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5 Policies That Would Change UK Property

Autumn Budget 2018, the first Budget to take place on a Monday since 1962, and the last before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union was one of the most eagerly anticipated in recent years.

Despite announcing the abolishment of stamp duty on shared homes and a boost for the Housing Infrastructure Fund, there was very little new policy to combat the housing crisis, and even less for property investors to be excited about.

Here, though, you’ll find five policies that would change the landscape of the UK property market and provide new opportunities for investors.

Longer Tenancies

Surprisingly missing from the Budget, considering the amount of conversation it has generated, was a widely expected announcement concerning longer-term tenancies.

The idea is popular among tenants, and according to research by Shelter, supported by a third of landlords in the private rental sector.

Currently standard tenancy contracts are between 6 and 12 months, although on average a privately rented property realistically has the same occupant for much longer, 3-4 years.

Longer tenancies of 3-5 years would be beneficial to both tenants and landlords. Tenants would be granted the security of a longer contract and be able to make the property their home. Whilst, landlords would greatly benefit from trusted tenants they know are able to pay rent and respect their property.

To woo sceptical landlords to the idea, the government would need to offer incentives to buy-to-let investors. Tax breaks would surely be welcomed, but the inclusion of a fixed penalty fee for the tenant, if they were to end the tenancy early, could also prove encouraging.

Support for Buy-to-Let Landlords

With a 3% stamp duty surcharge on second homes and tax relief on mortgage payments being gradually withdrawn, the current government has made life difficult for buy-to-let investors.

Landlords have warned that if there is no incentive to rent out properties, supply will slow and rents skyrocket. Therefore, the Residential Landlords Association has put forward several proposals, including:

  1. Faster evictions when property is damaged or for continued failure to pay rent.
  2. Measures to prevent mortgage lenders stopping landlords from offering longer-term tenancies.
  3. Exemptions from stamp duty where landlords add to the supply of new homes.

Build-to-Rent Developments

As well as addressing concerns around the changes to the buy-to-let market, the government should look to encourage build-to-rent developments.

Let out by a sole agent, build-to-rent developments offer tenants longer tenancies and access to amenities, such as: concierges, launderettes, cinema rooms, and roof gardens.

Generally consisting of one- and two-bedroom flats, build-to-rent developments provide a solution to the housing crisis. Although the conceit has the potential to be pushed further, by offering incentives to developers with a focus on purpose-built co-living accommodation.

Research by the Federation of Master Builders shows that co-living as a way towards resolving the UK’s under supply of housing is increasingly popular. Shared accommodation also has other benefits, it could be viewed as a way of battling the societal epidemic of loneliness. As we become more environmentally conscious, it’s important to note that 5 people living together, for example, have a carbon footprint 59% lower than someone living alone.

Building More Microapartments

Likewise, well-designed compact homes should not be ignored.

Microapartment blocks are predominantly built in metropolitan city centres to accommodate young professionals, and those priced out of the housing market.

Cheaper to build than houses or blocks of full-sized apartments, microapartments contain a living area, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom; with residents also having access to communal lounges and balconies.

Their importance in providing much-needed accommodation in areas with high rents cannot be overlooked, and for investors they are a relatively inexpensive asset.

Building on the Greenbelt

Easily the most controversial topic in property is the UK’s greenbelt. Building on it alone won’t solve the housing crisis but would go a way towards it.

The UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) shows that only 6.8% of the UK is classified as urban, but this isn’t the same as land built on. Urban areas are home to greenspaces, domestic gardens, rivers, reservoirs, canals, and lakes. Taking this into consideration, the NEA concludes that around just 2% of the UK is built on, with 98% natural.

With such a large amount of land untouched, strategic building should be considered by all political parties over greenbelt protectionism.

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