Urban.co.uk's 2015 Round Up

Sometimes, the property world can feel a bit like a pantomime.

Every day brings new challenges, legislation to understand, prices rising and falling (although less of the falling) and its fair share of goodies, baddies, shocks and thrills - but hopefully, a happy ending for everyone!

2015 has been an Oscar-winning year for the industry, with more twists and turns than the most dramatic performance, and it's featured a full panto roll call of characters...

The villain

If you’re a landlord, there’s likely to only be one major villain this year, Chancellor George Osborne. The government hit the buy-to-let market with a series of shocks this year, all set to overhaul the private rental market.
They include plans to increase stamp duty by 3% for buy-to-lets and second homes from April, as well stripping landlords of their tax breaks on mortgage interest from rental properties. This process will be started in April and implemented up until 2020, at which stage landlords will only be able to offset interest at the basic tax rate of 20%.

People who leave the country for more than a month will lose housing benefit, something to be aware of when you are advertising for tenants - if your tenant is reliant on housing benefits, make sure they are planning to remain in the UK!
Watch out landlords, he’s beeeeeehind you!

The (legal) hero

A housing hero came in October, in the form of the new Section 21. A Section 21 notice is an eviction notice a landlord will give to their tenant to re-gain possession of their property, without giving any reason for ending the tenancy.

The new legislation demands an efficient paper trail from both landlord and tenant, and will be enforced with heavy fines if not adhered to correctly.
Welsh Landlords also have new legislation in late-2015 designed to ensure all landlords are fully licensed. The Rent Smart Wales scheme launched on November 23, and applies to all private landlords who own property in Wales.

The good fairy

There was plenty of good news this year that had an impact on the property world.

In order to encourage more people to take the plunge and take a step onto the property ladder, the Bank of England pledged to keep interest rates at 0.5% into 2016, and promised that any increases would be made incrementally.
Research released in September by the Office of National Statistics announced that the number of people unemployed in the UK is at the lowest rate in seven years, and that over 70% of young people aged between 16-24 were in employment between July 2015 and September 2015. This is great news for the economy, but it potentially has put more pressure on the housing market to provide properties suitable for both renters and first-time buyers.

He may be the villain if you’re a landlord, but George Osborne has been sprinkling the fairy dust when it comes to first time buyers this year, announcing plans to build 400,000 affordable new homes across the country. Half of the properties will be aimed at FTB, sold to first time buyers under the age of 40 and available at a 20 per cent discount. The government will also provide £400m to help local housing associations build 8,000 new specialist homes for older people and those with disabilities.

The Chancellor also extended the Right to Buy scheme for housing association tenants in November, with housing associations across the UK rolling out the scheme which allows residents to apply to buy the property they currently rent.

2015 was certainly an dramatic year, who knows what 2016 holds!

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