Wednesday, 11 May 2022

4,586 Royal Tunbridge Wells Terraced Houses - Why Are They So Popular?


The terraced house is one of the most familiar styles of home in Tunbridge Wells (and the UK as a whole).

18.4% of Tunbridge Wells people live in a terraced home,

interesting when compared with the national average of 22.7%.


So, what is it about the humble terraced/townhouse us Brits love so much? In this article, I look at the history of the terraced house, how it relates to Tunbridge Wells and what the future holds for terraced homes.


A terraced house is a property built as part of a continuous row of three (or more) properties in a similar and uniform style.


The reason the British call them "terraced houses"; and not "row houses"; came about because 18th century British architects borrowed the phrase "terrace"; from "terraced gardens’.


Terraced gardens were known for their uniform nature (in looks, style and height etc.), so the architects decided to name them the same way as opposed to a "row house". In fact, in most countries, they are called "row houses".


The terraced house originated in the Low Countries of Europe in the late 1500s.


Terraced houses were first built en-masse in the UK after the Great Fire of 1666 with the rebuilding of London. 


They became fashionable for the landed gentry in the early Georgian era with chic and stylish terraces appearing in London's Mayfair and Bath with its Queen Square (the forerunner of the famous Royal Crescent) and were sometimes built around a garden square.


However, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that the terraced house turned out to be the solution to the increasing population of the towns as more and more people were attracted to towns and cities for work.


The terraced house fell out of favour with the upper-middle classes in the late Victorian age (1870’s onwards) as they wanted more privacy and space. They moved to live in detached houses or semi-detached villas, as the terrace house had started to become associated with the lower-middle and working classes.


With all these terraced houses being built, their quality of construction and design dropped as builders tried to squeeze more profit. The biggest issue was that most of the terraced houses built in the early to mid-Victorian age (1840s to 1870s) were made back-to-back with no rear garden, causing unsanitary conditions. Therefore, the Public Health Act of 1875 was introduced to regulate the building of terraced houses with design and standards. 


These new building standards in the Act improved the terraced house’s ventilation and, more importantly, required the house to have a toilet (frequently built outside). To meet these new building standards, the designs of these new houses created the well-known landscape of ‘grid' streets lined with two-storey terraces serviced by a pedestrian path between them, the name of which is a hotly debated topic. The various names for the pathway include alleyway / jitty / cut/ ginnel / snicket / passageway / ten foot / five foot/witchel / lonnin / vennel.


As a Tunbridge Wells resident, why not say what you call them in the comments?


As we entered the 20th Century, the terrace house continued to be popular, albeit with some new architectural additions.


The advent of Arts and Craft architecture with stain glass windows, Tudor style cladding, ornate porches, and elaborate chimney stacks.


After the First World War and the introduction of the Housing and Town Planning Act 1919 (which made local councils build council houses), the Victorian terraced rapidly became associated with overcrowding and slums (especially those back-to-back terraced houses built before 1875). Many of the back-to-back terraced houses were knocked down between

1930 and 1960 in what is known as the slum clearances.


Private builders started building the iconic suburban semi-detached houses with more extensive gardens, and local authorities decided to build high-rise blocks after World War II. Yet after the partial collapse of Ronan Point in 1968, the popularity of high-rise tower blocks waned.


Since the early 1990s though, the terraced house has steadily come back into favour as building land prices have increased by 322% in the last 30 years.


Many private builders have started to build modern three-storey townhouses in rows of five to seven. This terraced "townhouse-style" allows three and four bedrooms on a land footprint that would have usually only accommodated a smaller two-bed property.


So, let's look at some interesting stats on Tunbridge Wells terraced houses.


  • There are 4,586 terraced houses in Tunbridge Wells (broken down as 3,062 privately owned terraced houses, 763 terraced council houses and 761 in the private rented sector)
  • 16.6% of terraced houses in Tunbridge Wells are in the private rented sector, which is below the national average of 19.1%
  • The most expensive terraced house in Tunbridge Wells ever sold was on Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells for £1,670,000 in 2017
  • The cheapest Tunbridge Wells terraced house sold in the last two years was on Pennine Walk, a three-bed terraced house for £170,000
  • Terraced houses in Tunbridge Wells sell for an average of £393 per square foot


I hope you found that thought-provoking?


So, why is the terraced house, be it a red brick Victorian house or a more modern three- storey townhouse, still popular today in Tunbridge Wells?


They are typically well built, cheaper to maintain (especially the older terraced houses), comparatively spacious, and in good locations. Many terraced houses have been improved and extended through the inventive use of rear gardens/yards and converted roof spaces; their unpretentious design remains adaptable enough for 21st century living; what isn't

there to like about them?


These are my thoughts; tell me your thoughts about the humble yet versatile Tunbridge Wells terraced house.




Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Why Does it Take 112 Days to Get the Keys When You Buy a Royal Tunbridge Wells House?


1,105 properties have sold in the Royal Tunbridge Wells area in the last 12 months.


It only takes 63 days to sell a Royal Tunbridge Wells home, so why does it take 112 days from the sold board going up to the buyer getting the keys?


With a shortage of solicitors and a sub-standard conveyancing system, this article discusses what Royal Tunbridge Wells house sellers (and buyers) can do to speed up the house buying process.


Nationally, the average length of time it takes from agreeing the sale of a property to the keys being handed over is 111 days (down from 117 days last year), and in Royal Tunbridge Wells we come in at 112 days – pretty much on par with that national average.


So why does it take 16 weeks, when all that is required is the lawyers to look at some paperwork and get a mortgage? Also, what can Royal Tunbridge Wells homebuyers and sellers do to speed this up?  


The legal process to buy and sell a UK property is called conveyancing. The conveyancing system itself hasn’t really changed in hundreds of years. After the housing market was reopened after the first lockdown in the spring of 2020, the property market returned with a bang, helped on with the stamp duty holiday. 


In 2021, the number of properties selling in Royal Tunbridge Wells in some months went up massively, e.g., by 96% June 2021 and by 65% in March 2021. Many conveyancers and solicitors had to sort the legal paperwork out for upwards of 120 to 150 properties each at any one time.


This glut of sold properties caused by the pandemic that needed legal work to be sorted exacerbated a problem already present in the conveyancing industry.


For years conveyancers have complained of overwork and underpay. Conveyancing is seen as the Cinderella of the legal profession. This workload was the straw that broke the camel’s back, making many conveyancers leave the profession and go into better paid legal work like corporate work.


Also, the legal process of conveyancing has built-in inefficiencies, and the conveyancing profession has been relatively slow to innovate. However, there are some excellent tech solutions that are being slowly rolled out across the industry to make the process more efficient and effective. 


What can Royal Tunbridge Wells home buyers and sellers do to speed up their property sale?


If you are buying or selling your Royal Tunbridge Wells property as we speak, you won’t be able to wait for the conveyancing profession to be revamped, yet you can be as pre-emptive as possible to get your Royal Tunbridge Wells house sale through earlier. 


In a nutshell, ensure you have all the paperwork sorted on your Royal Tunbridge Wells home before you put your home on the market. Next, get the ball rolling on your mortgage. If you receive some paperwork, read it, check it, sign it and send it back in a day, do not leave it a week; finally, always communicate frequently with your estate agent and conveyancer.


When you instruct a solicitor, most will request money to start the ball rolling for searches and disbursements. They won’t lift a finger until that is paid. 


You will have to prove who you are in the conveyancing process, so your conveyancer will ask you to show them proof of ID and address. If you are buying, they will need to prove you have the funds/deposit to buy the home (and if your deposit is coming from family/friends, then they are required to write a letter to that effect).


How can the house buying and selling process be improved?


A couple of years ago, the Government set up the Home Buying and Selling Group to find the answer to this problem. Chaired by the well-known property guru Kate Faulkner, it is looking at an amalgamated Seller’s Information Pack (SIPs) and an IT-based single platform to share and communicate that SIP between buyers, sellers, their conveyancers, the estate agent, mortgage providers and brokers and finally surveyors.


The advantage of the SIP is that it can be created before the buyer has been found, meaning property buyers would be more knowledgeable when making an offer. Also, once the sale has been agreed upon, the SIP could be sent straightaway electronically to the buyers’ legal team (from the seller’s legal team) to start the procedure of asking for searches and raising inquiries. 


The bottom line is the conveyancing process is not fit for purpose in the 21st century and change is on the horizon.


So, before the SIP becomes mandatory, there are things everyone can do to ensure they get the home of their dreams quicker. 


At my agency, I recommend the seller, us as the agent and the conveyancer start to liaise with each other to get the key information on the property being sold as quickly as possible. Then once a buyer is found, I believe it is vital we, as the agent, regularly communicate with all the stakeholders in the chain to ensure everyone is playing their part to expedite the sale. 


In the future, utilising technology and every agent/conveyancer preparing information upfront with the SIP will drastically reduce the time it takes between agreeing a sale and the keys/monies handed over. 


The conveyancing process will have to change to meet the needs of the 21st century, but how long that will take is the big question.


If you would like to chat with me about how we do things differently to ensure your property not only gets the best price and how we do all we can, as agents, to expedite a smooth sale for your Royal Tunbridge Wells property, do not hesitate to pick up the phone to me or drop me a line at the office.

 

Sunday, 3 April 2022

How Will Rising Inflation Affect the Tunbridge Wells Property Market in 2022?

 


The UK is currently experiencing its highest inflation rate since the early 1990s. This increase in prices has primally come about by the combination of an increase in demand for goods and services from consumers following lockdown last year together with global supply chain disruptions.

Most economists weren't too concerned about this increase in the inflation rate as the very same thing happened in the early 1990s following the Credit Crunch with a similar rise in demand and supply chain issues. Thankfully, back in the early 1990s, inflation returned to lower levels quite quickly. However, the situation in Eastern Europe now could change matters.

So, let me look at all the factors and what it means for the Tunbridge Wells property market.

The crisis in Eastern Europe has sparked even further rises in crude oil, (which diesel and petrol are made from) gas and grain prices as pressure on supply chains around the world increases.

In my previous articles, I suggested UK inflation would rise to around 7% in the spring and drop back to 5% in the autumn and as we entered 2023, be approximately 3% to 4%.

Yet, with these issues, inflation could rise to 8% to 9% by late spring and still be around 6% to 7% in autumn, well above the Bank of England's target of 2%.

With Tunbridge Wells wages rising at only 3% to 4% and inflation at 7%+,

Tunbridge Wells household incomes, in real terms, will fall.

This is because ‘real’ UK household incomes characteristically have been the most consistent lead indicator of growth (or a drop) in house prices. This is because growing inflation erodes the value of money you earn, which reduces its buying power. When the cash in your pocket has a lower spending power, people tend to spend less when they buy (and rent) a home (and vice versa).

Next month, Income Tax thresholds will be frozen, and National Insurance contributions are increasing. Collectively, all these issues will create a drop of around 2% to 2.5% in the real disposable incomes of Britain's households in 2022 (real disposable income - somebody's take-home wages after tax and then the effects of inflation are considered).

Will Tunbridge Wells people be more anxious to spend their money?

With less money in people's pockets, people's inclination to spend the money they do have could also be curtailed. People's savings are at an all-time high, yet many will decide to sit on the cash, instead of spending it, especially as consumer confidence has dropped to minus 26 on the GfK index (whatever that means – but in all seriousness though - more on that below).

All this can only mean there is going to be a house price crash.

It’s all doom and gloom! … Or is it?

My heart goes out to people caught up in the awful humanitarian crisis in Eastern Europe. Yet, I respectfully need to put that to one side for just a moment for the purpose of this article.

This blog is about the Tunbridge Wells property market, and Tunbridge Wells people want to know what will happen to the Tunbridge Wells property market.

In the first half of the article, I looked at the impending fall in real disposable incomes of 2% to 2.5% in 2022. I appreciate it's going to be tough for many families in Tunbridge Wells. Yet, it is always important to consider what has happened in previous times.

1982 – a drop of 2.3% in real disposable income

1992 – a drop of 3.7% in real disposable income

2008 – a drop of 5.8% in real disposable income

Yes, it's going to be tough, yet we got through 1982, 1992 and 2008 – and so we shall in 2022/23.

Next, the price of petrol is very high compared to a year ago.

The average price of unleaded petrol is £1.51/litre today, quite a jump from the £1.21/litre a year ago. But, here is an interesting fact, petrol was a lot more expensive (in real terms) in 2011 than today. In TODAY's money, a litre of unleaded petrol in 2011 would be the equivalent of £1.79/litre.

We have some way to go before we get to those levels – and again, the Tunbridge Wells economy (and property market) kicked on quite nicely after 2011.

What are Tunbridge Wells people spending on their rent and mortgages?


Housing costs - owner occupiers were spending on average 17.3% of their household income on mortgages in 2015, yet in 2021 this had risen, albeit to 17.7% - not a huge increase.

Council house (social) tenants have seen a drop in their rent from 29.2% in 2015 to 26.7% in 2021, whilst private tenants from 36.4% in 2015 to 31.2% in 2021.

Interesting that private tenants are proportionally 14.29% better off in 2021 than in 2015.

How we spend our money - the average UK home spent 4.2% of their household income on energy in 2021, and that is due to rise to 6.3% after April (and probably 7% in October). Yet, as a country, we spend 9% of our income on restaurants and hotels and 8% on recreation and culture. As with all aspects of life, it will mean choices, and maybe we will have to forego some luxuries?

Just before I move on from this aspect of the article, again I appreciate I am talking in averages. Many people with low incomes suffer from fuel poverty and they will find the increases in energy prices hard – my thoughts go out to you.

Interest rates - higher inflation is generally brought under control using higher interest rates, meaning mortgage payments will be higher.

First, 79% of homeowners with a mortgage are on a fixed rate, so any rise won't be instantaneous. Yet, there will be a bizarre side effect from the issues in Eastern Europe. Surprisingly, though the current situation in Eastern Europe, by its very nature, will bring greater UK inflation, it will also probably defer the Bank of England raising interest rates. This means mortgage rates won't increase as much as the bank won't want to exacerbate any pressures to the UK economy in 2023/24 caused by the conflict.

The stock market had priced an interest rate rise to 2% by the end of 2022. I suspect this will now be no more than 1% to 1.25% by Christmas, slowly going up in quarters of one per cent every few months. The crisis in Eastern Europe might even come to be seen as a defence for higher inflation throughout 2022, all meaning everyone's mortgage will be less.

Next, looking at Consumer Confidence Indexes - these indexes are fickle things. I prefer to look at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Consumer Confidence Index as it has a larger sample range and a longer time frame to compare against. Looking at the data from the mid 1970s, the drop in consumer confidence is big, yet nothing like the drops seen in the Oil Crisis of the mid 1970s, Recession of the early 1980s, ERM crisis of 1992 and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/09. Also, when compared to the other main economies of the world (G7), the UK has always bounced back much more quickly from recessions when it comes to consumer confidence.




What about house prices in Tunbridge Wells in 2022/23?

Increasing energy prices, rising inflation, an increase of sanctions, and a probable drop in consumer confidence and spending in the aftermath of the conflict will knock the post-pandemic recovery globally, which will lead to a recession around the world, including the UK.

A recession is when a country’s GDP drops in two consecutive quarters. For the last 300 years, there has been a direct link between British house prices and GDP – (i.e. when GDP drops, UK house prices fall). Yet in 2020, the British GDP dropped by nearly 12%, yet house prices went the other way.

But, let’s look at what would happen if Tunbridge Wells’ house prices did drop by the same extent they did in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/09.

House prices in Tunbridge Wells dropped by 18.1% in the Global Financial Crisis, the biggest drop in house prices over 16 months ever recorded in the UK.

The average value of a property in Tunbridge Wells today is £419,429.

Meaning if Tunbridge Wells' house prices dropped by the same percentage in the next 16 months, an average home locally would only be worth £343,512.

On the face of it, not good – until you realise that it would only take us back to Tunbridge Wells house prices being achieved in April 2016.

Yes, that will mean if they do drop in price, the 8.9% of Tunbridge Wells homeowners who have moved home since April 2016 would lose out if they sold after that price crash. But how many people move home after only being in their home for a few years? Not many!

The simple fact is that 91.1% of Tunbridge Wells homeowners will be better off when they move if house prices crash.

And all this assumes there will be a crash.

The simple fact is, the circumstances of 2009 that caused the property crash are entirely different to 2022 (no lending by the banks, higher interest rates and increasing unemployment compared to today’s increased lending, ultra-low interest rates and low unemployment environment).

I do believe with all that's happening in the world we might see a rebalancing of the Tunbridge Wells property market later in 2022 and could see the odd month with little negative growth in house prices, yet it will be nothing like 2009.

The expected fall in household spending could be counterbalanced by UK businesses’ plans to invest more in their businesses (with last year’s tax breaks on investing), which will create even more jobs.

Who knows what the future holds? These are just my opinions – what are yours?

Sunday, 13 March 2022

Royal Tunbridge Wells Household Heating Bills Set to Rise to £39,407,130 in 2022


The energy bills of every Tunbridge Wells resident will rise in April as the price cap increases to account for the global increase in the cost of gas. Those not on the gas mains will still be hit as the UK uses gas to make 45% of its electricity.

So, what can Tunbridge Wells residents do to reduce their energy consumption and ultimately save money?

Firstly, let's look at the scale of the costs.

Considering the increase in energy prices from April, the combined energy bills for the whole of Tunbridge Wells come to …

• £39,407,130 for central heating
• £7,901,362 for hot water
• £4,293,976 for lighting

There are extra energy costs for washing, fridges, etc., yet I wanted to focus just on the home as this is a property blog.

Everyone's bills will be around 50% more expensive in 2022 than in 2021, but it’s not too late for Tunbridge Wells people to take some quick steps to cut their energy bills and, at the same time, cut our carbon footprint. 

Just over a quarter of the UK’s carbon comes from heating and lighting our 27.6 million homes, and each UK home produces

4.39 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Upgrading the energy efficiency of UK homes is seen as a vital step to attempting to mitigate the issues of climate change, fuel poverty and our nation's energy security.

So, what are some quick wins for Tunbridge Wells residents to reduce the energy bills on their homes, and how will energy efficiency play a more significant part in the value of Tunbridge Wells homes in the future?

1. By turning down the thermostat by 1 degree, the average saving would be an average annual saving of £105.91 per home and each homes carbon dioxide would be reduced by an eighth of a tonne (it all adds up!)
2. Replacing your bulbs when you can with energy-efficient bulbs will, on averagereduce your lighting costs from £172 per year to £103 per year.
3. What time does your heating come on and off? Could it come on later and go off earlier?  
4. Smart meters (which are installed for free) are estimated to help lower UK homes electricity use by nearly 3% and gas use by 2% … again it’s all margin gains.

These are just a handful of ideas. Check out the internet for others as it's fascinating how much energy we use for overfull kettles, chargers left on and tech on standby etc.

Yet, these things will only scratch the surface … many of us will need to go further, especially Tunbridge Wells landlords, to retrofit our properties to make them more energy-efficient. 

This is particularly important as in June the Government announced they would make the country carbon neutral by 2050, meaning Britain’s homes need some enormous retro-fitting to meet these ambitious climate targets.

In 2018, the Government required private landlords to improve the energy rating of their rental properties by prohibiting the rental of any property with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F and G (the lowest ratings). Yet from 2025, that will be increased to C for all new tenancies and 2028 for all existing tenancies (more on these EPCs below).

I don’t believe there is an appetite to mandate private homeowners to do this work, though you never know in the future.

So, how do you find out about your

Tunbridge Wells home’s eco-credentials?

Since 2007, every new home that has been built, rented out or put on to the market in Tunbridge Wells has had to have an EPC, giving it a rating between A and G (rather like those stickers you see on fridges and washing machines). 

A is the highest rating (i.e. best energy efficient and greener), and G is the worst efficient rating. 

36.1% of Tunbridge Wells homes are in that eco-friendly A to C

energy performance band rating, compared to the

national average of 40.1%.

So, what next? Well, the Government will attempt to make the green revolution as painless as possible with technology.

In the future, we might have hydrogen central heating instead of mains gas; or have solar panels for electricity, all triple glazed windows and even ground source heating - sounds fanciful? Well, who would have thought some of the most wanted cars would be electric 20 years ago?

There is no doubt that the energy efficiency of our homes will rise in the coming years as the cost of fuel increases and people's opinion on going green changes. 

You don’t need to spend thousands of pounds to find out what you can do to make your property greener and cost less. Look at your EPC and it will tell you what small changes you can make to improve your Tunbridge Wells home’s energy efficiency rating and ultimately save yourself money. If you want to find the EPC rating of your Tunbridge Wells home, go to epcregister.com

If you need an EPC, drop me a line as I know some great local energy assessors that can easily do an EPC on your property at a price that won't cost the earth!

 

1,247 Royal Tunbridge Wells Landlords Could Be Hit With £14k Bills and Red Tape in Tory 'Levelling Up' Plans

  Some Tunbridge Wells landlords face bills of between £11,000 to £14,000 as Michael Gove, the Housing Minister, declared an attack on poor quality private rental homes.


1,247 Tunbridge Wells rental properties will require upgrading. The Government announced in their ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper last week they plan to introduce a new minimum standard for private rental properties.

Also, the White Paper wants every landlord in Tunbridge Wells (5,353 of you) to go on a Landlord Register and proposes the removal of Section 21 no-fault evictions. This could make it more difficult for you to get possession of your Tunbridge Wells rental property.

Are these proposed changes another nail in the buy-to-let coffin for Tunbridge Wells landlords?

On the face of it, yes, it could be seen as another attack on the humble Tunbridge Wells landlord, having to spend money on their properties and get tangled up with red tape on a register and then having no-fault evictions removed. 


Yet, as always, the devil is in the detail ...


This ‘Levelling Up Bill’ is a White Paper. White Papers are policy documents created by the existing Government that set out their future proposals for legislation. Many White Papers don’t even make it to the House of Commons to be debated on, and even then, it needs to be voted on by both Houses of Parliament before becoming law. Any changes are at least two or three years away, and that’s assuming that it gets debated and subsequently approved.


Many have said the White Paper is supposed to lay out how to sort the challenge of rebalancing the UK economy that is suffering from the highest level of regional inequality than any G8 country. This is a gargantuan challenge …


yet the Levelling Up White Paper reads very much like a shopping list of great ideas without the means to pay for it.


One of the 12 points in the White Paper was focusing on housing, with a plan to introduce a new minimum standard for rental properties, a landlord register and the removal of no-fault evictions (as an aside, there was also a mention of a possible reintroduction of Home Information Packs - remember those from 2009!).



So, what does this mean for the landlords of the 5,353

private rental properties in Tunbridge Wells?


Sub Standard Rental Properties


The proposed changes will mean rental homes in the private sector will have to meet two specific standards that the existing 3,725 social housing homes in Tunbridge Wells currently need to meet.


The first being called the ‘Decent Homes Standard’ (DHS) and the second, the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) evaluation. 


Looking at data from the Government, there are 1,247 private rental properties in Tunbridge Wells that are considered substandard under these two measures and each one would cost between £11,000 and £14,000 to bring up to the prescribed standard. That means ...


the estimated total cost to improve the 1,247 Tunbridge Wells properties, that are considered substandard, could be as high as £17,461,486.


All of that would have to come out of the pockets of Tunbridge Wells landlords!

Yet both systems of standards (DHS & HHSRS) have been slated by many (even by the Government itself). 

The DHS criteria for the standard are as follows:

1. It must meet the current statutory minimum standard for housing

2. It must be in a reasonable state of repair

3. It must have reasonably modern facilities and services

4. It must provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort


Note how the word ‘reasonable’ is used in three of the four points of the DHS. Reasonable is an arbitrary and a very much subjective point of view. It screams loopholes and get out clauses to me.


Looking at the HHSRS, the Government announced just before the pandemic in June 2019 that the HHSRS would be revamped after it was found to be ‘complicated and inefficient to use’.

Putting aside how one measures the standards, it is a simple fact that there are many Tunbridge Wells rental properties that are substandard. I believe it right the Government have an ambition to halve the number of sub-standard private rentals by 2030. However, would it surprise you that … 


in 2006, 46.7% of private rented homes in the UK were classed as substandard and today that has reduced, without any legislation, to 23.3%. One must ask if new legislation is now required?

Also, if you recall in an article I wrote recently (drop me line if you would like me to send it to you), Tunbridge Wells landlords will be faced with bringing their properties up to an energy rating (EPC) of C between 2026 and 2028 in legislation already announced. 

Most of the works to meet that EPC rating requirement will be the same works to meet this new DHS and HHSRS. Also, in that article, I discussed how the Government have suggested that certain allowances will be made for landlords on rental properties that can’t be improved. 

So, I think Tunbridge Wells landlords should sit tight and let the Government shine more light on this in the coming months before any knee jerk reactions are made.

Landlord Register

To be honest, there are several city/borough registers around the UK for landlords. Experience has shown they seem to add an extra level of bureaucracy and red tape. The register would be for every Tunbridge Wells buy-to-let landlord and rogue landlords would be struck off whilst allowing tenants new redress rights. Another reason to employ the services of a letting agent to sort!  

End of No-fault Evictions

Again, I spoke about this a few weeks ago with the proposed removal of Section 21 to evict a tenant (again, if you want a copy, drop me a line). If you recall, I stated that no-fault evictions were removed in Scotland over four years ago and the apocalyptic suggestions it would kill the rental market for Scottish landlords was not forthcoming. Now of course, the Scots strengthened the other grounds to evict a tenant. If the Government strengthen the Section 8 legislation, again, I cannot see this being an issue south of the border. Again, time will tell once the Government put more meat on the bones of the White Paper. 

Conclusion


Many of the announcements made in the Levelling Up White Paper are re-hashed proposed legislation that has been on the books for the last couple of years.


This White Paper is not another nail in the coffin of

buy-to-let in Tunbridge Wells.


Yet, many commentators have cautioned that more landlords with substandard homes will sell up because of these proposed changes, warning the sell up would add to the private rental sector's shortage of homes, thus pushing up rents. 

If that was true, that would increase rental returns on Tunbridge Wells buy-to-let and attract more landlords into the sector, wouldn’t it?


But if you don’t agree that other local landlords will buy these rental properties that other landlords are selling, who will buy their Tunbridge Wells properties from them? It will be Tunbridge Wells renters, who are now able to buy because the price has come down, meaning equilibrium should return to the market.  

This is all theoretical and there are shortages/gluts in specific locations. Let us not forget it was 12/18 months ago that rents were dropped by double digit percentage points in the space of a couple of months in the big cities. Those rent drops weren’t anything to do with landlords buying up City Centre rental properties, but demand plummeted with 20 something tenants moving back in with their parents during the first lockdown and the months that followed. Yet, now rents have bounced back to pre-pandemic levels (and more) with the return of tenants to the cities.


In a nutshell, if Tunbridge Wells landlords do end up selling in their droves (which they won’t), yet if they do, those Tunbridge Wells properties will still exist.


Few of them will be left empty because most of them will be bought by other Tunbridge Wells landlords as they will be attracted to the sector as inflation takes hold whilst others will be bought by first-time buyers.


What goes around, comes around. So, let’s see what happens in the coming months. In the meantime, if you’re a Tunbridge Wells landlord and you want to discuss anything in this article, please either drop me a line or send me an email.