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UK inflation falls to 3.4% – lowest level for almost two and a half years

UK inflation falls to 3.4% - lowest level for almost two and a half years

Recap: Inflation falls to lowest level in over two years

We’ll be closing this page soon, so here’s a quick summary of what we’ve learned this morning:

  • UK inflation fell to 3.4% for the year to February – the lowest level in almost two and a half years
  • But that doesn’t mean the cost of living is falling, it means that prices are rising less quickly than they were before
  • The drop in inflation was helped by a decrease in food price inflation, along with soft drinks, restaurants and hotels, according to the Office for National Statistics
  • But this has been partially offset by an uptick in petrol and diesel prices
  • A number of economists have predicted that inflation is likely to hit the Bank of England’s (BoE) target of 2% this summer
  • Chancellor Jeremy Hunt says this shows “the plan is working”, and it now “opens the door” for the BoE to consider bringing down interest rates
  • But Labour’s Rachel Reeves says “prices are still high” and the country “cannot afford another five years” of a Conservative government
  1. UK inflation falls to 3.4% in the year to February – the lowest level in almost two and a half years
  2. The slower pace of food price rises helped push down inflation, along with soft drinks, restaurants and hotels, the Office for National Statistics said
  3. This effect was partially offset by petrol prices and rental costs
  4. Overall, the cost of living is not falling but prices are rising less quickly than they were previously
  5. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt says the “plan is working” but Labour’s Rachel Reeves calls for an election, saying “Britain cannot afford another five years” of a Conservative government
  6. Inflation was running at 4% in the year to January, the same as December’s rate
  7. Inflation peaked at 11.1% in October 2022 – the government pledged to halve the rate in 2023
  8. The Bank of England, which has a target rate of inflation of 2%, uses the latest figure when weighing up whether to raise or lower interest rates.
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Estate agents warned about potential problems caused by invasive bamboo

Estate agents warned about potential problems caused by invasive bamboo

Homeowners have long been warned that invasive bamboo can be more damaging to a property if left unchecked, with surveyors increasingly flagging it up as an issue when affected properties are bought and sold, forcing sellers to either take action to remove it or accept a discount on the price to reflect removal costs.

Between June and December 2023, invasive plant specialist Environet saw a 55% annual increase in enquiries for bamboo removal relating to property transactions, indicating that buyers are becoming more aware of the risks and insisting that problematic bamboo infestations are dealt with.

According to Environet, there are a ‘running’ variety of bamboo, with some already posing a threat to underground services, including pipes and drains, and there are cases where it has affected neighbouring properties.

Hardy, fast-growing and tolerant of most soil types, bamboo is popular for its screening qualities, creating privacy in overlooked gardens. Commonly planted in borders and along boundary fences, it has the ability to push through brickwork, drains, patios, cavity walls and even cracks or weaknesses in concrete.

In 2022, at a property in Hampshire, a bamboo infestation that had spread from next door exploited a weakness in the foundations of a property to emerge through the floor in the living room, hall and kitchen, resulting in the excavation of the entire ground floor at a cost of over £100,000.

Nic Seal, founder of Environet, said: “In my view, bamboo is at least as destructive as Japanese knotweed, due to the astonishing rate at which the runners grow, enabling it to spread and cause damage more quickly.

“Surveyors are flagging the issue much more frequently than they were a couple of years ago and buyers are rightly insisting that bamboo infestations are properly dealt with.

“In addition to damage to the property and garden, buyers need to consider the risk of a legal case from a neighbour if the bamboo has encroached into their property, which could be expensive to resolve.”

Sellers are legally required to declare the presence of Japanese knotweed on a property when completing the TA6 Property Information Form, but bamboo does not need to be declared. Buyers and agents are therefore advised to be vigilant for signs of the plant on viewings, for example, canes which have been cut back, or new shoots emerging from the ground. A good surveyor should flag a bamboo infestation that has running the risk of damage or encroachment, and a professional bamboo survey will determine the extent of the infestation and estimated removal costs.

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Population Projections have repercussions for Private Rental Sector

Population Projections have repercussions for Private Rental Sector
The Government quietly announced population projections towards the end of January that could have major implications for the types of homes we need going forward and, in particular, the private rental sector (PRS).According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK population is projected to grow by 9.9% to 73.7 million between 2021 and 2036. That’s an extra 6.6 million people that will need a roof over their heads. The overwhelming majority of the increase – 92% – is forecast to be driven by net international migration.Immigration has long been a hotly debated issue, dividing opinion in the pub as much as in Parliament. It is now widely acknowledged that a migrant workforce is a vital component in the UK economy, so is as important now as ever before, but critics point to the impact that this has on our overstretched infrastructure.
Whatever your politics on this issue, this surge in international migration poses issues for UK policymakers and the housing market. Immigrants typically seek short-term housing solutions when they move to the country, either in the form of living with resident family or privately rented accommodation.Now look at the ONS’ household formation projections for England. These figures date back to 2020 and we expect an update from the Government next year, but they still highlight the direction of travel, which is that new households will be older and more people will live alone. This again has major implications for housing provision and demand for rented homes.Nearly two thirds, 64%, of the projected growth in households is where the household reference person (the head of the household in ONS terms) is aged 75 years or older. Meanwhile, 95% of the increase is attributable to one-person households and multiple adult households without dependent children. Again, one of the fastest-growing tenant groups in the PRS over the decade has been older people.Finally, let’s consider the type of homes we’re building. According to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), just 7% of homes completed in England in the year to April 2023 were one-bedroom houses or flats, a figure that falls to just 5% by those built by private enterprises rather than housing associations. Just under two thirds of housing completions were three or four-bed properties.

So, what does this mean for the housing market? Put bluntly, not only are we not building enough homes, we aren’t producing the right type of homes to cater for future housing needs.

Frustratingly, we aren’t just sleepwalking into a deeper housing crisis, we are striding towards it with eyes wide open.

Government and policymakers know we aren’t building enough homes, but there is an apparent lack of desire or political bravery to tackle the underlying problem to address it. There have been so many Housing Ministers in recent years that they should install a revolving door into the holder’s office at DLUHC.

Our housebuilders have raised concerns about the planning system being slow and burdensome, mired in local politics and interests, for years. Yet nothing of any substance has been done and the removal of the 300,000 housing target has exacerbated the problem.

Looking at the PRS specifically, the brakes applied to the sector by the Government policies implemented in the latter half of the last decade worked. The rate of growth of the PRS has been curtailed and the number of owner-occupied homes, mortgaged or owned outright, has hit a record level according to the latest English Housing Survey.

That’s great, but owner-occupation will not be the only game in town for our future housing needs. We need to be clear with policymakers and politicians – rented homes will be an important part of the mix and those policies need to be reconsidered in the light of our shifting population demographics.

Policies need to be developed that encourage continued investment in the sector from private landlords who can quickly and efficiently react to local market needs.

Build-to-Rent will undoubtedly be part of the solution, but it will continue to complement rather than replace private landlords. I have said it before, but there is competition for capital; private landlords need a stable and fair regulatory and fiscal environment in which to operate.

As we look towards a new Government in the coming months, we urgently need a radical, holistic, realistic and deliverable plan to meet our future housing needs. We will be working with whichever Government is in place to stress this point.

Anything else is storing up major problems for future generations.

* Richard Rowntree is Managing Director of Mortgages at Paragon Bank *

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Airbnb bans hosts from using indoor security cameras in rentals

Airbnb bans hosts from using indoor security cameras in rentals

Airbnb is banning the use of security cameras inside rental properties.

In an update on its policy, the company said its rules for hosts would change on April 30.

It said this would bar the use of indoor security cameras across all properties let through the platform, after oncerns about guests’ privacy.

Historically Airbnb had allowed security cameras in common areas such as living rooms and hallways, as long as the location of the equipment was made clear.

“Our goal was to create new, clear rules that provide our community with greater clarity about what to expect on Airbnb,” said Airbnb’s Head of Community Policy and Partnerships, Juniper Downs, in a statement.


“These changes were made in consultation with our guests, hosts and privacy experts, and we’ll continue to seek feedback to help ensure our policies work for our global community.”

Ms Downs said she expected the policy to affect relatively few properties as most do not have indoor security cameras.

Some Airbnb users have previously expressed privacy concerns about security cameras, although Airbnb has always banned their use in private spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms.

The new rules will also bar outdoor cameras which face inwards into the property.

However, outdoor cameras such as ‘Ring’ doorbells and noise monitoring equipment in communal areas are still permitted, although these will still need to be made clear on a property’s listing.

The announcement comes just over a week after US comedy show Saturday Night Live aired a spoof advert about the company which joked about a camera being hidden in a toilet.

The skit has been watched more than a million times on YouTube.

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Changes to various permitted development rights: consultation

Open consultation Changes to various permitted development rights consultation

Scope of the consultation

Topic of this consultation:

This consultation contains proposed changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended. It covers the following areas:

  • Changes to certain permitted development rights which enable householders to improve and enlarge their homes.
  • Changes to the building upwards permitted development rights which enable the upward extension of a range of existing buildings.
  • Changes to the permitted development right which allows for the demolition of certain buildings and rebuild as homes.
  • Changes to the permitted development rights which enable the installation of electrical outlets and upstands for recharging electric vehicles.
  • Changes to the permitted development right for the installation of air source heat pumps.

Scope of this consultation:

This consultation seeks views on proposals relating to permitted development rights.

We are seeking views on proposed changes to the permitted development rights which allow householders to enlarge their homes, make alterations or extensions to the roof, and construct buildings incidental to the enjoyment of the main house, such as bin and bike stores.

We are proposing amendments to certain rights that allow for the upward extension of a range of existing buildings and allow for the demolition of certain buildings and rebuild as homes. The proposed changes will increase the scope of buildings that can benefit from the right. We are also seeking views on whether the prior approval process for these permitted development rights can be simplified or streamlined to improve efficiency.

We are consulting on changes to the permitted development rights that allow for the installation of off-street electric vehicle charging infrastructure. This includes amending the rights to allow the installation of wall-mounted and upstand electrical outlets within 2 metres of a highway and the installation of larger upstands. We are also seeking feedback on whether permitted development rights should allow units for equipment housing or storage cabinets.

Finally, the consultation seeks views on proposed changes to the permitted development right that allows for the installation of air source heat pumps on domestic premises.

Geographical scope:

These proposals relate to England only.

Impact assessment and Public Sector Equality Duty:

The consultation seeks views on any potential impacts on businesses, local planning authorities and communities from the proposed measures. The government is mindful of its responsibility to have regard to the potential impact of any proposals on the Public Sector Equality Duty, and therefore views are additionally sought on whether there are any impacts arising from these measures on those with a protected characteristic.

Basic information

Body/bodies responsible for the consultation:

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.


This consultation will last for 8 weeks from 13 February 2024 to 9 April 2024.


For any enquiries about the consultation please contact:

[email protected]

Read more for  Complete information.

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Gove says landlords will face Section 21 ban ‘before election’

Gove says landlords will face Section 21 ban 'before election'

Housing secretary Michael Gove has told theBBC that he will outlaw Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions before the GeneralElection, which has to take place before the end of January next year.

The announcement by Gove in answer to a question during the BBC Laura Kuenssberg show over the and is a big U-turn by the Government.

Although banning Sections 21 evictions is part of the Renters (Reform) Bill, Govehad previously said it would only become law once the courts system, which waslast week portrayed as ‘in crisis’, improved.

Gove, answering a question on whether no fault evictions would be outlawed bythe General Election, told Kuenssberg that “we will have outlawed it andwe will have put the money into the courts in order to ensure that they canenforce that”.


But he said it was important to deal with the “abuse” of no-faultevictions.

“It is the case thatthere are a small minority of unscrupulous landlords who use the threat ofeviction either to jack up rents or to silence people who are complaining aboutthe quality of their homes,” he said.

Gove’s change of mindfollows heavy criticism from Shelter and a coalition of other housing charitieslast week over delays to the Renters (Reform) Bill’s progress through parliament,claiming Gove had ‘deprioritised it’.

Although the courts system remains extremely slow for landlords seeking toevict problem tenants with many claiming it takes over a year to evict,official figures show wait times are decreasing.

The latest ONS quarterly figures reveal that the medianaverage time from claim to landlord repossession decreased to 21.7 weeks, down from 42.3 weeks in the same period during2021.

Expert reaction

Samuel LearSamuel Lear, Associate, Charles Russell Speechlys:  “The anticipated changes under the Renters (Reform) Bill are wide-ranging and will require significant re-adjustments to existing processes.

“But the test of the success of the Bill, once implemented, will be whether it sufficiently strikes a fair balance between landlords and tenants.

“With landlords already subject to significant statutory obligations, an unintended consequence of not striking that fair balance is that landlords could decide to leave the market altogether, causing further supply issues and potentially adversely affecting tenants.”

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