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Evictions – An important update for landlords in Crediton

are buy to let landlords to blame

On Friday it was announced by the Government there is now an extension on the ban on landlords evicting tenants in England and Wales.

The new ruling means landlords will have to legally wait until 20 September to begin proceedings using the eviction process. Landlords will now have to give tenants six months’ notice of eviction, before the pandemic struck it was usually two months.

It was a last-minute measure by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as the original deadline for evictions to begin was today, Monday 24 August.

The original regulations were put into place back in March shortly after the Covid-19 lockdown began. It was a move to protect genuine cases of tenants struggling to pay their rent due to the outbreak.

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, said: “I know this year has been challenging, and all of us are still living with the effects of Covid-19. That is why I am announcing a further four-week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for six months.

“I am also increasing protections for renters – six-month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.

“However, it is right that the most egregious cases, for example, those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators, begin to be heard in court again. So, when courts reopen, landlords will once again be able to progress these priority cases.”

The final part of his statement was notable for landlords already under pressure. It means the prioritisation of the most serious cases, including those landlords who have not received rent for over a year.

At Helmores we’ve always believed and advised our landlords that taking eviction action is a last resort.

Over the past five months, we’ve been focussing on proven techniques to reduce the risk of landlords and tenants having to go through the stress, cost and anxiety of the eviction process.

We’ve been:

  • Keeping in regular contact with tenants to spot and help if possible, with any affordability issues.
  • Helping our landlords understand any rent insurance policies they have in place.
  • Talking with tenants about their legal responsibilities, which have remained the same during the lockdown and beyond.
  • Working with landlords and tenants to come up with acceptable payment plans if necessary.

There are several other things we’ve been doing behind the scenes as we work hard to avoid the worst-case scenario. But we are fully prepared and ready if it does get to that point.

If you are a landlord and have questions around what the eviction ban extension means to you, call us, and one of our lettings’ experts will be on hand to answer them.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Huge Planning Permission Rule Changes for Crediton

So, how will this affect the 9,728 Crediton Property Owners?

The 1st July 1948 heralded a new dawn in how property was built, as the Town & Country Planning Act 1947 came into force, meaning no property could be built without the say so of the local authority. Now, Boris Johnson has announced a substantial change to that, by in effect, ending planning permission.

The decision of what gets built (and what doesn’t) will be removed from Mid Devon District Council and replaced by Westminster governed ‘Zoning Commissions’. The anticipated reform will give presumptive building rights to any piece of land outside areas of outstanding natural beauty, green belt and national parks, although in the press release there was mention of protection for the countryside.

Travel to Europe and its common to see out of place haphazard development of new households or commercial buildings, surrounded by open countryside…so let’s hope these new regulations protect us against that.

The principles of the planning rule changes are a departure away from looking at each planning application as a standalone application to a ‘zone-system’ of planning. Land will be divided into three classes: 1st for growth, 2nd for protection and 3rd for renewal. Anyone applying for planning permission to develop homes, offices and shops on land zoned for growth, will automatically be granted planning permission; whilst land zoned for renewal planning permission will be granted in principle while Government officers perform checks. Local authorities have until 2024 to designate areas for the three classes and once agreed, planning departments will have little or no say over individual applications that fit the rules.

Interestingly, these changes come on top of new planning regulations coming into force this September which gives implied rights to demolish any office building and replace with a block of flats, and the right to build extra floors/storeys on your home.

The Housing Secretary has specified the motive behind the changes to the planning system is not to make planning permissions easier to get (although 88% per cent of planning applications are approved by local authority’s already). Instead, they have been done to make the planning process quicker, less expensive and less likely to be held up by special ‘interest’ groups.

93% of planning permissions in Mid Devon District Council were approved last year (compared to the national average of 88%)

Noteworthy, the planning rules were changed in 2016 to turn disused shops and office space into residential homes (called ‘permitted development’ rights), yet these new regulations about to be announced by Boris will take that right even further.  This is important because in 2019, there were 241,340 new households created in the country, yet 29,260 of those households came from turning disused shops and office space into residential homes (i.e. the planning permission rule changes made in 2016).

An RICS report in 2018 showed a massive difference between the conversion of office blocks with planning permission and those without (i.e. permitted development). What was interesting is that only 1 in 5 properties met the national space standards, a non-legally binding suggestion on the minimum size of home, minimum dimensions of bedrooms, natural light, storage & floor to ceiling height, whilst 3 in 4 of office block conversions that did obtain planning permission met the standard.

So, what does this all mean to Crediton homeowners and Crediton landlords? If you have been reading my articles you will know that one of the most important factors holding back the Crediton property market is the lack of new properties being constructed and when they are, the lack of infrastructure surrounding them.

Since 1995, only 732 properties have been built in the postcode sector of EX17

Yet, these new planning changes will also introduce a new method of taking a lot more money off landowners and builders, as the Government will take a larger share of uplift in land value (i.e. the increase in value from farmland to building land) to finance infrastructure around the development.  This would mean new housing developments would come with upgraded roads, GP surgeries, primary schools and shops that these new communities need to be viable. Also, communities will be asked to decide on their own standards on style and design for new developments in their area, allowing residents a greater say on the development in their locality.

Like all things, the devil is in the detail. All of us in Crediton cannot deny that we need to build more homes to keep up with the ever-growing population and the fact that people are living longer. This new planning system should lead to more housebuilding, which in turn would increase the supply of property for those trying to get on the property ladder. Also, in the proposed legislation is the new ‘First Homes’ scheme, which would allow key workers, first time buyers and people who live or work in the Crediton area to purchase their new home at 30% less than its market value and when they come to sell it, that 30% discount would be passed on to the new buyer (if they also met the criteria).

With regard to what can be built and where, Crediton people will have a say upfront (i.e. between now and 2024 when the zoning rules are drawn up) but once the zoning has been established hopefully we can construct the Crediton homes we are proud of for our children and for Crediton generations to come. 

Please do let me have your thoughts on this matter in the comments section below.

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Every Crediton Homeowner & Landlord to Receive up to £5,000 Grant for Roof Insulation & Double Glazing from September

future green energy

The Chancellor announced on Wednesday 8th July in his mini Budget some interesting news for homeowners and landlords across the UK. Rishi Sunak is going to give ‘The Green Homes Grant’ of up to £5,000 to cover two-thirds of the costs of environmentally friendly upgrades to your property, with the homeowner covering the other third. There are also enhanced grants of £10,000 for the poorest households where 100% of the cost will be met by the Government.

This is nothing new mind you. The coalition Government in 2013 announced The Green Deal. That deal was in theory to have been a help for the builders, energy saving and home improvement industry, as the Government hoped many would take up environmentally friendly improvements to save energy (and ultimately greenhouse gases). Yet by the time it was brought to an end two years later only 14,000 households had applied, costing the taxpayer £238m (or £17,000 per household). That doesn’t sound good value to me – yet who am I to comment?!

Anyway, let’s not be negative, as improving our homes makes sense – after all, research shows Brits have the draughtiest homes in Europe. A recent survey suggests UK homes “leak” heat up to three times more quickly than more energy-efficient homes on the continent.

Data from 80,000 smart thermostats across the EU were reviewed to measure how quickly a home at 20°C inside cooled once the heating was turned off (when the outside temperature was 0°C). Within 5 hours, the average British home dropped by 3°C, the French came in second at 2.5°C yet the Germans came in at just 1°C, meaning British homes clearly need more heating (i.e. greenhouse gases) to keep them warmer.

The chancellor has allotted £2bn to the scheme, which pays for two thirds of the cost of the upgrade and stated that more than 650,000 homes would be upgraded. This could save those households a total of £195m a year in heating bills (or the equivalent of £300 a year per household), cutting greenhouse gases and saving jobs in the construction industry. The grant can be applied for from September and is open to Crediton homeowners and private sector Crediton landlords. Applications must be made before March 2021 and the Treasury have stated about half of the fund would go to households with the lowest incomes (how low is still to be announced), with an enhanced grant of up to £10,000, saving them up to £600 per annum each on their heating bills.

The average Crediton home annually produces 5.011 tonnes of CO2, compared to the national average of 4.101 tonnes

Due to the particular individual nature of the properties in Crediton and their construction type, with suitable improvements in insulation, double glazing and draught proofing, Government statistics state that this could be reduced to 2.748 tonnes for Crediton homes if suitable work (as per the Green Homes Grant) was carried out.

Why is this important? Well UK householders spend £34.735bn a year on their electric and gas bills – this is a lot of money. In fact, looking specifically at Crediton properties …

Crediton householders spend £814.40 per year on  heating their homes (compared to the national average of £669.34 per year)

Yet, if Crediton householders carried out the energy improvements that ‘The Green Homes Grant’ suggests their energy bills for heating alone would reduce to £570.26 per year … quite a saving over a decade and beyond (enough to buy a decent holiday – whatever one of those is!).

So, with Crediton homeowners and Crediton landlords being able to spend the grant on loft, floor and wall insulation, low carbon gas boilers, heat pumps, double or even triple-glazed windows, energy-efficient doors and low energy lighting … everyone should win – the environment, the economy and household budgets. More details on the scheme should be released by the Government in August. We’ll keep you posted on any updates!

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We’re All Going On A Stamp Duty Holiday!

Confused about the new Stamp Duty holiday announcement? Check out our simplified 2 minute guide!

What is Stamp Duty?

Stamp duty is simply a tax paid by people buying properties. The amount of tax is based upon the purchase price of the property. In England and Northern Ireland buyers pay Stamp Duty, and there there are different schemes for Scotland and Wales.

The amount of tax you pay depends on the purchase price of the property and whether you are buying it as your main home, or an additional property, buy-to-let etc.

What’s Changed?

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced changes to Stamp Duty on 8th July meaning any buyer purchasing a primary residential property will pay no stamp duty on the first £500,000. This means the most property buyers will benefit from some whopping savings!

So, getting down to the nitty gritty of it: on a property purchase over the £500,000 threshold, buyers will pay a 5% Stamp Duty but only on the portion from £500,001 to £925,000. Then it’s 10% on the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million and 12% on any portion over £1.5 million.

Some Examples

If you are buying your main home for £500,000 you would have paid £15,000 in Stamp Duty. Now you pay nothing.

If you are buying your main home for £750,000 you would have paid £27,500. Now you pay £12,500.

Second homes

There’s been a lot of confusion about purchasing a second home but we can confirm that there are large savings to be made here too. The higher additional rates remain, with a 3% higher rate on top of the new revised rates.

So, if you are purchasing a holiday home up to the threshold value of £500,000, you will pay 3% Stamp Duty.  If it’s over the threshold of £500,000 you’ll pay 8% on the portion from £500,001 to £925,000, 13% on the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million, and 15% on the remaining portion over £1.5 million.

Visit gov.uk for more information

Why have the Government made these changes?

This move by the Government will keep the post lock-down property market momentum going strong and help the broader economy.

This is because when people move, they often spend thousands of pounds doing up their new home to suit their lifestyle and tastes. Think about it: when you move home, you often spend money on new carpets, curtains, kitchen units, and even new furnishings etc.

So when does all this end?

From 1 April 2021, the Stamp Duty holiday ends and the old regulations will revert to what they were before these temporary changes were announced, unless the Government decide otherwise, of course. We can live in hope!

Our thoughts on it all

The change means now is a great time to put your property on the market as we’re expecting a surge of buyers looking to make their move while they can save a large chunk of hard earned cash.

We’re primed and ready to take your calls and answer any questions you have around the new Stamp Duty changes. So, if you are thinking of buying or selling in 2020 the time’s never been better thanks to this news!

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Our Stay Safe Policy

the property market is open for business helmores

At Helmores we’re all very excited about the prospect of being able to help you find your dream home BUT the safety of you, our colleagues, and our clients is our utmost priority, so it’s really important that you read and understand our stay safe policy:

For viewings, the government are advising that you should view properties “virtually” in the first instance, and then only physically view properties that you have a strong interest in. This will help reduce the number of properties you need to visit before finding your new home. Many of our sale properties already have interactive virtual tours and we’re working hard to ensure all properties will have this facility as soon as possible.

In addition to this we recommend that you use Google Maps and Street View to check out the location of any property before you make a viewing appointment. It’s great fun scoping out different areas!

We will do everything possible to make your viewing enjoyable and informative, whilst keeping you and us as safe as possible.

Viewings

  • Please provide and wear your own face covering and gloves.
  • Viewing times will be limited in order for us to have time to ensure surfaces such as door handles, worktops, cupboard doors etc are cleaned.
  • Please only one person or a couple from the same household on a viewing at any time.
  • Please wash your hands before you leave your home and ensure that during the viewing you don’t touch any surfaces.
  • Please follow social distancing rules and keep at least 2m distance from our team member.
  • Please ensure you have viewed the interactive virtual tour or video on our website beforehand.
  • Ideally you should at least have your own property on the market, sale agreed or sold. If you need to sell a property but you’re not on the market, we’d love to speak with you about this!
  • If you arrive early at a property viewing, please wait outside for our team member to arrive.
  • If you or any of your household have symptoms or have been asked to self-isolate please don’t ask us to arrange any physical viewings – although we’d still love to chat with you over the phone and keep in contact with you for when you have fully recovered.

Visitors to our Offices

  • If you or any of your household have symptoms or have been asked to self-isolate please stay at home. We’d love to chat to you over the phone though!
  • Please call or email us to fix an appointment to visit us 01363 777999 or [email protected]
  • Only one visitor to enter at a time (two people from the same household may enter).
  • If the front office space is already occupied please wait outside for them to leave.
  • Please follow social distancing rules and keep at least 2m distance from our team member, keeping behind the hatched floor tape.
  • If handing over paperwork or keys please place on the desk at the front of the office.
  • We will sanitise keys with an antibacterial wipe or spray prior to hand over.
  • We are aiming to be a paperless office so documents or property details will be emailed as a PDF document to minimise contamination risk
  • Please use the hand sanitiser by the front door when you enter our building.
  • Please use your own pen to sign paperwork.

Finally, if you need any help with ANYTHING property related we’d love to hear from you – no question is too silly or too small! Just pick up the phone or drop us an email 01363 777999 or [email protected]

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The important thing is that we stick together!

As the situation with Covid-19 continues to develop, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers and staff for their loyalty and support during what is clearly a very challenging and uncertain time for the whole of the UK.

Your well-being is our absolute priority and therefore we have closed the office in line with the government decision to close all non-essential shops.

Whilst our office might be closed, our team are still working harder than ever from their homes.

Our IT systems mean that we can work remotely.

All phone call are diverted to our homes so we are ready to help our customers every single day.

Our valuers, George and Ian are ready and waiting to give you valuation and marketing advice over the phone or even by video call!

For current sales going through, our sales progressor Jonathan is keeping current property sales running as smoothly as possible.

We will open as soon as it is practically and safely possible.

As the great philosopher Buzz Lightyear once said “the important thing is that we stick together”!

Telephone: 01363 777999 (option 1 sales, option 2 rentals)

General Enquiries: [email protected]

Sales Progression: [email protected]

Valuations: [email protected] [email protected]

Accounts: [email protected]

Rentals: [email protected]

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CV-19 Update

Prevention COVID 2019 pandemic.

We’ve taken the decision to close our High Street office to the general public and work behind closed doors. We’re still business as usual (as much as possible).

We’ve taken this decision to protect ourselves and those most vulnerable. We each have a part to play in defeating this virus and minimising the risk to all is the very least we can do.

For all viewings, get in touch, we’re dealing with properties on a case by case basis. We’re massively busy producing 3D tours and all of these will be posted in our Facebook group Helmores Property Premiere so be sure to join the group so you don’t miss out any property updates. Our Matterport 3d tours are amazing, and do give a real sense of what the property is actually like.

For key handovers and other absolutely essential visits please contact us in advance.

If you would like a valuation of your property give George or Ian a call or drop them an email and they will get back to you to discuss a plan of how we do this. If you prefer a “desktop” valuation, they both have so many years experience that they will be able to give you some accurate figures of your property without seeing it, by chatting it through over the phone or video call.

Our sales progressor Jonathan is flat out (as usual!) keeping current property sales running as smoothly as possible. If you have any concerns or questions get in touch.

We’re on the phone, email, Facebook Messanger – whatever suits you, and we’d love to hear from you!

Telephone: 01363 777999

General Enquiries: [email protected]

Sales Progression: [email protected]

Valuations: [email protected] [email protected]

Accounts: [email protected]

Rentals: [email protected]

That’s it for now folks – stay safe, stay healthy and stay positive – we will get through this!

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Corona Virus Update

Blood test of covid-19 concept

Whilst the Corona virus continues to spread further across the UK, we are very much “business as usual”.

We are maintaining a calm and practical approach to this issue but also taking our responsibility to our staff and our customers very seriously.

As a team, we are adhering to best practice guidelines provided by the Government and Public Health England.

Whether you are buying, selling or renting, we’re doing everything we can to make the process as easy and as safe as possible for everyone:

Property Valuations:  If you’re worried about getting your property valued by us in person, we can give you a very good idea of value (sales or rentals) without seeing your property, either by phone or a video call with you.

Advice Meetings:  You can schedule a video call with us using WhatsApp or Zoom (most laptops have Webcams built in).  Just call or email to fix a time and we’ll do the rest.

Video Tours:  Many of our properties have amazing Interactive 3d Tours, and in addition to this we’re now shooting video tours which will be posted in our Helmores VIP Facebook group.  If you’re self-isolating and there’s a particular property that you’d like a tour of, get in touch and we’ll get it done!

Reassurance:  If you are concerned about viewing a property, having an in person valuation at your home, or you are a tenant awaiting a property inspection – we can wear gloves and facemasks if you prefer – just let us know.

Hand Shaking:  We are operating a ‘no shaking hands’ policy so please don’t be offended! 

Been Abroad? If you have recently (within the last 14 days) returned from one of the High risk countries detailed on the Government website, we would respectfully ask you to contact us by phone or email rather than coming to our offices.

Helmores VIP Facebook group:  Join this brilliant Facebook Group and see all new properties before they launch to the market, including video tours, and much more – its great whether you are self isolating or not!

Please contact me, Rob Stoyle, if you need any further help and I’ll do my utmost for you.

01363 777999
[email protected]

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A 2-minute budget summary for landlords in Crediton

Time to go over the budget

The new Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his budget this afternoon. But the big news relating to property came more than five hours before.

The Bank of England (BoE) announced an emergency cut in interest rates to bolster the economy in the ongoing fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.

The BoE reduced rates from 0.75% to 0.25%, taking borrowing costs back down to the lowest level in history.

This drastic move should promote mortgage lending and make it cheaper and easier to get a mortgage. This could help maintain the positive momentum in the housing market since the election in December.

The flip side is it is almost pointless saving money in a bank, which is more than likely what the cut is designed to do. To get people spending and investing, rather than saving.

Back to the Budget

For domestic landlords, there was very little to get excited about. It contained nothing of note that was directly linked to them or the lettings industry. But there could be an opportunity further down the line thanks to the change below.

The only stamp duty measure is a two per cent surcharge on the purchase of UK investment properties by non-resident overseas buyers. This is set to begin in April 2021.

However, if the tax deters overseas investors, it could reduce competition for domestic landlords who could then invest in providing more homes for a growing number of tenants.

The budget’s key focus was quite rightly trying to protect the people of the UK against the health and financial impact of the Coronavirus with a £30billion fund to fight the disease and its fallout.

Help for the Homeless

A welcome £650m commitment was made to provide more than 6000 places for homeless people and rough sleepers.

And the Chancellor announced a freeze on the duties on fuel and alcoholic drinks including cider, whisky and beer.

There was also £500m a year assigned to fixing 50 million potholes. So perhaps a smoother journey in the future is something worth raising a glass to?

To find out more information about what the budget could mean to your rental investments and the Crediton property market get in touch or ask us a question on social media!

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Let’s Get Kids in Crediton Reading More!

In this 90 second read, we celebrate the upcoming World Book Day and some of the moving stories we’re lucky enough to share.

It’s World Book Day later this week. This fantastic project aims to get more children reading for fun – and we’re fully supporting its efforts in Crediton which we’ll be announcing on Thursday, so watch this space!

Its mission this year is to get kids and adults reading a million stories across the UK on Thursday 5 March. The charity behind the day encourages parents, carers and family members to read for fun (i.e. not schoolwork) with their children for just ten minutes every day.

Why it Matters

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success, more than their family circumstances, parents’ educational background or their income.”

We’re privileged that as estate agents in mid Devon we get to listen to people’s stories, because behind every home sold and bought is a personal story. It could be the newlywed young couple excitedly stepping onto the property ladder. The family which has grown and now needs extra space to fit in a bigger dining table, the pets, the kids’ toys and books. Or recently retired people looking to downsize and fund a bucket list ticking trip around the world now that the ‘children’ have grown up and flown the nest.

What’s Your Story?

We come across so many different people with fascinating, moving and uplifting stories. It’s what makes us love our jobs.

Whatever your story is at Helmores we’ll do all we can to make sure your property tale has a happy ending.

To find out more about World Book Day and how you can take part visit: https://www.worldbookday.com/

Happy reading!