Calling Time on Rogue Landlords and Agents in London

Calling Time on Rogue Landlords and Agents in London

The Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker has been launched that will allow tenants to check landlords and agents before they sign a tenancy agreement.

The checker, from the Mayor of London, lists those landlords and lettings agents who have been successfully prosecuted or have faced civil enforcement action for housing offences, along with details of the offences and the properties to which they relate.

At the moment, 10 of the 32 London councils have published data (equivalent to 25% of renters), with another 8 councils to submit data in the coming weeks.

English housing survey: Private Rented Sector report, 2014-15

  • The private rented sector has undergone rapid growth in the last 10 years;
  • There has been an increase in the proportion of families in rented accommodation;
  • Private renters are less satisfied with their tenure than owner occupiers and social renters, but satisfaction has increased since 2004-05;
  • There has been an increase in the proportion of private renters who were charged a fee(s) on entering their current accommodation. These were sometimes hidden by the agent or landlord;
  • Most tenants paid a deposit when they moved into their accommodation and nearly two thirds of their landlords paid this into a government authorised deposit scheme;
  • Dwelling condition and safety in the private rented sector has improved since 1996

Canada: Vancouver Mayor's proposal could affect Domestic Secondments and Global Assignments

Vancouver's mayor has announced that the city is looking at imposing a tax on vacant homes.

Depending on how the proposed law is written this could increase the cost of domestic secondments and global assignments. However, we first have to remind ourselves of Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) guidelines for such assignments.

Relief for landlords after Supreme Court ruling on Human Rights

Private landlords can sigh in relief that tenants they want to evict cannot invoke a breach of their 'Human Rights' when they are being evicted.

Following a ruling by the Supreme Court in a case known as McDonald v McDonald, specialist property lawyer Kary Withers of Clarke Willmott LLP has reported the landmark decision.

Overhaul of private tenancies in Scotland

Scottish Parliament has just passed The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act, coming into action in 2017.

The Act will create a much simpler system, including tighter regulation over rent increases and adding increased security of tenure for tenants.

Canada: Rental vacancy rates at critically low levels in Greater Vancouver and Toronto areas

Just recently Vancouver's rental vacancy rate was measured at being the lowest in the world at 0.6%. CMHC has not released its figures, so Toronto's rate is not currently known (last year's published rate was 1.6%), but it is expected to be low, although not as low as that of Vancouver.

Rental variations in China

Many issues, legalities and paperwork differ in China from province to province. Housing rental prices are no exception, and vary greatly from 1st to 3rd tier cities, and the methods of rental and deposit payments also vary from city to city. Landlords and developers in some regions have different requirements when it comes to rental and deposit payments.

When assignees are relocating to China, they should be aware that the policies are not standardized, and below is an example of various cities with differing payment regulations.

Average UK rents up 1.2% in January compared to the same month in 2015

Average rents in the UK rose 1.2% to £906 a month in January compared to the same month in 2015, the slowest increase in three years, the latest rental index shows.

But average rents are some 12% above their pre-recession peak, reaching the highest level on record, according to the data from the Countrywide monthly lettings index.

The data also shows that London has seen the largest growth in rents anywhere in the country since 2007, with rents 34% higher than their pre-recession record. Between 2007 and 2016 the average Londoner has seen their rent rise from £966 to £1,295 a month.

Right to Rent now live in England

As of 1st February 2016, landlords (and letting agents if acting on behalf of the landlord) must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent a residential property in England.

Failure to comply with this legislation means a landlord can be fined up to £3,000 for renting a property to someone who isn’t allowed to rent property in England.

Before the start of a new tenancy, the landlord must make checks for tenants aged 18 and over even if:

  • They’re not named on the tenancy agreement
  • There’s no tenancy agreement
  • The tenancy agreement isn’t in writing

If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, the check needs to be carried out in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy.

Egypt: Integrated residential project in eastern Cairo

Palm Hills Development Company, a leading real estate company in Egypt, has signed an agreement with the New Urban Communities Authority (Nuca) to develop an integrated residential project in eastern Cairo on a 500-acre area on a revenue sharing system.

The project, being co-developed with Egypt Ministry of Housing, is likely to attract investments worth over E£35 billion ($4.4 billion), reported the Daily News Egypt, citing the housing minister.

Germany: New law clarifies residence registration requirements

The Federal Registration Act, effective November 1, 2015, replaces existing state residence registration laws, harmonizes registration deadlines and requires residents (including foreign nationals and citizens) to register at a local town hall within two weeks of taking up residence in Germany and to de-register within two weeks after leaving their accommodation. 

House price increases per hour

Latest figures published by NLP Insights show by how much property values increase per hour in the UK (based on data from the last 12 months).

No surprises that London is at the top of the tree at £3.48 per hour.

The East Midlands region sits in the middle at £0.50 per hour.

The North West is bottom of the pile at just £0.03 per hour.


House price increase per hour

Right to Rent checks in effect across England starting February 1, 2016

Right to Rent checks will be in effect across England starting February 1, 2016, according to a Home Office announcement.  Residential landlords will be required to check and copy prospective tenants’ documents to ensure they are legally present in the country before renting out property. Conducting such a check is a defense to a violation of the law. Those who fail to conduct a check may face a fine of up to GBP 3,000 per tenant.

Private Housing (Tenancies) Bill published in Scotland

A new bill published today will ensure tenants will have more security, stability and predictability when privately renting a home in Scotland.

The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill will protect 700,000 people from the prospect of unforeseen and unfair eviction and unpredictability over rent increases, as well as ensuring the sector is attractive to investors, with better management and regulation.

15 Night Tube stations where 24-hour services will add a premium to the value of properties

The arrival of London's Night Tube will bring with it a price premium of as much as 10 per cent for properties close to a handful of selected stations along the route.

Homes close to Stratford, Willesden Green, Mile End and Canada Water are set to rise more than at any other station served by the Night Tube, commanding a rise in value of between five and 10 per cent higher than-than the surrounding area.

Homeowners within a half mile radius of the stations stand to benefit from the upswing in prices, according to research from and Dataloft.

Saudi Arabia Ejar system ‘fails’ as rents continue to rise

It has been three years since the launch of the electronic portal “Ejar,” but citizens and residents continue to face the problems of skyrocketing rents for houses.

The Ministry of Housing has also failed to provide housing units to thousands of citizens in all regions of the country, a local newspaper reported on Saturday.

Ejar was launched with much enthusiasm on June 27, 2012. The ministry had claimed it would find comprehensive solutions to problems pertaining to the housing sector, control manipulation in prices and establish a just and fair relationship between tenants and landlords. It had also promised that there would be a balance between demand and supply.

Al Kharafi launches Wadi Ghalib residential resort in Egypt

Al Kharafi Group has launched its latest project 'Wadi Ghalib' residential resort at the Cityscape Exhibition at the Cairo International Convention Centre in Egypt.
The resort will offer a variety of residential units, including villas, townhouses and flats, to suit the needs of its wide client base, said a statement.

UK rents 'most expensive in Europe' at time of cheap mortgages

UK rental costs are the highest in Europe but homeowners are benefiting from cheap mortgages, data suggests.

Tenants typically spend 39.1% of their income on rent compared with a European average of 28%, figures from the National Housing Federation suggest.

The federation, which represents housing associations, also said that renters were less secure in their homes, owing to short tenancies.

However, homeowners are benefitting from competition between lenders.

The British Bankers' Association (BBA) said that there was "fierce competition" among lenders which meant that "great mortgage deals" were available.

Low interest rates, a trend of owners sticking with long-term tracker deals, and a lack of properties on the market are all contributing to lenders lowering the cost of home loans to try to tempt owners to their mortgage products.

The contrasting fortunes of renters and owners will be a concern for those who see little prospect of getting on the housing ladder in the short term.

The NHF said that private tenants made up about 17% of all UK residents but were facing high costs. Their counterparts in Holland and Germany, for example, had private rents that were about 50% cheaper than in the UK.

David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, said: "How can we expect people to raise families, start businesses or save for their first home if they don't even know where they will be able to afford to live?

"High rents are just one symptom of the housing crisis, we are simply not building enough due to under investment and problems with the land market."

There was also a culture of longer-term residency in properties on the continent, unlike in the UK where people moved more often owing to short tenancy agreements, the federation added.

New deals

Activity among owner-occupiers has been picking up in recent weeks, according to the BBA, which represents the major banks.

Lenders have been trying to encourage owners to switch to fixed-rate mortgage deals.

"More of the banks and building societies are actively targeting their existing customers and offering them new deals," said Aaron Strutt, of mortgage brokers Trinity Financial.

"Rates are so cheap at the moment that there are often savings to be made even if you are on one of the super-low tracker mortgages."

Even if a mortgage is secured, the chance of people selling in one part of the country and buying in another could be difficult.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the huge difference in average house prices in neighbourhoods of England and Wales.

The area with the largest median house price last year was Kensington and Chelsea, in London, at £1.19m. The lowest median average property price was in Blaenau Gwent in Wales at £75,000.

New Prescribed Section 21 Notice published

Hot on the heels of the smoke alarm debacle new regulations have been published prescribing the form for a section 21 Notice which must be used from 1st October 2015. (The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015.)

As the name suggests these only apply to England. We think the idea of a prescribed form is a good one as it will help avoid arguments over the wording of the section 21 Notice. Obviously it is concerning that there is such a short lead in time although we have been expecting the same for some months now. For most agents completing the form should cause little difficulty, particularly for those used to giving old style Section 21 notice.

The regulations do however refer to three, in effect, new requirements for service of a valid section 21 Notice. The Landlord or Agent will need to show that the EPC and Gas Safe Certificate was given to the Tenant. Practically we would suggest that additional copies probably should be served with the Section 21 Notice, thereby saving arguments. Agents will no doubt wish to draw this to Landlords attention and make clear without these documents they will not be able to use the non-fault Section 21 Notice.

Also there is an entirely new requirement. At the start of each tenancy (including renewals) you will need to serve “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”. This will only be available in electronic form on the website and Landlords and Agents will be expected to download and print off this 8 page document for each tenancy.   As with prescribed information it is important agents can prove this was given although again you may wish to serve a further copy with any notice to avoid issues being raised. Plenty to look at and certainly going forward we expect the issuing of accelerated possession proceedings will be more difficult given the extra hoops required to prove which will inevitably lead to further changes to the relevant court forms.

Finally, we comment on the note 1 on the form itself, which seems to be intended to help people give the correct date for expiry. First the note advises the landlord to allow two extra days for service, without advising them to check the terms of their tenancy agreement, or to allow for weekends and public holidays.

Secondly the note refers to serving notice on a statutory periodic tenancy under s21(4). Following the rule in Spencer v Taylor notice on a statutory periodic tenancy may be given under section 21 (1) following the expiry of the fixed term. Section 21(4) applies where there has never been a fixed term, e.g. a contractual periodic tenancy from the outset, or where the term is expressed at the outset to continue on a contractual periodic basis, but neither of these are statutory periodic tenancies. The note does not make it clear that although a notice served under s21 (4) may not expire earlier than a notice to quit could, a statutory quarterly periodic tenancy (under the current interpretation of the Housing Act 1988) may, in our view, be brought to an end by giving two months’ notice under Section 21 (1).

China housing market shows signs of recovery

As Chinese policymakers struggle to arrest a slowdown in growth, July home price data looks likely to confirm the housing market as a rare counterpoint to a growing list of grim economic indicators.

Property sales bottomed out in January-June after declining for more than a year, propped up by a barrage of government support measures since last September, including a series of interest rate cuts and lower down-payment requirements.

There are indications that the pace of recovery may be quickening in the housing market, which accounts for about 15 percent of the economy.

On Sunday, the country's biggest property developer, China Vanke Co Ltd , said its half-year core profit climbed 5.5 percent, and trumpeted the "emergence and growth of massive new property demand".

"It'll take time, but it's confirmed that a recovery is ongoing," Vanke's president Yu Liang told reporters on Monday.

Data from researchers at China Real Estate Index System show Vanke is backing that prognosis with cash, spending 30 percent more on land purchases in January-July than in the same year-ago period.

There have been precious few triggers for investment in recent economic data releases.

Exports have tumbled, investment growth has hit repeated lows and the stock market crashed 30 percent in a matter of weeks, keeping policymakers busy with an unprecedented slew of support measures, including a currency devaluation and repeated attempts to increase lending.

Even if China hits its official target this year, economic growth would hit a 25-year low of 7 percent.

Big Cities Lead the Way

In the housing market, which hit the skids after previous heavy-handed efforts to cool a speculative bubble, the support measures appear to be bearing fruit.

"It's the policy that makes it possible to buy my second apartment. Without lower down-payments, I couldn't make the decision this time," said 33-year-old tourism worker Lilian Liu, who bought a second home in the eastern city of Hangzhou last month, helped by money she made in the stock market before the crash.

Though overall real estate investment growth continued to slow in January-July, property sales and housing investment improved, which Li Jiao, senior statistician at the National Bureau of Statistics, said would fuel growth in total property investment in the coming months.

Prices in first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have been leading the recovery.

"I've been watching the housing market for several months," said a Beijing lawyer who gave his surname as Wang. "Upward is surely the direction of home prices in Beijing. A recent recovery in transactions helped me sell my first flat quickly and got the money to buy another one," he said.

Source: Reuters 18th August (Reporting by Xiaoyi Shao and Kevin Yao; Writing by Will Waterman; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)