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This is the week when everything has stood still as we honour the mourning of the queen.  However, there have still been some interesting housing articles in the news this week.

Gas Safety being denied

A survey carried out by Landlord Action has identified that 46% of landlords have been denied access to carry out the routine but legally required gas safety checks. Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, says

Gas safety checks are not only a landlord’s legal obligation, but they are also imperative to ensuring the safety of the property and the tenants living there. Of course, sometimes it comes down to when is convenient, but when tenants continually deny access, it becomes a real problem.

Because of this obstruction by tenants, Landlord Action are seeking a discretionary ground for possession of unreasonably refusing landlords access for inspections. This would then give landlords the necessary authority to gain access. He goes onto say

As the market evolves and the balance of power shifts towards the tenant, landlords are contacting us with increasingly complex legal challenges, which are likely to broaden in the future as the sector reforms.  We already offer access injunctions to complete gas safety checks and are currently looking at what other support landlords may need.

If your tenant is not allowing you access, note that Landlord Law has a Property Access Kit, which includes detailed guidance on how to obtain a ‘gas injunction’, which you can read about here.

Gas Safety Week

One in five homes inspected had a dangerous gas appliance needing immediate disconnection, while three in five were deemed in an unsafe condition according to the Gas Safe Register.

This week is Gas Safety Week, and it is trying to raise awareness of the importance of taking care of any gas appliance. Gas pipework, flues and appliances need to be checked and maintained regularly and have an annual safety check and Gas Safety Record certificate. The number of Carbon monoxide poisoning-related illnesses have been reduced following earlier campaigns.

You can read more here.

A new housing minister

Eddie Hughes, the main architect of the housing white paper having resigned a couple of weeks ago, we are now told that his replacement is Lee Rowley.

Rowley was previously a junior minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and a government whip.

I wonder how long he will last in housing?

Rental shortages drive up costs

Renters are seeking smaller properties that have lower running costs and lower rent to try and combat the rising cost of living.

Zoopla’s latest figures show that the average rent has increased by £115 per month since last year, reaching £1,051 per calendar month – and accounting for 34.4% of the average income of a single earner. This is further impacted by both the lack of supply and the high demand imbalance, along with many renters choosing to stay put. One and two-bedroom flats are even more popular now as renters feel the high cost of living bite.

Outside of London, the average rent is £105 lower per month for a two-bedroom flat compared to a three-bedroom house.

Renters are having to take a lot more into consideration now rather than just viewing a property and ‘liking it’. A purpose-built flat is 40% lower to heat using gas than a terraced house and 25% lower than a converted flat where energy is concerned. New builds are becoming more appealing with good EPC ratings of C and above. This is the opposite of what renters wanted during Covid when large rural properties were in demand.

Zoopla forecasts that things are not likely to change any time soon, added to the supply issue are landlords selling up due to tax and regulatory changes.

Richard Donnell of Zoopla said

Rents have surged ahead over the last year but there are signs that the pace of growth is peaking and set to slow into 2023. Renters are responding and looking for smaller, better value for money homes to rent with an eye on energy costs as much as rental levels.

What the rental market needs to combat these challenges is more new homes for rent. Greater regulation has seen less new investment and a small but growing number of landlords selling up, meaning the rental market has stopped growing since 2016. There is a risk that more regulation to improve standards or potential new measures to dampen rental growth, as proposed in Scotland, may compound the supply problem which is pushing rents up in the first place. Policymakers need to tread a careful path between protecting consumers and ensuring a decent supply of homes for rent.

Hannah Gretton, lettings director at LSL’s Your Move says the market is struggling to meet demand, read what she says here.

Outdated Rentals

A think tank Institute for Government, is calling for the government to do more to improve the old and outdated rental industry saying the last ten years have been full of ‘short measures and retrofits’. They want a major efficiency programme involving insulation along with long-term measures rather than short-term financial gains.  They say

UK households and business are likely to still be facing high energy bills in the winter of 2023 – quite possibly beyond that … Funding very high energy costs through borrowing, without a strategy to reduce demand, will prove unsustainable.

You can read more here.

PRS exit

Zoopla reports that taxes, rent freezes and more regulations will be more detrimental to the private rental sector than anything else we have seen for a long time. The exiting of landlords and tenants staying put will only amplify the supply squeeze and put pressure on rent well into 2023.

Richard Donnell, Zoopla’s Executive Director says

What the rental market needs to combat these challenges is more new homes for rent. Greater regulation has seen less new investment and a small but growing number of landlords selling up, meaning the rental market has stopped growing since 2016.
There is a risk that more regulation to improve standards or potential new measures to dampen rental growth, as proposed in Scotland, may compound the supply problem which is pushing rents up in the first place. Policymakers need to tread a careful path between protecting consumers and ensuring a decent supply of homes for rent.

Zoopla’s latest statistics are startling and speak for themselves.

Snippets

Newsround will be back next week.

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