Pay your rent on time – and boost your credit rating!

 

Do you always pay your rent on time? If so, your on-time payments could soon improve your credit rating in exactly the same way that homeowners benefit by keeping up their mortgage payments.

The Cindexreditworthiness Assessment Bill, which is now going through Parliament, will enshrine this in law. The Bill requires certain matters to be taken into account when assessing a borrower’s creditworthiness and once enacted – hopefully in 2019 – for the first time, credit providers will have to include your rental and council tax payment history when calculating your credit score. At the moment, timely rental payments aren’t necessarily reflected in people’s credit reports but – hopefully – this is all about to change. The Bill, which was put forward by Big Issue founder Lord Bird, has cross-party backing in the House of Commons and had its second reading in October.

And the change won’t only work in tenants’ favour – it will be good news for landlords too. The Residential Landlords Association says 61% of landlords support the move; it believes including rent payments in your credit rating in this way will also make it easier for landlords to make a more accurate assessment of a prospective tenant’s credit and rent payment history. In turn that would make it more straightforward for people with a good credit record to find rental property quickly and easily.

This bill is long, long overdue. With rental and/or mortgage payments being the largest and arguably most important outgoing for UK households, it has always been unfair to tenants that they have been denied the ability to have their ‘rent worthiness’ to be taken into account.

Latest estimates show that around 5.4 million UK households rent, so once this legislation is enacted it stands to make a big difference to many people’s lives whether they wish to prove their credit worthiness to a prospective landlord, buy a new car or take out a bank loan. It will open up fairer access to more affordable credit to a wider pool of responsible borrowers and prevent people from falling into the high-cost-credit poverty trap.

Your Move’s Landlord Survey, which recently polled 1,071 landlords and tenants to learn more about their portfolios, behaviours and attitudes towards tenants, agents and the lettings market, shows that landlords vote trustworthiness as the most important quality in tenants. Just over a quarter (26%) of landlords’ surveyed rate tenants who pay on time as the most important consideration.

PlanetRent created by the Ringley Group will soon be making rent worthiness data available to support tenants and landlords alike.  PlanetRent is lettings automated – for landlords who want paperless deals, advertising, landlord websites, compliance sorted, protection from fines and the whole audit trail completely taken care of.  To find out more go to PlanetRent.co.uk

 

 

Good news for the NIMBYs?

 

Let’s face it, most of us are NIMBYs at heart. We know we need more housing and we know we should welcome housebuilding in our back yard but dislike the ‘sameness’ look of the new housing that is seemingly springing up everywhere.  In cities these days it’s all about high density build-to-rent blocks and out of town, from Bognor to Berwick-on-Tweed, we are faced with housing schemes that all look, well, pretty similar really.

For years now it seems as if new housing has simply been a numbers game. In the rush for local authorities to prove they are doing their bit to deliver new homes to meet the promises of their local plans, quality and design often seem to be the last consideration.  Early prototypes of modular houses similarly seem to have missed the opportunity to enable homes to have their exteriors dressed creatively.  Yes we live indoors, but is not the principle of the UK planning system that the community owns the streetscape?

We are pleased to see that at last someone appears to be listening to the concerns of communities around the country, which are often resistant to new build housing. This week, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire launched a commission to promote better design in the new build sector. This aims to put forward practical measures to make sure that new developments meet the needs and expectations of communities, so housebuilding is more likely to be welcomed than resisted.  We feel this commission can only lead to better quality stock, less local resistance, more homes built faster.  A win-win all round.

The revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) includes measures to strengthen design quality and community engagement, with the character of the area to be given more consideration.

As The Planner revealed this week, the ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ Commission will expand on the ways the planning system can encourage and incentivise a greater emphasis on design, style and community consent. It has three aims:

  • To promote better design and style of homes, villages, towns and high streets, to reflect what communities want, building on the knowledge and tradition of what they know works for their area.
  • To explore how new settlements can be developed with greater community consent.
  • To make the planning system work in support of better design and style, not against it.

The minister rightly says that many people feel new homes in their area aren’t up to scratch. “Part of making the housing market work for everyone is helping to ensure that what we build is built to last. That it respects the integrity of our existing towns, villages and cities,” he said.

We certainly welcome the prospect of kick-starting a debate about the importance of design and style, and if the intention is to launch a consultation on the back of what the commission comes up with, we are keen to contribute to the discussion.

But – and it’s a big but – none of this will go any way towards improving the housing situation in the country if our already underfunded and under-resourced planning departments are given even more hoops to jump through before they can give schemes the go-ahead. Developers, housebuilders and – arguably most important – architects, all have to be on board to ensure that schemes are build-ready and will gain the consent of local planning offices and the communities they serve. As the minister says, new housing should help “grow a sense of place, not undermine it”.

 

Stamp duty abolished for some first time buyers – and rates relief for retail

 

Yesterday’s Budget speech didn’t include many dramatic new measures to boost the property sector  but we certainly welcome the Chancellor’s first time buyers’ stamp duty abolition on shared ownership homes valued at up to £500,000. This is a good way to get normal working families into secure accommodation as an alternative to rent.  With the huge increase in numbers of homes for sale and/or part ownership developed by housing associations we see HAs very much as the developers of the future. With a red tape, tick-box-based planning system and some developers guilty of land banking sites to maintain prices – stimulus for social housing must be the answer to the housing crisis.

With the London property market cooling we also welcome the extension of the government’s ‘help to buy’ initiative, which supports many developers and ensures that UK purchasers can buy  UK property – without that ability there is a serious risk of the remote or overseas landlord problem getting out of control.  It is absolutely vital that we don’t alienate young buyers by pushing them out of our cities in favour of yields-driven landlords who overcrowd properties that were originally designed as family homes.   The good news for renters and sharers is that increasingly there are quality, purposefully designed build-to-rent homes coming onto the market in pure rent environments.  But accidental landlords – those who, say, rent out their batchelor pad  – got no comfort yesterday as tax relief and claimable allowances continue to be phased out.

We hope that the promised £400M for schools will be in part directed into ‘fit for work’ measures. On a day-to-day basis at Ringley we remain challenged by the lack of employability skills in many of the youngsters we support. We estimate the employer burden on filling those gaps is costing us up to £3,500 per employee.

Having been an Ambassador for Apprenticeships from the start, we welcome the £695M to develop apprenticeships.  However, we remain concerned and are working with training providers on a number of challenges, in particular the fact that we cannot truly offer to take apprentices through to degree level in some disciplines such as IT and that, for example, IT apprenticeships often reflect old technologies and need updating fast.

The budget did provide much-needed help for the retail property sector. Landlords of our beleaguered high streets and retail centres should be able to hold their rents and reduce the uncertainty of void units with the announcement that rates for small business are to be cut by 1/3rd over the next two years. This is a much needed reduction and some relief from the pressures of a changing landscape and digitalisation, which falls particularly unequally on break-even small businesses.  Not sure we are ready to open our lavatories to the entire general public quite yet though!

We hope that the money local councils will receive to revive their high streets will inspire creative thinking as the reason for having a town centre continues to shift.    More on that soon…..

 

 

 

 

Keep it clean… don’t lose your deposit

 

Are you in danger of losing all or part of your deposit when you leave your flat? If you want to make sure you get all your money back, making sure you leave the property clean and in a good state of repair is a good place to start. And don’t underestimate the importance of replacing items listed on the inventory. Some landlords are prepared to be more forgiving than others, but if you only leave one glass in the cupboard or break/damage a major item, such as a kitchen appliance it makes sense to own up fast and buy a replacement or offer to pay for a repair. Don’t leave it until you move out. It is easy to cause bad feeling if you create problems for your landlord who will be hoping to re-let as quickly as possible.

According to the Deposit Protection Service, cleaning is the most common cause of a tenancy deposit dispute in the rental sector, with 63% of landlords saying tenants leaving properties dirty was among their reasons for a claim. Damage caused by tenants is the second most common cause of disputes at 53%, followed by the need to redecorate (37%), and tenants being in rent arrears (23%) at the end of a tenancy. Other issues raised by landlords include gardening (16%), replacing missing items (16%) and outstanding bills (4%).

Students are the worst culprits, with almost a quarter losing part or all of part of their rental deposit when they left their accommodation at the end of the last academic year.

Ringley has contracts with a wide range of cleaning companies and maintenance contractors. If you are nearing the end of your tenancy and are worried that you may be leaving your flat in a poor condition or in need of repair, talk to us before you end up in a dispute. Your landlord is our client too and we may be able to help. The cost may not be as much as you think. It’s worth making that call if it could make the difference between getting your deposit back or losing your money.