521 -6.88%
4 Middlesbrough 43 £117,623 -8.53%
5 Hastings 43 £164,255 -5.19%
6 Ceredigion 42 £185,569 -7.53%
7 Canterbury 40 £224,699 -10.11%
8 Stafford 40 £188,162 -8.54%
9 West Dorset 40 £271,555 -9.22%
10 Merthyr Tydfil 39 £94,854 -7.85%
11 Sefton 39 £170,518 -9.66%
12 Liverpool 39 £132,083 -10.21%
13 Greenwich 39 £276,512 -3.64%
14 Taunton Deane 39 £214,130 -9.03%
15 Lewisham 39 £265,822 -3.42%
16 Swansea 38 £151,570 -9.47%
17 Eastbourne 38 £207,468 -7.88%
18 Newcastle upon Tyne 38 £166,890 -9.10%
19 Blackpool 37 £114,300 -14.58%
20 Gwynedd 37 £155,043 -8.70%

Source: Zoopla.co.uk / ONS

Top 20 areas least likely to be affected

Rank Local Authority Area % of workforce employed in the public sector Current avg. property value 3 year % change
1 City of London 4 £468,962 3.14%
2 Crawley 12 £211,235 -5.82%
3 Corby 13 £132,191 -8.61%
4 North Warwickshire 14 £173,686 -9.31%
5 Broxbourne 14 £260,362 -6.00%
6 NW Leicestershire 14 £175,327 -8.16%
7 Bracknell Forest 14 £271,346 -6.80%
8 Hillingdon 15 £289,043 -5.04%
9 Tamworth 15 £151,501 -9.11%
10 Three Rivers 16 £389,658 -5.34%
11 South Holland 16 £152,377 -10.41%
12 Harborough 16 £239,865 -8.49%
13 Slough 16 £202,182 -8.93%
14 Thurrock 17 £186,756 -7.21%
15 Hertsmere 17 £367,525 -5.16%
16 Tower Hamlets 17 £329,663 -3.74%
17 Trafford 17 £239,271 -9.41%
18 Woking 17 £344,991 -5.66%
19 Flintshire 17 £164,483 -9.84%
20 Hounslow 17 £328,716 -5.47%

Source: Zoopla.co.uk / ONS

As always, please feel free to share and use this information, all we ask is that you credit the source as Zoopla.co.uk / ONS and link to either Zoopla.co.uk or blog.zoopla.co.uk. Thank you

October 19, 2010 at 1:15 PM Leave a comment

Tony Blair buys £975,000 property for daughter

In the week that Tony Blair’s memoirs are published news has also broken that he and Cherie have just bought another property – a three-bedroomed maisonette in London, NW1 for their daughter Kathryn Blair for £975,000 (cash). This property price is reported to have been £20,000 below the original for sale asking price.

Whilst it’s tempting to publish the address, we’ve resisted but we can reveal that the average property value on the street where they bought, according to Zoopla.co.uk, is £883,407 which is higher than the average home value for NW1 - £607,787.

This property is located on a street with 36 properties and the lowest priced property sold since 1995 on this street is number 34 where a transaction took place on 16th July 1996 for £135,000. The most recent house to sell on this street was number 30 which sold for £1,225,000 in October 2007.

This now takes the total number of properties The Blairs own to nine. The portfolio contains some impressive residences and is worth in the region of £15m. Here are two of the other properties they own:

1. The South Pavillion at Wotton Underwood (reported £4m purchase price)

The home once owned by Sir John Gielgud

2. Connaught Square, London, W2 (reported £3.7m purchase price)

Related story: Tony Blair to sell his one time constituency home

September 1, 2010 at 11:53 AM Leave a comment

HIPS SUSPENDED WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT

Following on from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats releasing their ‘Coalition Agreement’ document on 12th May which confirmed, under the Environment section (pt 6), that “Home Information Packs (HIPs) are to be scrapped and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) retained” mass confusion set in and home owners, agents, Lawyers and HIP providers each reacted in their own way – some of the comments can be read here.

The main points for debate surrounded the absence of any time scale, resulting unemployment and the legal issues facing home owners and estate agents.

Well, the Government has acted pretty quickly (eight days) and fulfilled their manifesto and confirmed today that HIPS have been suspended. This was announced at a press conference held at Bullman Booth estate agents in Battersea, London.

Full press release on Communities and Local Government website.

This should now banish any second thoughts or delays from home owners who were waiting in the wings to sell their property.

CLG Secretary of State Eric Pickles said:

“HIPs are history. This action will encourage sellers back into the market and help the market as a whole, and the economy recover.”

Housing minister Grant Shapps said:

“This is a great example of how this new Government is getting straight down to work by cutting away pointless red-tape that is strangling the market. Rather than shelling out hundreds of pounds for nothing in return we’re stripping away bureaucracy and letting home owners sell their properties.

“But we’re also showing our commitment to a greener housing market by keeping Energy Performance Certificates and making them more relevant in helping buyers make informed decisions on the energy costs of their new home.”

Here’s our comment on the situation from our Commercial Director, Nick Leeming. Do let us know your thoughts on the situation using the comment box below.

“There were serious concerns that a delay in the scrapping of HIPs would harm the housing market by deterring would-be sellers from putting their homes on the market. But the government has responded quickly and the imminent suspension of HIPs will banish any second thoughts from homeowners. The writing was always on the wall for HIPs. The packs did not contain all the key information buyers and solicitors would need and sellers were always reluctant to incur additional costs – particularly during the economic downturn when there was no guarantee of a sale completing. The inevitable job losses are unquestionably a bitter blow for those who paid considerable amounts to train as home inspectors. The hope is that the demise of HIPs will boost the housing market recovery and, in turn, create further employment in the sector.”

Please feel free to use Nick’s comment above; all we ask is that you credit the source as Nick Leeming, Commercial Director, Zoopla.co.uk and link to Zoopla.co.uk.

May 20, 2010 at 9:24 AM 3 comments

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