Welcome to our Spring Newsletter 2022
The team at Landlord Broadband hopes that you enjoy the newest edition of our quarterly newsletter. If you would like to read our industry news and customer market updates from the last quarter, click here.
For the first time, the government have announced plans to enforce a new set of national standards on private rental properties across the UK. The measures will form part of the governments new ‘Levelling up’ white paper, which was released in January. Under new legislation, private landlords must commit to keeping their properties in a ‘decent state of repair.’ In addition, landlords will also be required to periodically update their properties whenever necessary. This has always been the case for social housing landlords but will only become a legal requirement for the private sector in Spring of this year.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has also announced plans to ‘explore the introduction of a National Landlord Register’ after tenant rights campaigners exposed a rise in ‘slum like’ unlicensed rental properties containing ‘no fire alarms’ and ‘dangerous electrics’ (Letting a Property). It is hoped that the introduction of a formal register would ‘give enforcement authorities valuable intelligence’ that would make it easier to enforce the rights of tenants and prevent criminals from renting out homes. More detailed information of these plans will be released in the second quarter of this year.
It’s good news for the North East in the finance department this quarter, as it has been found that BTL returns in this region are higher than those in London. This is due to higher rental yields and higher growth in prices. To put this into context, a portfolio created with a £50k deposit in the Northeast, with a 75% mortgage and rents reinvested in portfolio growth over 25 years would be worth £6.3m, compared to £4.7m in London (FT). It seems it is not so grim up North! Continuing the subject of rental returns, the investor Legal & General has announced a further £2.5bn of pension savings into Build to Rent developments, aiming to respond to popular demand from younger generations and create up to 7,000 new homes. This scheme intends to target ‘derelict’ city centres and utilize funds to fill infrastructure gaps and solve housing problems within the UK (FT).
The chancellor’s spring statement has made ripples across the UK, but one cannot deny the positive effects that VAT cuts on green homes will have for the property industry. VAT on the installation of Environmental and Social Management Systems has been cut from 5% to 0%, this means that properties will be able to manage energy efficiency through systems such as solar panels, with a significant cost reduction. With impending energy efficiency targets for the property sector, these financial incentives are no doubt a welcome break for many (FT).
Lauren Westen, of Thomvest Ventures, expressed that proptech has reached maturity. This may lead to additional mergers following industry consolidation, according to Rah Singh of JLL Spark (Crunchbase).
Investment in proptech is projected to continue to rise during 2022, with construction tech being a particularly attractive area to investors. A proptech startup, Sugar, helps build a community amongst residents by utilising technology. The CEO, Fatima Dicko, has stated that the aging Gen Z are becoming renters which has led to an increased interest in SMART technology for the home (Crunchbase). We are likely to see more innovation in the sector creating solutions for tenants to satisfy their digital needs.
With the pandemic leading to an increase in virtual tours, it is unsurprising that there has been an increase in online house hunting, with an estimated 95% of people searching online (UKTN). If more of the property purchasing process were to move online, we could see the digitalisation of the entire property market.
As ever, there’s plenty of news to cover within the Landlords sector this quarter. First and foremost, the ever-growing need to become more energy efficient consistently appears within the headlines. Most recently, a government grant has been announced to encourage landlords to install electric vehicle charging points in their properties. This grant of £350 (towards an average £500 installation cost) will be available for each charging point with a socket, and each landlord will be able to apply for up to 200 payments (NRLA). One also cannot address the events of this quarter, without acknowledging the horrific events currently occurring in Ukraine. Many schemes have been set up to allow landlords to help Ukrainian refugees during this period, with the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme allowing Landlords and Tenants (with permission) to offer rent-free rooms to refugees (NRLA) This is alongside schemes such as Ministry of Rooms allowing free-of-charge room donation on their website, with the intention to make it easier for refugees to access safe housing in the UK (Landlord Today).
In the PropTech world, a new development has been made to save time for Landlords using the TDS. A TDS API integration on the Yardi platform has been developed to allow landlords to register tenants’ deposits without having to manually enter data. Ultimately, this aims to make the process more efficient than ever (Landlord Today).
Build to Rent
The Build to Rent (BTR) market has performed encouragingly well over the first quarter of the year, with early predictions suggesting that the sector can look forward to a ‘phenomenal’ period of growth during 2022 (CBRE). In fact, The British Property Federation’s latest quarterly report found that there are already over 42,000 BTR projects under construction at present, in addition to another 99, 273 in the planning pipeline.
The most prominent developments agreed this quarter include Watkin Jones and Get Living’s forward funding deal to deliver a new development on Sherlock Street in Birmingham. The project will be finished by 2025 and will provide 551 new one, two, and three bedroom apartments – 47 of which will be affordable. The apartments will enjoy access to a range of luxury amenities including a social lounge, gym, and co-working spaces (BTR News). In addition to this, Capital and Centric have received planning permission to start building a ‘vibrant new neighbourhood’ in Stoke-on-Trent. The £60m ‘Goods Yard’ development promises to transform the current industrial site into a bustling community, complete with 174 new BTR apartments, as well as shops, cafes, and workspaces for creative start-ups (BTR News). The project will be backed by the government’s Levelling Up Fund.
The single-family BTR housing market has grown substantially this quarter. This growth is thought to stem from a societal change in attitude towards renting and the rising number of families who cannot afford to buy. One firm that hopes to capture this growing trend is Eden Living, who have partnered with Edenstone Homes to build 400 new single-family homes across South Wales and Southwest England. The homes will be built in close proximity to schools, amenities and transport links, with the aim of creating new local communities (BTR News).
Initial data for the 2022/23 academic year has shown promising potential for the PBSA market to flourish over the year ahead. There has been a 5% increase in the number of 18 year old students applying to go to University this Autumn, as well as a 4% increase in applications from international students. The current undersupply of student accommodation in the UK, as well as the positive news around student numbers will be a key driver for continued investment into PBSA assets over the coming months (Knight Frank).
Notable investments agreed in quarter one include Amazon Capital’s promise to invest a £250m real estate fund into joint venture opportunities in the PBSA market. The firm will work with development and asset managers to fund the acquisition of a series of PBSA sites in key university centres such as London and regional cities. The projects will focus on providing 300 to 500 student bed developments (PBSA News). Furthermore, global real estate management firm, Heitman LLC, has acquired a trio of UK PBSA assets at a cost of £70m. The developments include one occupied asset and two forward-funded developments situated in proximity to attract students from the University of Leeds and the University of Brighton (PBSA News).
In other news, a new report by Star Rez has highlighted the growing importance of IoT-supported technologies in student housing. IoT stands for ‘Internet of Things’ and refers to devices that send and receive information via the cloud. These devices offer the potential to considerably streamline the building management of PBSA properties. Uses for IoT technologies can include the installation of touchless access systems (which can help students to get in and out of buildings whilst minimising the spread of germs), or remote student check in systems which reduces the need for onsite staff.
The Welsh government has continued to actively address the second home crisis. Local authorities now have the power to maximise council tax premiums for second homes (Gov.Wales). This will come into effect from April 2023. Holiday lets have been subject to new local tax rules (Gov.Wales). Only time will tell whether these measures are effective or not.
In Scotland, short-term let landlords will need to apply for a license by April 2023 (Gov.Scot). The government is hoping that this will help to address the issues raised by the locals concerning anti-social behaviour and the lack of affordable housing. In addition, the government aims to work with local authorities in the summer of 2023 to review short-term let activity (Gov.Scot). They hope to identify any additional changes that need to be made.
In England, the criticism against second homeowners continues to rage on. In Cornwall, people have taken to graffiti, one such message stating “Second home owners give something back: rent or sell your empty houses to local people at a fair price.” (ITV). It is clear that locals expect more to be done by the government to deal with the second home crisis.
Housing affordability has been a rising issue. The Housing Affordability in England and Wales: 2021 census revealedfull-time employees in England can spend 9.1x their work income on purchasing a home. In Wales, this number is 6.4x. Both have increased since 2020 (ONS.Gov.uk). During the next three years, the Welsh government will spend a confirmed £1 billion on social housing. These new builds will hopefully provide more affordable housing options for locals.
In England, social housing landlords are being ‘named and shamed’ for providing subpar housing (Gov.uk). This will help to encourage social housing tenants to voice their concerns. It will also help to decrease the number of inadequate homes, which the government have a target to decrease by half by 2030.
Hidden homelessness is an increasing issue in Northern Ireland due to the increased cost of living as a direct result of the pandemic. Over 110,000 people may be affected according to a report by Simon Community. It is much harder to quantify than rough sleeping, as individuals stay with family and friends. Prevention of homelessness is therefore much harder to achieve. The government will likely need to invest in more affordable and social housing to combat this issue.
The Scottish government published statistics on veteran and youth homelessness for the 2020-2021 period (Gov.Scot). Two of the most common reasons for veterans failing to maintain accommodation was mental health related or due to lack of support. The most common reasons for veteran and youth applications tended to be a non-violent dispute within the household or that they were asked to leave. Edinburgh has been identified as a hotspot for youth homelessness, with 47.4 youth homeless per 1000 population, with Glasgow City a close second (47.2). The Scottish government have yet to declare a plan prevent homelessness.
Meet the Team
“Hi, I’m Ella I’ve been a Marketing Lead at Landlord Broadband since February 2022 and I’m also a BSc Marketing student at the University of York. I’m really excited about gaining knowledge and experience at Landlord Broadband, creatively using data to develop effective marketing campaigns. In my spare time my interests are art, live music and running. I am also part of my university college’s netball team and the art society.”
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