This is a post we have been meaning to write since July, but which, like so many things, has been delayed because of COVID. What a different world we live in now! We hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.
So much has changed, and so much is still is in flux, regarding private rental sector legislation. Just a few days ago came the announcement that the Justice Secretary has asked bailiffs’ trade associations to halt evictions in Tier 2 and Tier 3 Lockdown areas.
The Section 21 notice has been in danger for some time (see Abolishing Section 21). The big issue now is the ever-increasing time to serve official notices, with the most recent estimate for court case backlogs being 65,000+ possession cases. Currently, the notice period has been extended from 3 to 6 months until the end of March 2021 – this can be extended, too. Here is a great post from Woodstock Property Law with a handy table that will tell you what you need to know.
Understandably, many landlords, both new and old, are concerned about the new legislation and practical matters. The top 3 questions are:
- How quickly can you fill my property?
- What is the rental that can be achieved?
- Will my bigger property be void for longer now?
Here are our answers.
How quickly can you fill my property?
We are still aiming to fill your property within two weeks, but the reality is that there is currently less demand and an overcapacity in the market. According to Hamptons International data, rents are down by as much as a third in some central postcodes. Students are opting to work from home, as are new starters in workplaces.
Our answer to this question is the same as it has always been: We are better than other agents because we respond more quickly to enquiries and have good relationships with our existing tenants, so there is no bottleneck regarding access to properties. How quickly we can fill your property also depends upon your flexibility and promptness in responding to offers received.
What is the rental that can be achieved?
We are seeing rental prices drop across the main boroughs we serve: Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Southwark and the City of Westminster. As agents, we help you negotiate the best rent and balance any lower rental offers with, for example, longer, fixed-term contracts, so there is longer income security for you. We proactively review the market on a weekly basis and keep our eye on our competition, enabling us to swiftly adjust our marketing strategy and keep you informed instead of the many properties lingering for months with no movement.
Will my bigger property be void for longer now?
Unfortunately, yes. Increasingly, tenants are moving away from sharing set-ups because of the need to social distance. Tenants want smaller properties with outdoor spaces, and usually with an extra bedroom that can be converted into an office space as companies announce plans to extend working-from-home arrangements into the summer of 2021.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are still opportunities for letting larger properties, as some extended families are looking to move in together to keep costs down and for companionship in these very challenging times.