Weekly landlord news digest: Issue 11

Property news is constantly changing, which can be a headache for busy landlords. To keep you up to date with the latest news Hamilton Fraser produce a weekly news digest to keep you updated with the news that matters!

This week’s landlord news digest investigates whether a house price slowdown could be good for landlords, a HMRC stamp duty claim rejected in a tax tribunal case, a think-tank that wants four-year tenancies and a warning from the Universities Minister for landlords to stop exploiting student tenants.

House price slowdown could be good news for landlords

A house price slowdown could be good news for landlords looking to add more properties to their rental portfolios.

Sellers are faced with trying to shift their homes to the lowest number of buyers to hit the market for seven years, says trade body the National Association of Estate Agents.

The number of active buyers has plunged 18 per cent from 309 to 252 a branch in the year to February and is 15 per cent down from 297 in January.

This is the worst showing since July 2013, when each branch mustered an average 250 buyers.

At the same time, average house prices are falling.

The Office for National Statistics posted a 1.7 per cent house price increase for the year to January – down from 2.2 per cent in December.

Overall, the house price climate could make a purchase offer from a landlord a worthwhile proposition for many sellers.

What are your plans for your property portfolio this coming year? Let us know at @TotalLandlord

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Give students better homes, urges minister

Bad landlords must stop exploiting students by giving them poor homes to live in, Universities Minister Chris Skidmore has warned.

Skidmore says that some figures suggest one in five students live in terrible conditions, including homes infested by rats, mice and slugs.

A survey by the National Union of Students also revealed 40 per cent of students lived in properties affected by damp, condensation and mould, while 36 per cent admitted their living conditions made them anxious or depressed. Read more about the survey here.

The minister is campaigning to make students aware of new housing laws that give them the right to take landlords to court if they fail to repair serious health and safety defects.

“Students’ time at university should be some of the best days of their lives and yet I have heard appalling stories of students living in terrible conditions, which can affect their studies and even their mental health,” said Skidmore

“While there are many landlords who do take their responsibilities seriously, for too long rogue private landlords have been exploiting vulnerable students by failing to provide even basic standards of living. Now the time is up for these landlords making a profit from shoddy accommodation. These new regulations make landlords more accountable, helping to improve standards, and students should use their powers to make sure landlords face justice where they’re not fulfilling their responsibilities.”

– Chris Skidmore, Universities Minister

HMRC stamp duty claim rejected by judge

Buyers may not have to pay enhanced stamp duty rates on a home that is unsuitable to live in, according to a recent tax tribunal case.

Paul and Nikki Bewley successfully appealed a £7,500 enhanced duty claim from HMRC at the First Tier Tribunal and won. However, decisions at the tribunal are not binding on other courts.

They argued a derelict bungalow with asbestos problems and no boiler or heating was not a home because they could not move in and easily live there.

The couple bought the dilapidated property in Weston super Mare for £200,000, intending to demolish the home and build another.

They paid £1,500 stamp duty at the non-residential rate, but HMRC argued the property was a home even if they could not live there.

They appealed the assessment and won, with the judge ruling a property had to be suitable to live in on purchase, not at some time in the future, to qualify for enhanced stamp duty rates.