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Short-term LETs rules to Protect Communities and keep Homes Available

Short-term lets rules to protect communities and keep homes available

Local residents will be protected from being pushed out of their communities by excessive short-term lets thanks to changes in planning rules.

  • Planning permission will be required for future short-term lets
  • Mandatory national register will provide valuable information and help ensure accommodation is safe
  • Proposals will give communities greater control over future growth
  • Homeowners can continue to let out their own main or sole home for up to 90 nights a year

Local residents will be protected from being pushed out of their communities by excessive short-term lets thanks to changes in planning rules announced today.

Under the reforms councils will be given greater power to control short-term lets by making them subject to the planning process. This will support local people in areas where high numbers of short-term lets are preventing them from finding housing they can afford to buy or to rent.

These changes are part of a long-term plan to prevent a “hollowing out” of communities, address anti-social behaviour and ensure local people can continue to live in the place they call home.

Meanwhile, a new mandatory national register will give local authorities the information they need about short-term lets in their area. This will help councils understand the extent of short-term lets in their area, the effects on their communities, and underpin compliance with key health and safety regulations.

Short-term lets are now a significant part of the UK’s visitor economy, and can provide increased choice and flexibility for tourists and business travellers. To recognise this, homeowners will still be able to let out their own main or sole home for up to 90 nights throughout a year without planning permission and Government is considering how to apply the register so it does not apply disproportionate regulation for example on property owners that let out their home infrequently.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said:

Short-term lets can play an important role in the UK’s flourishing tourism economy, providing great, easily-accessible accommodation in some of the most beautiful parts of our country.

But in some areas, too many local families and young people feel they are being shut out of the housing market and denied the opportunity to rent or buy in their own community.

So the Government is taking action as part of its long-term plan for housing. That means delivering more of the right homes in the right places, and giving communities the power to decide.

This will allow local communities to take back control and strike the right balance between protecting the visitor economy and ensuring local people get the homes they need.

Tourism Minister Julia Lopez said:

Short-term lets provide flexibility for homeowners and give tourists more accommodation options than ever before, but this should not prevent local people from being able to buy or rent homes in their area.

The Government is committed to getting the balance right to ensure both local people and our visitor economy can thrive.

Amanda Cupples, General Manager for Northern Europe, Airbnb said:

The introduction of a short-term lets register is good news for everyone. Families who Host on Airbnb will benefit from clear rules that support their activity, and local authorities will get access to the information they need to assess and manage housing impacts and keep communities healthy, where necessary.

We have long led calls for the introduction of a Host register and we look forward to working together to make it a success.

The proposed planning changes would see a new planning ‘use class’ created for short-term lets not used as a sole or main home. Existing dedicated short-term lets will automatically be reclassified into the new use class and will not require a planning application.

The changes are part of the Government’s long-term plan for housing, unlocking more of the homes this country needs and meeting the target to deliver one million homes this Parliament, backed by £10 billion investment.

The Government also intends to introduce associated permitted development rights – one allowing for a property to be changed from a short-term let to a standard residential dwelling, and a second that would allow a property to be changed to a short-term let. Local authorities would be able to remove these permissions and require full planning permission if they deem it necessary.

Both of these measures are focussed on short-term lets, and therefore the planning changes and the register will not affect hotels, hostels or B&Bs.

Further details of these measures will be set out in the Government’s response to the consultations, including the timeline for implementation of the register, the use class and the individual permitted development rights – with the changes being introduced from this summer.

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‘How councils deal with private sector landlords is the next Post Office scandal’ – claim

Des Taylor

The way private landlords are treated by councils will be exposed as the ‘the next Post Office scandal’ it’s been claimed.

Des Taylor, a director of Landlord Licensing & Defence, a company that helps landlords comply with regulations and defend themselves against council actions, said that tenants are treated in a substandard way by local housing authorities, and yet nothing is done about it.

Instead, he believes that councils are guilty of severe maladministration, excessive enforcement and unfair licensing conditions against private sector landlords.

Taylor highlights that many local authorities fail to implement repairs and deal with anti-social behaviour for their own housing stock, while imposing criminal liability on landlords in the private sector for matters beyond their control.

He said: “Councils are the next Post Office scandal – the makings are all there.

“Tenants are human beings who deserve decent living conditions, but they are let down by councils who make nonsense PR statements about learnings and not meeting their own high standards, when they are found guilty by the Housing Ombudsman for severe maladministration.”

He points to the recent £18,800 compensation order from the Housing Ombudsman for Waltham Forest Council failings in three different cases, where the council closed a file on a tenant’s desperate repair request and did not do the repair for 11 months, despite the property having severe issues of mould and damp.

He commented: “It is disgraceful that they would ignore a tenant’s plea for help and not do the repair.

“In the private rented sector, a landlord would be hounded by enforcement operatives from the council, have Abatement Notices, Improvement Notices imposed upon them, and face serious trouble and legal action if they did not act promptly or dared to challenge the council’s demands, even if they were incorrect.”

He also accused councils of subcontracting tasks to firms that misadvise landlords and tenants, and of imposing licence conditions that are entrapment and unfair.

Taylor continued: “One of the council advisors asked a landlord if he would consider letting the tenant sublet, which would make a HMO, even though the area is both Article 4 (Planning Restricted) and a HMO Additional Licensing area, which would entrap the landlord if he had unwittingly agreed.

“Of course, they work for a landlord adversary, tenant loving company.”

He added: “Waltham Forest is a very regulated borough with Selective Licensing across the borough, with licence conditions that impose on licence holders the responsibility for ensuring compliance with its conditions at all times, and the criminal liability for anti-social behaviour, which the council and the police have proven themselves incapable of controlling.

“The council are not held to any standard and a Public Enquiry into this must happen for this and all local housing associations.”

He said that there are 10,000s of landlords who have been punished far more for far less serious matters, and that this will continue until the Public Enquiry takes place.

Mr Taylor said: “These articles show that the CEOs of these authorities are asleep at the wheel and incompetent, and at the same time the council staff in another department can punish private sector landlords who do the best they can, and spout lies and misinformation about landlords in the private rented sector, this is scandalous.

“How councils deal with Private Sector Landlords is the next Post Office scandal, and they will be exposed and held accountable for their actions.”

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Affordable housing loan scheme gets £3bn boost to build 20,000 new homes


Government-backed loan fund known as the affordable homes scheme is getting a £3bn uplift, which is expected to deliver 20,000 new homes.

The expansion of the Affordable Homes Scheme, which provides low-cost loans to housing providers, will support thousands of new homes. For the first time, the scheme can also be used to upgrade existing properties, making them warm and decent for tenants.

Providers will be able to apply for loans to carry out vital building safety works, such as the removal of dangerous cladding.

Backed by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the now £6bn fund will help housing providers access low-cost loans so they can expand their business, build more affordable homes and upgrade their existing stock.

Housing Minister Lee Rowley said:  “We know getting cost-effective loans can be a stumbling block for many developers building more affordable homes or upgrading their existing stock, so it is of the quality tenants deserve.

“This new round opening today will not only improve the lives of those already living in homes, but help thousands of families benefit from new, high-quality, affordable housing.”

Launched in 2020, the scheme, delivered by ARA Venn, is already helping 12 providers to deliver 6,290 new homes, with thousands more to be built in the coming years.

Among the beneficiaries of the scheme is Watford Community Housing. They first accessed the scheme back in November 2021 and it helped them build 200 new homes, including the firm’s first modular development.

As part of a second funding application made in December, they are set to build a further 100 affordable homes.

Watford Community housing deputy chief executive, Paul Richmond, said: “We were delighted to work with ARA Venn for a second time under the current Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme. The funding represents excellent value for the sector and offers best value for fixed rate debt for our organisation.

“The benefit of using the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme in terms of pricing over our 30-year plan is worth nearly 100 additional homes being delivered into our local community. This has significant commercial benefit to us but more importantly has a direct impact on the wider need to build more housing across the country.”

Richard Green, portfolio manager for AHGS20 and partner at ARA Venn, added:  “We are delighted that we will be able to provide low-cost loans to private registered providers across England to now facilitate investment in existing homes, in addition to new ones.

“We look forward to continuing and building on the success of the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme, that has already proved a key source of funding for the sector.

“This timely expansion of the scheme allows us to support the sector’s balancing of investment priorities between providing new homes and ensuring the quality and energy efficiency of existing homes.”

The government says it is making good progress and is on track to meet its manifesto commitment to build 1 million homes this Parliament and the target to deliver 300,000 homes a year remains.

This work is being supported by £10m investment to boost housing supply since the start of this Parliament. This is alongside the £11.5bn affordable homes programme, which will unlock £38bn in additional private investment.

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Want to know the best time of year to sell your home?

Want to know the best time of year to sell your home

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As the winter months draw to a close, the arrival of springtime and longer days can kick-start home-moving plans for many.

More people start their search for a new home in spring, and we start seeing more properties listed for sale.

Over the past five years*, our research shows that March has been the best time of the year to sell a home.

Why is March the best time to sell?

The number of buyers enquiring about homes for sale on Rightmove is usually highest at this time of year. We see more buyers looking to move in March than in any other month of the year. Competition between buyers for the homes available is traditionally at its peak.

And the good news is that buyers have more homes to choose from in March than at the start of the year, as the number of properties for sale tends to also be highest. There are more homes being listed for sale this year compared with last year.

And lots of home-hunters are keen to move into a new home before the start of summer, with things like gardens and outdoor space at the top of many home-movers’ wish-lists.

So, if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market this spring, it could mean you’ll have a better chance of selling, and sooner, because more buyers are looking to move, and there’s more competition for every available home.

Our property expert Tim Bannister says: “For any sellers who might be conscious of coming to market at a time when the number of new listings has traditionally been high, the data shows us that demand in March means sellers are most likely to be met with a potential buyer for their home.”

How to be in the best position to buy when you find the ‘one’

If you’re looking to buy, there are lots of things you can do to get yourself ready, including checking recent sold prices in the areas you’re home-hunting in, setting up property alerts, and getting a Mortgage in Principle in place. You can read our step-by-step guide to buying a home here.

If you’re thinking of selling your home, chances are you’ll be looking to buy a new property, too. Take a look at our guide to selling for help with making your sale go as smoothly as possible.

Another piece of guidance from estate agents is to make sure your home is on the market, or preferably sold subject to contract, before starting your property search. This is because many sellers will want to know their buyers have sales already agreed on their homes. If you have a home to sell, you can arrange a market valuation with an expert local agent here.

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Evergrande: Crisis-hit Chinese property giant ordered to liquidate

Crisis-hit Chinese property

A court in Hong Kong has ordered the liquidation of debt-laden Chinese property giant Evergrande.

Judge Linda Chan said “enough is enough”, after the troubled developer repeatedly failed to come up with a plan to restructure its debts.

The firm has been the poster child of China’s real estate crisis with more than $300bn (£236bn) of debt.

But it is unclear how far the Hong Kong ruling will hold sway in mainland China.

The property giant, which has been in hot water with its creditors for the last two years, filed a request for another three months’ leeway at 4pm on Friday.

But Judge Chan turned it down, describing the idea as “not even a restructuring proposal, much less a fully formulated proposal”. Instead she ordered the start of the process to unwind Evergrande, appointing liquidators at Alvarez & Marsal Asia to oversee it.

The liquidators said their intention was to “achieve a resolution that minimises further disruption for all stakeholders”.

“Our priority is to see as much of the business as possible retained, restructured, or remain operational,” said Wing Sze Tiffany Wong, one of the managing directors.

The slowburn crisis at Evergrande has sent shockwaves through the investment community, with its potential impact likened to the collapse of Lehman Brothers at the start of the financial crisis.

China’s property sector remains fragile as investors wait to see what approach Beijing will take to the court’s move.

The decision is likely to send further ripples through China’s financial markets at a time when authorities are trying to curb a stock market sell-off.

Evergrande shares fell by more than 20% in Hong Kong after the announcement, before trading was suspended.

The liquidators will look at Evergrande’s overall financial position and identify potential restructuring strategies. That could include seizing and selling off assets, so that the proceeds can be used to repay outstanding debts.

However, Beijing may be reluctant to see work halt on property developments in China, where many ordinary would-be homeowners are waiting for apartments they have already paid for.

Evergrande has come to symbolise the rollercoaster ride of China’s property boom and bust, borrowing heavily to finance the building of forests of tower blocks aimed at housing the millions of migrants moving from rural areas to cities. It ran into trouble, and defaulted on its debts in December 2021.

Evergrande’s chairman, Hui Ka Yan, hit the headlines for his lavish lifestyle, before it was announced last year that he was under investigation for suspected crimes.

Ordinary Chinese property buyers have limited options to demand compensation, but many have taken to social media to express their frustration about developers like Evergrande.

Big investors have turned to the courts, including in Hong Kong, where Evergrande’s shares are listed. The case that resulted in Monday’s ruling was brought in June 2022 by Hong Kong-based Top Shine Global, which said that Evergrande had not honoured an agreement to buy back shares.

Evergrande’s executive director, Shawn Siu, described the decision to appoint liquidators as “regrettable”, but told Chinese media the company would ensure home building projects would be delivered.

The unwinding is likely to take some time and construction is expected to continue in the meantime.

Most of Evergrande’s assets – 90% according to Judge Chan’s ruling – are in mainland China and despite the “one country, two systems” slogan, there are thorny jurisdictional issues.

Ahead of Monday’s ruling, China’s Supreme Court and Hong Kong’s Department of Justice signed an arrangement to mutually recognise and enforce civil and commercial judgements between mainland China and Hong Kong.

But experts are still unsure whether that agreement will have an impact on Evergrande’s liquidation order.

Derek Lai, the global insolvency leader at professional services firm Deloitte said the liquidator would need to “follow the laws of mainland China”, which could make it hard to take full control of Evergrande’s operations there.

Beijing may want to see mainland building projects completed to meet the expectations of Chinese buyers and investors.

Crisis-hit Chinese property

Foreign creditors are unlikely to get their money before mainland creditors.

However, even if Judge Chan’s orders are not carried out in China, the decision sends a strong message and gives a clue on what other developers and creditors may face.

She presides over not just Evergrande’s case, but also other defaulted developers such as Sunac China, Jiayuan and Kaisa.

Last May, she also ordered the liquidation of Jiayuan after its lawyers failed to explain why they needed more time to iron out their debt restructuring proposal.

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Labour MP Says Leasehold System Is Trapping People In Homes They Can’t Sell


Labour MP Barry Gardiner has put forward an amendment to the Leasehold and Freehold Bill to reform service charges and remove another income stream for freeholders, as he continues to campaign for the abolition of the leasehold system.

The MP for Brent North has campaigned to end the leasehold system for more than two decades, and advocates for replacing it with commonhold. Commonhold allows residents in a block of flats or estate to own the freehold of their building, and removes the time limit which people can live in their accommodation for. This system is used in the United States, Australia and across Europe.

Gardiner told PoliticsHome the leasehold system has inflicted human suffering on millions of people, and has trapped many of his constituents in homes they do not want to live in and cannot afford to sell.

“We haven’t begun to talk about the human problems here. About the people who have huge mental health problems, the people who have committed suicide,” he said, referring to the emotional toll he believed leasehold has caused for many.

“Many of them have found that they’re trapped, they can’t move…. We’re closing down their abilities to have families. They want to move to a larger property, but nobody will buy the one that they’re in. They can’t move. [Leasehold] is a nightmare for people.”

A leaseholder is a tenant who has paid to live in a property for a select period of time, and often includes apparent homeowners. Government data suggests long-term leaseholds usually last between 99-125 years.

Once the agreement ends, the property returns to the landlord, who owns the home and the plot of land. Government data suggests there are almost five million leasehold properties in England, which makes up 20 per cent of the current housing stock.

Under a highly technical amendment, Gardiner wants to ensure that freeholders — who lose the Right to Manage under the enfranchisement process — will not receive any funds from future service charge payments. The amendment would help make sure tenants pay their service charges to the new freeholder.

Service charges are costs residents pay to the freeholder which fund the upkeep and maintenance of a building.

Under the Right to Manage – a reform brought forward by former prime minister Tony Blair in 2002 – leaseholders can remove the managing agent or freeholder, and gain control of service charges. This can only happen if 50 per cent or more of existing residents vote for this change.

However, those who do not vote to gain control of the management of their building still have their lease with the old freeholder, and can be exploited by the old freeholder.

Gardiner is hoping that his amendment will prevent this from happening in the future – and cut off another income stream for freeholders.

The long-serving Labour MP said he was delighted the Labour Party was committed to overhauling the current leasehold system. He said it must be a priority for any future Labour Government to replace it with commonhold.

“God help us, if we get a Labour government, we must have this as a priority. Because millions, literally millions, of people in leasehold flats are sick to the back teeth of being treated as a money tree for their landlords,” he told PoliticsHome. “We know what our constituents are going through here, it’s purgatory.”

The Labour backbencher said he was confident Keir Starmer‘s bold position on leasehold would hold. Gardiner said if the Labour leader did renege on this commitment, there would be enough “strong voices” within the parliamentary party to pressure Starmer into implementing further reforms.

“This is something we have to do, and you will have trouble on your hands if you don’t,” Gardiner said, in a message to the Labour leadership.

The Labour Party has claimed it will end the “feudal” leasehold system. Lisa Nandy, the former Shadow Levelling-up Secretary, said the party would abolish leasehold within the first 100 days of office.

The Guardian reported that a future Labour Government would include a Leasehold Reform Bill within their first King’s Speech if the Conservatives failed to act.

Labour has pledged to adopt the proposals from the Law Commission which would make it easier for leaseholders to buy or extend their lease. Matthew Pennycook, the shadow housing minister, claimed on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it will be the responsibility of a future Labour government to “fundamentally and comprehensively overhaul the current system”.

One housing industry source told PoliticsHome they were concerned the Leasehold and Freehold Bill would reduce the quantity of Britain’s housing stock by removing the incentive to build new profitable leasehold properties. They claimed this would exacerbate the existing housing crisis and push house prices up even further. Research from Centre for Cities, a think tank, found that Britain has a shortfall of 4.3million houses.

Gardiner said this claim from the housing industry was “nonsense”. He said moving away from a leasehold system towards commonhold would be a “huge boost” for the UK economy. The Labour MP said leasehold was not a “fair” or a “free market” and had “all the hallmarks of an anti-competitive monopoly”.

Gardiner has produced a 40 minute documentary telling the stories of leaseholders trapped in homes they cannot afford to sell. It features residents across England and highlights the imbalance of power which keeps leaseholders “prisoners in their own homes”. It will be released by the end of January.

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