News

 In this article, Rightmove has taken a closer look at properties with green credentials for sale, from new-builds showcasing the latest eco-friendly tech, to older homes that have boosted their EPC score with eco-friendly improvements.

The new-build development in Walthamstow Village, east London, is of interest. The development company, GS8, describe the project as 'planet-positive construction' as the ten new homes are not just carbon neutral but carbon negative, and zero-waste was produced during construction. The brochure on their website states:

"We are going above and beyond in our carbon commitments, surpassing carbon neutrality from both an embodied and an operational carbon perspective.

 In terms of embodied carbon, we have built homes that store more carbon through the natural materials used than the carbon taken to construct the buildings from the remaining man-made materials.


From an operational carbon perspective, the homes will generate all energy through on-site renewables, draw no power from the grid and burn no fossil fuels. This means the buildings are net zero without requiring any offsetting at all."  
Read more here. 

Image: Rightmove

An explosion on Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath, London, occurred at 07:10 this morning and has very sadly killed a child, and left three other people in hospital with life-threatening injuries. This article from the BBC describes how residents said they had reported a strong gas smell two weeks ago and had felt dizzy in recent days. Although, the authorities are yet to confirm if the explosion was caused by gas or not. Read more here.

Historic England recently hosted the Future of Heating in Historic Buildings conference in partnership with the Fit for the Future Network and The Church of England.

Organisations and individuals charged with managing historic buildings face a significant challenge and the conference provided an opportunity to learn about solutions to these challenges, now, and in the future.

The talks were recorded and are now available to watch on YouTube here.

The ‘Money and Credit - June 2022’ report published by the Bank of England, shows net mortgage borrowing was down by almost £3bn from May to June of this year.  Despite the reduction, it is still above the 12-month pre-pandemic average (up to Feb 2020). Furthermore, approvals for house purchases decreased for the same period and reached 63,700 in June which is below pre-pandemic levels. The number of mortgages (with a different lender) dropped by over 3,000 and is also below the pre-pandemic average. It is likely that the rising cost of living has put some people off, although with the start of the holiday season, perhaps a slight reduction in activity could be expected. 

Read the report here.

Yesterday, many areas saw record-breaking temperatures as the UK faced a severe heatwave. There were many reports of wildfires breaking out by the afternoon, and this article describes how London Fire Brigade had its busiest day since World War II.
This article describes how several fires have 'gutted' houses in South Yorkshire. The first photos show a row of BISF houses and the photo below shows how much damage has been caused.
Here are some other stories of fires affecting homes during yesterday's heatwave:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-62234289

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-62230591

https://news.sky.com/story/brutal-40c-day-leaves-uk-reeling-after-surge-of-fires-rips-through-homes-12655350

With temperatures hitting new records, attention in the media has shifted to climate change and overheating in homes. This article from the BBC refers to a study undertaken by Loughborough University in partnership with BRE, published in July 2021. The study revealed that 4.6million English bedrooms (19% of the national housing stock) and 3.6million living rooms (15%) overheated. In the summer of 2018, there were four heatwaves, resulting in 1067 excess deaths, with far more deaths being recorded in London than elsewhere in England. Those most vulnerable are the elderly and very young, those with chronic physical and/or mental health conditions, and the immobile and bedridden.

The other key findings from the study were:

  • Overheating was more prevalent in bedrooms at night than in living rooms during the day.
  • The prevalence of living room overheating was significantly greater in flats (30%) than other dwelling types.
  • Improved fabric energy efficiency did not significantly increase the risk of overheating.
  • The prevalence of monitored overheating was greater in households living in social housing, with low incomes or with members aged over state pension age.

Only in June 2022 did the Building Regulation Approved Document O for overheating come into force. Deputy chair of the Climate Change Committee Baroness Brown says it will take years for the rules on overheating in new homes to make an impact, and that the government must urgently act to reduce the risk in millions of existing homes.

Read more here.

A report by Landmark Information Group explains how in Q2 of 2022, completions slowed as transaction times continue to lag, in part due to down-valuations, expired mortgage offers and consumer hesitancy.

This article from Property Industry Eye explains the number of transactions progressing to completion is down 11% on Q2 2019 levels and 7% on average compared to Q1 2022 as buyer confidence is increasingly hit by cost-of-living pressures and increasing interest rates.

The data also shows that the ratio of valuations per offer rose by 15% in the first five months of 2022, compared with the same period in 2019, indicating that false starts are now on the rise. Read more here.

Earlier this week, an explosion and fire occurred at a three-storey block of flats in Bedford. Sadly, Bedfordshire police have confirmed one person has died, and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue have warned there is a possibility that more fatalities will be discovered as the detailed searches continue (here). The block of flats has sustained significant damage, as can be seen in the photographs. An investigation is ongoing, however, Bedfordshire Police have confirmed in this news post that there is no mains gas supply servicing the properties. Read more here.

Source: Sky News

On 28 June, the Building Safety Act 2022 came into force. The RICS recently shared with its members a letter from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, sent to Andrew Bulmer (Chief Executive Officer of The Property Institute), and Melanie Leech (Chief Executive of British Property Foundation), highlighting these paragraphs of importance, with reference to managing agents and the new leaseholder protection provisions :

“The law as it previously stood allowed your members to charge all leaseholders for the full cost of all necessary remediation work. That has led to a situation where managing agents and freeholders are sending people invoices for hundreds of thousands of pounds that would bankrupt families and leave leaseholders facing financial ruin. Those days are now over, and the Act means qualifying leaseholders can thankfully dispose of these invoices. 

I am concerned by some reports that agents are attempting to continue to send invoices to leaseholders that would violate the Building Safety Act protections, which will apply retrospectively. It is important to be clear – from tomorrow, anyone who chooses to breach the statutory protections will be committing a criminal offence. Individuals involved in such criminal activity could face up to 10 years in prison, in addition to the consequences for their companies. Criminal exploitation of leaseholders will be treated as a matter of the utmost seriousness.”

RICS reminded members: 

RICS has a Building Safety Act information centre which provides links to helpful documents and the answers to frequently asked questions. Please take the time to ensure you are familiar with, and complying with, the requirements of the Act. In addition, you can access the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code here - Service Charge Residential Management Code, 3rd Edition (rics.org).

We recommend that if you have any concerns about this or any other aspects of the Act that you seek independent legal advice. 

Rockwool has published a useful guide to the changes in Approved Document L 2021. The guide includes:

  • A breakdown of the what’s been updated and why
  • Changes-at-glance for Volume 1: dwellings and Volume 2: buildings other than dwellings
  • U-value tables with a side-by-side comparison versus the 2013 edition
  • Substrate construction options using ROCKWOOL solutions

To download the guide, you will need to enter your details and email address, and you will be sent an email with the download link - click here to download.

'A fairer private rented sector' policy paper was published yesterday (16 June 2022). There are an estimated 4.4 million houses in the Private Rented Sector (PRS), housing over 11 million people; the paper lists a 12-point plan of action of 'robust and comprehensive changes' to create a PRS that meets the needs of the diverse tenants and landlords who live and work within it:

  1. We will deliver on our levelling up housing mission to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030 and require privately rented homes to meet the Decent Homes Standard for the first time. This will give renters safer, better value homes and remove the blight of poor-quality homes in local communities.
  2. We will accelerate quality improvements in the areas that need it most. We will run pilot schemes with a selection of local councils to explore different ways of enforcing standards and work with landlords to speed up adoption of the Decent Homes Standard.
  3. We will deliver our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and deliver a simpler, more secure tenancy structure. A tenancy will only end if the tenant ends it or if the landlord has a valid ground for possession, empowering tenants to challenge poor practice and reducing costs associated with unexpected moves.
  4. We will reform grounds for possession to make sure that landlords have effective means to gain possession of their properties when necessary. We will expedite landlords’ ability to evict those who disrupt neighbourhoods through antisocial behaviour and introduce new grounds for persistent arrears and sale of the property.
  5. We will only allow increases to rent once per year, end the use of rent review clauses, and improve tenants’ ability to challenge excessive rent increases through the First Tier Tribunal to support people to manage their costs and to remain in their homes.
  6. We will strengthen tenants’ ability to hold their landlord to account and introduce a new single Ombudsman that all private landlords must join. This will provide fair, impartial, and binding resolution to many issues and be quicker, cheaper, and less adversarial than the court system. Alongside this, we will consider how we can bolster and expand existing rent repayment orders and enable tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes.
  7. We will work with the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) to target the areas where there are unacceptable delays in court proceedings. We will also strengthen mediation and alternative dispute resolution to enable landlords and tenants to work together to reduce the risk of issues escalating.
  8. We will introduce a new Property Portal to make sure that tenants, landlords and local councils have the information they need. The portal will provide a single ‘front door’ for landlords to understand their responsibilities, tenants will be able to access information about their landlord’s compliance, and local councils will have access to better data to crack down on criminal landlords. Subject to consultation with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), we also intend to incorporate some of the functionality of the Database of Rogue Landlords, mandating the entry of all eligible landlord offences and making them publicly visible.
  9. We will strengthen local councils’ enforcement powers and ability to crack down on criminal landlords by seeking to increase investigative powers and strengthening the fine regime for serious offences. We are also exploring a requirement for local councils to report on their housing enforcement activity and want to recognise those local councils that are doing a good job.
  10. We will legislate to make it illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits and explore if similar action is needed for other vulnerable groups, such as prison leavers. We will improve support to landlords who let to people on benefits, which will reduce barriers for those on the lowest incomes.
  11. We will give tenants the right to request a pet in their property, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. We will also amend the Tenant Fees Act 2019 so that landlords can request that their tenants buy pet insurance.
  12. We will work with industry experts to monitor the development of innovative market-led solutions to passport deposits. This will help tenants who struggle to raise a second deposit to move around the PRS more easily and support tenants to save for ownership.


The government has published a guide to best practice on solid floor insulation. The guide aims to provide a clear reference for designers, surveyors and installers considering the suitability of solid floors to receive internal thermal upgrades to:

• assess the technical viability of insulations and systems for scenarios they might encounter,
• select materials based on hygrothermal understanding and installation best practice,
and
• steer designers, surveyors and installers towards safe methods of achieving the best possible solutions.

Read the guide here.

Neighbours in Kensal Green, London are in the midst of a legal battle over the encroachment of Japanese knotweed onto their land. Christopher Clarke and Louise Kay, the claimants, were aware of a knotweed issue when they moved into their new home and bought in professionals to eradicate the problem in 2015. Two years later they were made aware that Japanese knotweed growth on the neighbour’s land posed an imminent threat of damage to their home. The claimants are seeking an injunction to compel their neighbours, Mr and Mrs Abassi, to treat the knotweed, along with £250,000 in damages for nuisance. Mr Clarke also claims that the problem has resulted in his home being devalued by 15 per cent. Read more here.


In case you missed the latest edition of Modus magazine from the RICS, Radweb software provider has introduced a new product, RICS Home Surveys software, within the Property Inspect platform. Managing director Steve Rad says: “Our programme ticks a lot of boxes and it helps surveyors to streamline and automate the process by cutting down on the amount of admin and reporting. Inventory providers often say that Inventory Base (the sister software) is the only horse in that race and we want to do the same for property surveyors.” Read more here. 

Prompted by the recent Jubilee celebrations, Today’s Conveyancer has taken a look at the property market during the time the Queen has been on the throne. It starts in 1952 when the average house price was below £2,000 and the average salary was around £10 per week. Without today’s technology, houses were marketed by small, local estate agencies. One former Branch Manager commented that during the 1960s, deposits were lower by comparison, there was less legislation, less red tape, and they relied on a phone and a paper file of buyers. The UK property market saw ups and downs, with a 25% rise in property prices in the late 1980s, to a 20% drop due to the recession in the 1990s. It has also survived the financial crisis in the 2000s and the Covid-19 pandemic. It makes for an interesting read (and an entertaining one for those that remember using the term ‘groovy’). Read more here.

We have just published Technical Bulletin 40. You can download the PDF if you are logged into Sava EDGE here: https://resources.sava.co.uk/downloads/files/technical-bulletin-40-june-2022

This issue includes the below articles, which you can click on to read directly:

- The great damp illusion
- Using the Rightmove SCT and good valuation practice
- Japanese knotweed and residential property
- Ground screws
- Digital data collection
- The Sava Protocol (updated)

The ownership and maintenance of garden walls and fences can be the cause of many a ‘falling-out’ between neighbours, according to this article in HomeOwners Alliance. Clearly, there is no standard rule for determining ownership of all boundary structures, and even whether the owner has any responsibility for maintaining it. There is some useful guidance on how you might be able to find out more information from the title deeds if certain information is present, unfortunately,  title deeds do not always provide such clear details. It seems these disputes are likely to continue to cause problems long into the future. Read more here.

Michael Gove , secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced plans to get more first-time buyers on the housing ladder by introducing insurance against mortgage default. In an attempt to “repair the broken property ladder and fix our dysfunctional housing market”, Michael Gove said: “More than half of those in the private rented sector could currently afford the repayment costs on a mortgage, but just 3% have the savings necessary to put together a deposit and meet the lender’s requirements for a typical first-time buyer’s property.” If introduced, this insurance policy is aimed at giving access to homeownership to those who would normally have to go into the private rented sector because they do not have sufficient funds for a deposit currently required in today’s mortgage market. Read more here.

As part of their ongoing work on defining ‘Material information in property listings’, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team has issued their opinion on the use of ‘Price on Application’ (POA) in property listings. Deeming it to be unlawful, their publication states that regarding the use of POA “… is likely to be misleading as it is withholding (or in some cases masking) the asking price from consumers…”. Read the letter here.

We’ve seen plenty of reports highlighting how fast the property market is moving, such as sales taking place within around a month, meaning that sellers will likely want a quick sale to ensure they don’t lose the chance of buying their dream home. This Property Road article explains how in 2022, there has been a marked rise in offers accepted from chain-free buyers, which has no doubt impacted this. As a comparison, in 2010, 65% of buyers were chain-free, however, so far this year, they represent 73% of all buyers. Whilst the number of first-time buyers continues to buoy the market, for the last year or so, many homeowners have chosen to sell and move into temporary rented accommodation to put themselves in a much stronger position to acquire the property they want. Read here.

This weekend saw thousands of people gather to protest against water companies dumping sewage in rivers. The event was organised by the charity Surfers Against Sewage and people dressed up in some interesting costumes (see photograph below). This article describes how water companies discharged raw sewage into British rivers 372,533 times last year, for a total of more than 2.6m hours, according to data from the Environment Agency. However, untreated sewage should only be discharged into rivers in exceptional circumstances, for example, during heavy rainfall. A professor in environmental toxicology took a sample from a river in Manningtree, Essex, and found the E. coli count to be twice that of the threshold for good bathing water. Read the article here.
You may also find our article on septic tanks and the rules for discharging to surface water here.

Another useful resource  is: https://theriverstrust.org/key-issues/state-of-our-rivers 

Image from the BBC, credit: Katie Pavid

Propertymark is urging agents to ensure they are aware of the forthcoming changes to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations, as they could come into effect as soon as Autumn 2022.

Since 1 October 2015, landlords have needed to ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of their property where there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. 

They also must put a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where solid fuel is burnt, such as wood, coal or biomass and including open fires. It does not include gas, oil or LPG. Landlords or agents must ensure that the alarms work at the start of each new tenancy. 

Following a consultation in November 2021,  there would be the following key changes to the rules: 

  • carbon monoxide alarms will be mandatory in rooms with a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers) in both private and social rented homes
  • carbon monoxide alarms will also be mandatory upon installation of any heating appliance (excluding gas cookers) in all tenures through building regulations
  • private and social landlords will be expected to repair or replace alarms once informed that they are faulty
  • smoke alarms will be mandatory in all social rented homes

Read more here.

Homebuyers are facing the realities of offering much higher than the asking price for properties as people bid to secure a house and lenders then "downvalue" the agreed price. This article from the Telegraph describes how house price growth has hit an 18-year high.

Martin Stewart at mortgage broker London Money, said: “I think we will start seeing more downvaluations because there is a thing called gravity. We have crossed the Rubicon between sellers’ expectations and the realistic valuations of the lender.”
Read more here.

This article from Unlock Net Zero explains that research by Shakespeare Martineau has found more than three-quarters (77%) of people in the housing market are likely to choose a green home for their next purchase. Shakespeare Martineau questioned more than 500 buyers (including first-time buyers) about their reasons for wanting a green home; the responses included "it's better for the environment" (39%), it will "save me money in the long run" (27%) and "I want to reduce my energy bills" (35%). What is also interesting is the responses about education, where 1 in 3 respondents who wanted a green home said they wanted to understand more about how it would benefit them in the future. Of those who were undecided on whether to opt for a green home or not, 72% said they didn’t know enough about it, suggesting there is an education gap on the benefits of energy-efficient homes. You can enter your details to be emailed a copy of the full report here.

You may recall the government published the Heat and Buildings Strategy in October 2021.

The strategy laid out important high-level decisions on the UK’s approach to reducing emissions from heating buildings. The CCC (Committee on Climate Change) have recently published their independent assessment on the strategy, and they say the government plans are “not yet comprehensive or complete and significant delivery risks remain. Consultations need to move forward, followed rapidly by final decisions on policy design and effective implementation if the Strategy’s ambitious goals are to be met.” The CCC give five priorities for the UK Government. You can download the publication here.

The government has announced updates to the following Approved Documents which will take effect on the 15 June 2022:

Approved Document F: Ventilation
Approved Document L: Conservation of fuel and power
Approved Document O: Overheating
Approved Document S: Infrastructure for the charging of electric vehicles

Details of the changes can be found here. You can see the latest documents here.

Research commissioned by the National Residential Landlords Association suggests the government could see a £10 billion boost if it scrapped the stamp duty levy on the purchase of homes to rent out. Removing the three per cent levy would see almost 900,000 new private rented homes made available across the UK over the next ten years. This article explains Capital Economics suggest that without changes in tax or other policies, the private rented sector stock will decrease by over half a million properties over the next ten years. Meanwhile, between now and 2030, the 15-24 cohort in the population is forecast to grow by 866,000 (11 per cent), likely driving up further demand in rental properties. Read more about the research here.

Setting out its proposals to mandate biodiversity net gain (BNG) for developments within the planning process in England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has issued the Consultation on Biodiversity Net Gain Regulations and Implementation. DEFRA describes BNG as “an approach to development which means that habitats for wildlife must be left in a measurably better state than they were in before the development.” It goes on further to say that “Mandating biodiversity net gain through the Environment Act will establish a consistent set of requirements and necessary exemptions which give developers clarity as to how they can meet their net gain obligations.”  BNG is intended to work alongside existing legislation for protected species and sites to:

• secure positive outcomes for biodiversity,

• improve the process for developers, and

• create better places for local communities

The consultation closes on 4 April 2022 and you can find it here.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has written to the government outlining proposals to help fund remediation of the cladding issues. In the letter to housing secretary Michael Gove, the HBF chair Stewart Baseley offers to fund remediation on buildings that date back to 2000 and are over 11m in height. It is thought that as the deal applies only to buildings developed by the housebuilders that the funds are likely to fall short of the £4bn estimated by the government. Stewart Basely added that “Only with ongoing support from government and a clear commitment to work with the industry in its broadest sense, including surveyors, building owners, lenders, insurers and product manufactures over the coming weeks can we turn our proposal into a fully practical solution for leaseholders.” A housing ministry spokesman commented that “Developers have not yet gone far enough….We have been clear that if they do not, we will impose a solution.”
Read more here.

Following requests from estate and letting agents, a property's council tax band or rate and the property price and tenure information (for sales) must be included on all property listings by the end of May 2022, and these data fields will start to appear on portals over the coming weeks. If they are left empty by an agent, this will be flagged on the listing so consumers can see what information is missing and will link to advice on why the information is important and how it may be obtained.

These changes represent the first phase of a project by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, in partnership with industry leaders and the UK’s major property portals, to define what constitutes material information for property listings.
Read more here and a summary of the industry response here.

Once again, house prices have broken records as February saw the biggest monthly jump in cash terms in more than 20 years. According to Rightmove, there was a 2.3% monthly rise, which equates to +£7,785, with the annual rate of asking price growth at 9.5% - the highest recorded since September 2014. Since the pandemic began two years ago, prices have risen by nearly £40,000 compared to just over £9,000 in the two years before. Read more from Property Reporter here.

Two men have been taken to hospital after a gas explosion at a house on Whickham Street, Roker, in Sunderland. Fortunately, the injuries sustained are not thought to be life-threatening. An investigation is underway into the exact cause of the explosion. Images in this article from the BBC show the roof tiles have been completely blown off and the damage appears to be worse on the first-floor. 


The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has slammed government policy on decarbonisation for a “lack of specific, strategic action”, stating that it fails to set out how targets will be achieved. Within the conclusions and recommendations of the report, it highlighted: “Evidence was clear that for low carbon heating installations to work effectively and to heat homes adequately, properties need to be upgraded to the correct levels of energy efficiency… If people are encouraged to switch to low carbon heating sources without the knowledge or incentive for energy efficiency upgrades, then there are risks of scheme failure and loss of public trust if the new low carbon heating sources are not heating homes to the desired temperature and insulation.” The committee calls on Ministers to publish a heat technology road map by September 2022 and recommends they adopt a clear and specific end date for phasing out gas boilers. Read the full report here.

Experts are urging people to think twice before planting bamboo in their gardens and this article in the Express explains why. When bamboo grew across property boundaries, the neighbour noticed it started growing through their floor, further investigation of the issue led to several rooms in their home having to be excavated to remove the rhizome. As it had grown up through the cavity wall, had it not been noticed, it could have forced the walls apart. Reported as being one of the fastest growing plants in the world, it is said it can grow up to approx. 1 metre per day. If you must have it, the advice is to grow it in pots to avoid this type of spread. Costs have been estimated at over £100,000 and the homeowner has had to vacate the property whilst works are underway. Read the article here.

The RICS has published a new guidance note (effective from March 2022) to replace the RICS information paper Japanese Knotweed and residential property, 2012.

The purpose of this updated document is to address both the findings and provide guidance based on market informed industry best practice, the most recent research about a more holistic assessment of Japanese knotweed, to ensure RICS members provide the best advice to users of valuation and condition reports.

This document contains a decision tree based on risk level to help valuers determine the appropriate management approach needed for Japanese Knotweed. The new process still delivers a straightforward and objective categorisation of Japanese Knotweed infestations because this provides the clarity that is essential for lenders and which will continue to ensure confidence and trust among the wider stakeholders.

Read more here

The Property Care Association has also published a guidance note to support the new RICS guidance and to help property valuers and surveyors understand:

  • How to recognise the presence of Japanese Knotweed
  • the challenges of detecting & identifying Japanese knotweed;
  • the benefits of long-term guarantees underwritten by appropriate insurance.

You can find it here.

A quarter of landlords have “little to no” knowledge of the minimum energy efficiency changes proposed for 2028 under the government’s Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener policy. According to this article in Mortgage Strategy, this means they could risk their property let being prohibited if they don’t meet the requirements. The survey, led by Shawbrook Bank, found that over a third of landlords reported that their rental properties were built before 1940, meaning it’s highly likely that most of these landlords may need to invest over £6000 -  the average amount estimated needed to get an existing EPC D rating up to a C rating. Half of the landlords who will need to complete upgrades have considered selling. Shawbrook Bank sales director Emma Cox said: “…As well as these risks to landlords, renters may also be put in an even worse position as they compete for a smaller number of properties that are rated C or above after the 2025 deadline.” This Rent4Sure article highlights those 3.2 million properties in the private rented sector that will require improvements and highlights the difficulty that may be faced by some older Victorian and other E rated properties being able to achieve the C rating without significant levels of investment.

The ‘House Price Watch Dec 2021’ published by HomeOwners Alliance described 2021 as “…an extraordinary year for the housing market”, and when you look at how house price trends have been reversed in various parts of the UK, it explains why. It comes as no surprise to say that house prices in the UK have risen by 10 per cent on the previous year, making the average house price £270,708. A highly active market helped push up prices while demand was outstripping supply. RICS figures indicated buyer enquiries increased by 13 per cent, and seller enquiries decreased by 18 per cent. People choosing to move out of cities to benefit from more green space saw London prices increase by the lowest amount of 5.10 per cent over the year, but much stronger areas were the South West, East of England and Wales, where all regions saw a rise in prices of over 12 per cent. However, London still maintains the highest average house price of around £500,000. Newcastle and Glasgow have the lowest average house price of just under £140,000. Experts at the Halifax said: “The housing market defied expectations in 2021. We saw the average house price reach new record highs on eight occasions….” Which? also gives an interesting take on the housing market with some useful graphs showing trends in the market and some predictions for 2022-2023.

The government has published its latest ‘Housing supply: Indicators of new supply, England: July to September 2021’ report. The figures are sourced from building control data which is estimated to be able to provide information on about 80% of the country’s house building. Around 42,400 new-build dwellings were started during this quarter, which is a 16 per cent increase from the previous year. Completions were around 43,290 which represents a 1 per cent drop compared with the same quarter last year. Looking at comparisons for the year ending Sept 2021, there was a 43 per cent increase in building starts, and completions were up by 26 per cent. These figures are unlikely to come as a surprise when the sector saw construction significantly impacted by the issues associated with the pandemic. If you’d like to see trends for building starts and completions in private enterprise, housing associations and local authorities ranging from 1978 – 2021 you can download a copy of the live tables here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-house-building 

A consultation seeking views on a number of reforms to the leasehold and commonhold system (in England and Wales) following recommendations in the Law Commission’s reports published in July 2020 has been published. 

Specifically, it seeks views on:

  • The non-residential limit for collective enfranchisement;
  • The non-residential limit for right to manage claims;
  • A non-residential limit for individual freehold acquisitions;
  • The introduction of mandatory leasebacks as part of collective freehold acquisitions;
  • Commonhold voting rights in shared ownership properties; and
  • The provision of information during the sale of a commonhold property.

The consultation ends on 22 February 2022; you can find it here.

Housing Minister Michael Gove has written to developers and given a deadline of early March to agree on a fully funded plan of action, including remediating unsafe cladding on 11-18 metre buildings, currently estimated to be £4 billion. He warns he will take all steps necessary to make this happen, including restricting access to government funding and future procurements, the use of planning powers and the pursuit of companies through the courts. He adds that if industry fails to take responsibility, the government will if necessary impose a solution in law.

Read the letter to industry here and the press release here.

The government guidance that sets out when planning permission is required has been amended following the High Court's decision in Ricki Sage v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government & London Borough of Bromley [2021]. Paragraph 014 has been removed which previously said:

"Do I need planning permission to home work or run a business from home?

Planning permission will not normally be required to home work or run a business from home, provided that a dwelling house remains a private residence first and business second (or in planning terms, provided that a business does not result in a material change of use of a property so that it is no longer a single dwelling house). A local planning authority is responsible for deciding whether planning permission is required and will determine this on the basis of individual facts. Issues which they may consider include whether home working or a business leads to notable increases in traffic, disturbance to neighbours, abnormal noise or smells or the need for any major structural changes or major renovations."

You can read what the judge, Sir Duncan Ouseley, said about the guidance in the judgment here.

For an overview, you can also read the story about the case here.

Despite a strong market leading to an increase in the average house price, it hasn’t deterred first-time buyers from getting onto the housing ladder during 2021, which saw the highest number of transactions from this sector of the market in almost 20 years. Yorkshire Building Society estimated the number to be around 408,300. According to this report in the Guardian, it’s thought first-time buyers have been able to boost their savings due to lower spending levels resulting from the lockdowns and coupled with low borrowing rates and government guarantees, it’s been more likely they were able to save for a deposit and find suitable mortgage products. First-time buyers made up half of all house purchases during the last two years, compared with less than 40% during 2006-2011. 

Read more here.

With almost 975,000 transactions, 2021 saw the highest volume of residential house sales in the last 10 years. This level of enthusiasm was mirrored in the second-home market with around 24,000 purchases thought to have taken place. Whilst it seems the SDLT holiday may have helped achieve these levels of activity, HMRC coffers were still boosted by over £11 billion from SDLT in the first 11 months of the year. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, said: “…Over the past 18 months we’ve seen lifestyle drivers and low interest rates support incredibly strong levels of house price growth and a real surge in activity. The Treasury has particularly benefited from high transaction volumes at the top end of the market…”.

Read more here.

Although it was not expected until the new year, the Bank of England has increased the rate of interest for the first time in three years. This decision seems to be in response to the inflation rate of 5.1%, the highest it’s been in a decade, balanced against the concerns Omicron is having on the economy. However, increasing the rate from 0.1% to 0.25% isn’t exactly a hike, and it’s estimated to affect mortgage payments by an estimated £10-15 per month, with fixed-rate customers being largely unaffected in the immediate term. Overall, finance specialists seem to remain positive that the mortgage market will continue to stay strong. Kimberley Gates, head of corporate partnerships at Sirius Property Finance said: “ … it’s important to remember that even with today’s increase, rates remain incredibly low and so there’s certainly no reason to run for the hills...” 

See more reactions to the news here.

The latest Technical Bulletin for residential surveyors is now available here. To download and view the full bulletin, you will need to be logged in to Sava EDGE. If you are not already logged in, please click here to log in. If you do not yet have an account, please click here to register. This issue of the bulletin includes articles on the following: 

Energy Performance Certificates and Value
This year, one of the major high street lenders introduced new valuer guidance asking valuers to consider the EPC in their valuation process. This article considers the Energy Performance Certificate, how they might impact values in general, and to question the role of the residential surveyor and valuer to help the UK hit its net-zero targets.
Read the article here

Office to Residential Conversions
In this article, Liam Shutt from e.surv Chartered Surveyors looks at the recent changes to Permitted Development Rights and discusses the implications for residential valuers.
Read the article here.
 
Protected Animal Species
This article provides an overview of the protected animal species that residential surveyors may come across or see signs of during their inspection, including bats, breeding birds, barn owls, badgers, and great crested newts. It provides clarification on the law around disturbing protected species.
Read the article here.
 
Client Management and Technology
In this article, Matt Nally talks through the processes of a job instruction from start to finish and highlights how technology can help to streamline them.
Read the article here.

Condensation - A Case Study
Alan McKeown, Building Surveyor at Plumb Stone Surveyors, shares an interesting case study of a non-invasive damp survey he carried out.
Read the article here.

From time-to-time houses are marketed as ‘cash buyer only’, meaning that the purchaser must be able to buy the property outright without a mortgage. There are a few reasons why the property is being marketed in this way, including the need for a quick sale, the property is in a poor/derelict condition, or it is of an unusual construction type. There are no hard and fast rules here, each lender has their own approach to managing risk and will want to best protect their security over the property, so if for example, someone was looking to buy a property that has structural issues, or it is in an uninhabitable state, it is unlikely that a mortgage will be secured for it. The HomeOwners Alliance has an interesting article that looks at some of the pros and cons of buying a house for cash here.

Further to the 12-month break from possessions which commenced in April 2020 due to the pandemic, UK mortgage lenders have announced a moratorium on evictions over the Christmas period from 13th December through to 4th January 2022. Paul Broadhead, the Building Societies Association’s Head of Mortgage and Housing Policy said: “Repossessing someone’s home is an absolute last resort and lenders do all that they can to provide people suffering financial difficulties with the tailored support that they need.  The aim is to help people get back on their feet, but this Christmas and New Year moratorium will give some respite to those who have reached the end of the road.  For anyone who is facing financial difficulty the message is to get in touch with your lender early, as this gives the best chance of success.” The UK finance press release can be found here.

It is no secret to those in the property industry that 2021 was a very busy year for the housing market. But, are things set to continue in 2022? Rightmove have predicted that house prices will rise by another 5% in 2022; that will be a £17,000 increase on top of the current average national asking price of £342,401. The price increase is expected as there are still a huge number of house-hunters, but not enough housing supply. However, there has been a 19% jump in the number of people requesting a valuation via Rightmove in November compared with the same period last year.

Rightmove's Tim Bannister says:
“While the 2022 property market will continue to be busy, we forecast it to be less frenzied than 2021, especially as more owners decide to come to market in the first half of the year.

“Movers will benefit from good mortgage availability, as well as more choice of property – especially with the usual surge of sellers coming to market in the spring. Price rises will be slower this year, compared to 2021, which will encourage some homeowners who have held back on moving to take action.”

Read here.

UK Finance has published its Household Finance Review - Q3 2021. Whilst it deals with a variety of household finance matters, the mortgage market reflects what is going on with property. In Q3, mortgage figures showed a sharp drop following the peak in June which was just before the end of the stamp duty (SDLT) exemption. Having said that, activity in the market remained strong. Indeed, the report indicates that unless there is a significant reversal in the market, property purchase transactions in 2021 will reach their highest level since the peak in 2006, which was just before the global financial crisis. The report found that home movers were responsible for a high level of the activity due to their disproportionate benefit from the SDLT exemption and their desire for more space at home. In addition, as most people were remote working, they felt able to leave city areas feeling less constrained by the need to commute and looked to get more for their money in other locations. Read here. 

This article explains recent market analysis by estate agent comparison site GetAgent.co.uk shows that the average homebuyer in England is now £37,156 worse off thanks to the stamp duty holiday, with the average house price climbing by 14.8% across the nation since it launched in July of last year. This analysis came after the government released the September UK House Price Index, giving us the first concrete view of the market in September of this year when the stamp duty holiday ended.

Read the article here.