PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: Tenant Fees Act | Haart, Halifax

In today’s news, Andrew Stanton discusses calls to amend the Tenant Fees Act to be inclusive of pets, the new hybrid agency model by Haart, and the slowing house price inflation.

Daily bite-sized proptech and property news in partnership with Estate Agent Networking & NewsNow.

Rental tug of war over the right to keep pets

Activists and pet lovers have long hoped that the Government would look again at the terms of the 2019 Tenant Fees Act, as they want tenants to be able to have pets in their rental accommodation. They had hoped that a larger deposit would be the vehicle that would safeguard landlords against any unexpected damage or costs.

However, the government scuppered this initiative. Spokesperson Eddie Hughes, replying to a question in Parliament, said that the act “introduced a cap of five weeks’ rent for properties with an annual rent below £50,000, and banned most letting fees charged to tenants.”

The MP then went on to say, in what is a slightly illogical argument, that “the five-week cap should be considered the maximum, rather than the default amount charged…this approach should therefore accommodate private renters who wish to keep pets, without the need for a separate pet deposit. The government has no plans  at this time  to amend the Tenant Fees Act 2019.”

Given that it is common practice to take the five weeks as a standard deposit, it just shows that unless a bright Whitehall civil servant spoon feeds ministers, they can make silly gaffes without the correct briefing notes.

Property News

Aylesbury Property Centre by Haart to open by month-end

Nowadays, it appears as though there are more types of estate agency models than ever before. Gone are the days where there were two models of being an agent.

Model one was a huge corporate behemoth like Countrywide. Model two was the independent agent, hyper localised with a local team.

Now we have online agents with no premises and no perimeter, like Purplebricks and Strike, or franchise-type agents, some with offices and others without, like Keller Williams or eXp.

In Aylesbury, about an hour north of London, we will soon be seeing SpicerHaart’s newest incarnation of the estate agency; the Aylesbury Property Centre by Haart. This model sees employed agents based at home who utilise a localised Property Centre.

This new idea dreamed up by the SpicerHaart team during the lockdown hopes that as many as 250 new agents will jump on board across the UK in similar hubs.

Sure, new initiatives are great, but the increasingly tech-savvy public is ‘doing’ property themselves, so what will the final version of the modern agency look like by the end of the decade?

Will we see artificial intelligence and machine learning-led agencies, or a network of Property Centres full of humans tapping away at keyboards?

Property News: Shaun Dodson, Haart
Shaun Dodson, Haart’s new area partner for Aylesbury

The average house price is now £262,954, but house price inflation begins to slow

Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, stated in the Evening Standard that last month’s price rise was “relatively modest…”

He said: “The annual rate of house price inflation continued to slow, hitting a five-month low of 7.1% (versus 7.6% in July). However, compared to June 2020, when the housing market began to reopen from the first lockdown, prices remain more than £23,600 higher (or +9.9%).”

The average house price in the UK now stands at £262,954, a long way from the 4.5 times the annual income for many borrowers looking to get on the housing ladder.

Galley then went on to say that “with a supply of properties for sale that looks increasingly tight, and barring any reimposition of lockdown measures or a significant increase in unemployment as job support schemes are unwound later this year, these factors should continue to support prices in the near-term.”

So, to unpack this statement, it would seem Galley is saying that if lockdown does not rear its ugly head in October, the labour shortage outweighs any unemployment at furlough’s end, and the number of properties being listed means it is still a vendors market, then the housing market will be OK. 

Though bricks and mortar over the long term cannot be beaten, there may well be a few other hidden factors coming to the fore before we sit down for a turkey this Christmas…that is to say if supply chains for food allow it. 

Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.

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