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Mixed messages regarding lettings and notice periods reverting back to normal
In what is seen as good news by many, as of the 1st of October 2021, the normal notice timescales or notice periods which accompany serving a Section 8 or Section 21 will apply. So, everything will go back to how it was pre-pandemic and prior to the Coronavirus Act 2020, which pushed out notice periods to half a year.
Worryingly though, the government website says that it will keep the power to change things back to a pandemic type footing and lengthen periods of notice if the public health situation changes, citing the 25th of March 2022 as the latest date that it has powers to do so.
Are we to read into this that the cat and mouse game of being able to give notice to tenants will be starting up again in October in earnest? To start proceedings in September could mean a slower resolution to disputes. But at any moment the hammer may come down again as perhaps the government is sensing the need for an Autumn lockdown or circuit breaker.
Earnestly I hope this not to be the case, but it is very hard to second guess what goes on behind those closed doors in Whitehall.
Fallout from RICS independent review lands at the feet of law firm
Now the RICS scandal has seen the light of day, a glut of opinion pieces and dissections are emerging. This weekend, an excellent piece in The Times picked through the independent review and said that, in Alison Levitt QC’s opinion, Fieldfisher – a law firm based in the City, may have acted with a conflict of interest.
A fuller discussion of this point is outlined in The Law Society Gazette. In the interest of fairness to the law firm, its side of things has not been fully reported on. However, it would seem that this matter will rumble on for some time, at least until a number of senior hires are in place at the centuries-old RICS institution. Read the RICS Independent Review in Full
Trussle promise a mortgage decision in only five days
Trussle is all about speed and transparency and its service is not based upon the size of the lending that borrowers need. It says: “Our team of expert mortgage advisers will compare 12,000 mortgage deals and find the right mortgage deal for you. You can chat with, call, or email your adviser at any time. Your adviser won’t be paid a commission based on the size of your loan or choice of lender. Their only motivation is to help you get a mortgage quickly and easily.
“And we do more than get you a mortgage. We check that you can still pay it if the unexpected happens, so you’re protected against losing your home.”
Some lenders move quicker than others, and some of the big names like Barclays, BM Solutions, Clydesdale Bank, Fleet Mortgages and HSBC are very much in the frame with a promise that others will be added when it can facilitate the approval rate that allows five-day decisions.
Ian Larkin, CEO of Trussle, said: “Trussle was created to make mortgage applications easier and now we want to give our customers the certainty they desperately need at a very early stage in the process … using technology and automation to cut out needless hassle, we can give our customers decisions in days not weeks, without compromising on service.”
CMA pressure makes Countryside re-think leasehold strategy
There has been quite the scuffle going on between the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) and Countryside Properties, a super scale developer of new homes.
The row had been about properties being sold with leasehold contracts that allowed ground rents to be increased to elevated levels the longer the properties were owned. This ratchet effect meant that properties would be blighted for re-sale and owners would face increasing payments as the costs escalated.
Countryside has promised to stop selling homes with the doubling clauses appended to them, and it has also promised that those who had a leasehold agreement would only have to pay the amount set out in the first schedule with no further rises.
This is a huge win for the present and future homebuyers, leading other developers to also change their terms, Persimmon and Barratt to name just two.
Housing Secretary Jenrick bites the dust
It has been announced that Robert Jenrick has been sacked as housing secretary in Boris Johnson’s latest cabinet reshuffle.
Many seem genuinely surprised that fresh-faced Robert Jenrick has lost his position as Secretary of State for Housing at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, a role that he held for just over two years.
Jenrick did well to stay in post for so long given his proximity to certain movers and shakers, his backing of a certain development in London, the ongoing cladding scandal, plus of course his planning reforms, to name just a handful of controversies.
Sure, it is never easy being a politician. Soundbites that promise 300,000 new homes are hard to keep, especially during a global pandemic. You get the impression that anyone in this post is doomed to fail.
That pattern is all too evident, and every time a new housing secretary loses their job, the joined-up dots approach to a cohesive housing structure is lost.
Effectively they’re just replaced by the next person with bright ideas and a cohort of advisers and Whitehall officials with their own agendas. More soundbites, more promises.
Michael Gove, who has recently been in the spotlight for resurfaced audio containing racist and homophobic language, will step into the role and try and move the needle on the new homes target.
Will Gove succeed? Highly unlikely. Will Gove still be housing secretary by 2025? It’s a 50/50 call, and that is the problem. Zero continuity.
Andrew Stanton is the founder 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 of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.