Renters (Reform) Bill Second Reading

Renters (Reform) Bill Second Reading

The Renters (Reform) Bill has now completed its passage through the House of Commons. On 1 May 2024, the Bill was introduced in the House of Lords and Second Reading in the Lords will take place on 15 May 2024.

The Bill has been updated to reflect the changes made and agreed in the House of Commons.

View The Renters (Reform) Bill, as introduced in the House of Lords

It is fair to say that the Renters (Reform) Bill has been strengthened since it was first introduced. However, it still misses the mark in providing the right level of fairness and flexibility for landlords and tenants and improved competency standards for letting agents.

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Spring 2024 Budget

Spring 2024 Budget

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, last week, unveiled his Budget which contained various announcements that could have a direct impact on individuals who own property, including landlords and investors. The main property-related points have been outlined, but it is recommended that you consult your tax advisor to fully understand how these changes may affect you personally.

Reduction in Capital Gains Tax on residential property

From 6 April 2024 the higher rate of Capital Gains Tax for residential property sales will be cut from 28% to 24%, which will benefit owners of second homes and investment portfolios looking to sell. 

The lower rate will remain at 18% for any gains that fall within an individual’s basic rate band. Private Residence Relief will continue to apply, meaning the vast majority of residential property sales will incur no Capital Gains Tax.

We anticipate that this reduction in Capital Gains Tax rates will encourage some owners of second homes or property portfolios to liquidate their ‘surplus’ property assets, especially if they had already started planning to sell. This is likely to bring more properties back into the market but we don’t foresee that it will have a material impact on property prices.

Furnished Holiday Lettings tax

From 6 April 2025 tax relief for Furnished Holiday Lettings will be abolished and short-term and long-term rental properties will be treated the same for tax purposes.

This means that owners of holiday lets will no longer have the option to deduct the entire expense of their mortgage interest payments from their rental income. Additionally, they will not be eligible for capital allowances on furnishings, nor will they benefit from discounted capital gains tax rates upon sale, or Capital Gains Tax rollover relief.

This move has been designed by the Government to address concerns about the impact of short-term holiday lets on local communities, housing availability and rental prices in tourist hotspots such as London, where over 60,000 properties are currently being marketed as holiday lets. 

By removing tax benefits on these holiday lets, the Chancellor has purposefully created an environment that could encourage some landlords to sell their properties or revert back to more traditional long-term lettings, providing a boost for the housing market and overall supply. 

Although relatively unlikely, if there were to be an influx of new rental properties coming onto the market, rental prices would dip in the short to medium term, especially given the rising number of available rental properties already on the market at this time.

Multiple Dwellings Relief

From 1 June 2024, the government is abolishing Multiple Dwellings Relief, a bulk purchase relief in the Stamp Duty Land Tax regime.

Introduced in 2011, Multiple Dwellings Relief reduced the cost of stamp duty when investors bought more than one residential property as a single transaction or as linked transactions. Rather than calculate the stamp duty due on the total price being paid for all the properties, an average value is taken of all the properties involved. For example, if someone were to buy four buy-to-let properties for a combined sum of £2 million, the stamp duty due would be just £110,000 with Multiple Dwellings Relief compared to £211,250 without it.

In theory, the removal of Multiple Dwellings Relief represents a sizeable increase in transaction costs for investors. However, an external evaluation showed that there was no strong evidence the relief has met its original objective of supporting investment in the private rented sector. As a result we don’t foresee this greatly changing investor appetite.

New tax regime for non-doms
From April next year, the amount of time that foreign nationals (non-doms) can live in the UK and not have their overseas-generated income taxed under UK tax rules will be cut from 15 years to just 4. The Government is also consulting on moving Inheritance Tax from the current domicile-based system to a residency-based system. It is thought that overseas assets placed in trusts before April 6th 2025 will be exempt.

As this represents a significant change for non-doms, the Government has confirmed that a number of transitional arrangements will be made available which could present a short window of opportunity for non-doms who wish to bring funds to the UK to do so in a more efficient manner:

- Existing non-doms claiming the remittance basis will include an option to rebase the value of capital assets to 5 April 2019.

- There will be a temporary 50% exemption for the taxation of foreign income for the first year of the new regime (2025-26).

- The government will also offer a two-year Temporary Repatriation Facility for individuals who have paid tax on the remittance basis prior to 6 April 2025 to bring previously accrued foreign income and gains into the UK at a 12% rate of tax.

The proposed 1% mortgage deposit scheme
There was expectation in some quarters that a 1% mortgage deposit scheme may be introduced to help first-time buyers, however there was no mention of this in the Budget, meaning it is off the table for the time being.

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London's Prettiest Walk

London's Prettiest Walk

As the seasons change, grab your trainers, put on your coat and head out on a lovely walk in the capital.   London is a city of fast walkers, charging down the pavements, but it's nice to switch up the pace a bit. Head out for an urban stroll and you'll discover that this vast, sprawling city is full of surprising green spaces, winding alleyways, and canal trails that are itching to be explored.

Whether you’d like to dive into the past with a historical hoof around town, zone-out in an area of blissful nature or check out some of the city’s biggest attractions, there's an endless array of beautiful spots for a London walk.

Hampstead Heath Circular Walk (4.5 or 6.5 miles)

This self-guided circular walk explores the highlights of Hampstead Heath, one of London’s wildest and most precious green spaces. Climb Parliament Hill for panoramic views of the city’s skyline, pass by the bathing ponds (stop for a dip if you’re feeling brave) and admire the imposing white mansion Kenwood House. The walk takes you through some of the prettiest parts of Hampstead, too. Want to extend your walk? Visit Highgate Cemetery – atmospheric architecture surrounded by a peaceful wilderness that’s nowhere near as bleak as it sounds. Near Highgate Cemetery is a lesser-known green space called Waterlow Park. If it’s snowing, a visit to this 20-acre park is a must, as locals love using it for sledging. There are also three ponds for wildlife-spotting and gorgeous skyline views from the benches.

The Jubilee Greenway

The Jubilee Greenway is a 60km route created in 2012 for (as its name suggests) the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to mark her 60 years on the throne. The whopping loop offers 1 kilometre for each year of her reign. Well-sign-posted with glass paving slabs throughout, the walk’s ten sections cover much of the capital. The first section offers walkers a picturesque route between Buckingham Palace and the winding waterways of Maida Vale. You’ll head up Constitution Hill, through Hyde Park, past Kensington Palace and Paddington before ending up among the picturesque canals and boats of Little Venice. Continue the walk to Camden where you might find some tasty takeaway food options, or mooch to Warwick Avenue to head back to the city.

For other pretty walks in and around a glorious city, take a look at Time Out's guide here

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Landords Urge Chancellor to Scrap 'Additional Homes' Property Tax

Landords Urge Chancellor to Scrap 'Additional Homes' Property Tax

Ben Beadle at the NRLA says Jeremy Hunt must "pull out all the stops" and use his Budget to scrap the stamp duty levy on additional homes.

Landlords are urging Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (main picture) to give the PRS a major boost in the Budget.

The NRLA says Hunt should scrap the three per cent levy on additional homes, which would lead to 900,000 new rented properties becoming available.

And increasing the supply of homes for private rent would boost the Government’s coffers to the tune of £10 billion, the NRLA says.

SUPPLY CRISIS

The assessment follows the submission of NRLA’s proposals to the Government ahead of the Budget on 6 March, amidst a supply crisis in the rental market.

The NRLA uses analysis by Capital Economics which shows that scrapping would free up 900,000 additional rental properties, and increase tax receipts by £10 billion.

This is almost the equivalent of the entire £11.5 billion affordable homes budget for 2021-26.

SQUEEZE OUT

The Stamp Duty levy was introduced in 2016 by then Chancellor, George Osborne, who argued it would prevent landlords squeezing out families who want to become homeowners.

Research findings suggest that an average of 11 prospective tenants now make enquiries about every available property to rent.

Ben Beadle, CEO of the NRLA, says: “The Chancellor needs to pull out all the stops to tackle the housing crisis.

“Growing the private rented sector is not only vital if tenant demand is to be met, but it would also provide a substantial boost to Treasury coffers, enabling it to invest in vital public services,” he says.

“It makes no sense to discourage investment in desperately needed private rented accommodation. Inaction will only result in more misery for prospective renters.”

 

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What Does 2024 Have In Store

What Does 2024 Have In Store

Happy 2024! 

New year and, for some, new beginnings, and a change of address. What’s truly in store for 2024 is anyone’s guess, but some indicators suggest the following...

Housing Market

In the lead-up to Christmas, the UK housing market slowed down (as is usually the case). Fewer homes were put up for sale, leaving some buyers with fewer options and some sellers at an advantage. The rental market stayed competitive, with high demand but not enough properties, creating ongoing challenges. This data from the front line provides valuable insights for anyone looking to buy, rent or sell at the beginning of 2024!

Mortgage Market Trend

Recently, there's been a boost in the number of people looking for mortgages, and with the expectation of interest rates being cut further, more people may reconsider moving. If you're thinking about buying a house in 2024 then now might be a good time to explore your mortgage options.

Is Spring the Right Time to Sell?

If you're considering putting your home on the market in the coming months, it's time to start gathering up essential information that will help streamline your sale. If so, let’s hope you’re raring to go with what promises to be a fascinating year for the housing market. Interest rates are set to ease, tax cuts are rumoured for the spring and a General Election will happen sometime over the next 12 months. 2024 will be busy!

Discover how we can help you:

Call 020 7794 4821 

Email info@stellalange.co.uk

 



 

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Christmas in London 2023

Christmas in London 2023

Christmas in London 2023

London looks a whole lot prettier when it’s hung with strings of glistening lights and glittering Christmas trees and with the majority of London’s lights already illuminated, now is a great time to take a trip out to the gleaming streets that will flutter your heart.

Best of Christmas Lights

If you're after some gorgeous Christmas lights, Oxford Street is a great place to start. The busy shopping thoroughfare is bringing back its display of dangling stars which make a lovely impact in the night sky. Pretty magical looking, really.

Best Christmas Tree Display

Every year since 1947, Norway has gifted Londoners with a classic Norwegian spruce by way of thanking Britain for its support of Norway during the Second World War – and 2023 will be no different. Trafalgar square is already decked out with vertical strings of light, with a tree that towers over the surrounding buildings. It’s little wonder the bedazzling tree is fondly described by Norwegians as ‘the queen of the forest’.

Best Christmas Markets

Spitalfields Market has been transformed into the jolliest spot in the East End this festive season. Your browsing for stocking fillers will be lit by stunning lights and decorations, and you'll be sustained until that last gift is bought by delicious festive food and, of course, mulled wine. Late-night shopping so you can make the most of all the big brands and independent stalls is on programme, as are some fantastically festive pop-up theatre shows!

Cosiest Winter Pop-ups

Tis the season for some serious melted cheese action. And where better to indulge then Southbank, decked out in all its festive finery? Jimmy’s Lodge is a pop up restaurant on the Thames where you can stuff your face with fondue. If you're looking for a group get-together, then book an igloo in advance for a three-course menu, designed for parties up to 10. Or keep things more casual at the Raclette Bar next door, serving up gooey cheese galore and fine riverside views.

Best Places to Ice Skate

Spitalfields Market is about to transform into the jolliest spot in the East End this festive season. Your browsing for stocking fillers will be lit by stunning lights and decorations, and you'll be sustained until that last gift is bought by delicious festive food and, of course, mulled wine. Late-night shopping so you can make the most of all the big brands and independent stalls is on programme, as are some fantastically festive pop-up theatre shows!

There's no need to stay indoors and hibernate under a blanket. Suddenly, the city's full of endless festive things to do.  Check TimeOut regularly for a comprehensive round up of all the festive feels. 

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E-Bikes and E-Scooters - Important Safety Guidance

E-Bikes and E-Scooters - Important Safety Guidance

E-bikes and e-scooters are becoming increasingly popular, thanks to their convenience and eco-friendliness. Most are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which can be charged in the home. The use of these batteries in a wide range of household products is becoming increasingly common.

It is important, when charging e-bikes and e-scooters, you do so safely to avoid a risk of a fire starting and putting your families and homes at risk.

With an increased use of e-bikes and e-scooters, comes a corresponding fire safety concern associated with their charging and storage. The use of these products is expected to continue to rise. Some fire services and fire investigators have seen a rise in e-bike and e-scooter battery fires.  On occasions, batteries can fail catastrophically, they can ‘explode’ and/or lead to a rapidly developing fire.

The incorrect disposal of lithium-ion batteries in general household and recycling waste can lead to significant waste fires.  

It is essential to understand how to reduce these risks and keep homes and businesses safe. Here's our guide to reducing fire risks when charging and storing e-bikes and e-scooters.


 

Charging

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when charging, and always unplug your charger when it’s finished charging.
  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms. If you charge or store your e-bike or e-scooter in a garage or kitchen ensure you install detection, we recommend heat alarms rather than smoke detectors for these areas.
  • Charge batteries whilst you are awake and alert so if a fire should occur you can respond quickly. Don’t leave batteries to charge while you are asleep or away from the home.
  • Always use the manufacturer approved charger for the product, and if you spot any signs of wear and tear or damage, buy an official replacement charger for your product from a reputable seller.
  • Do not cover chargers or battery packs when charging, as this could lead to overheating or even a fire.
  • Do not charge batteries or store your e-bike or e-scooter near combustible or flammable materials.
  • Do not overcharge your battery – check the manufacturer’s instructions for charge times.
  • Do not overload socket outlets or use inappropriate extension leads (use uncoiled extensions and ensure the lead is suitably rated for what you are plugging in to it).
  • In the event of an e-bike, e-scooter or lithium-ion battery fire – do not attempt to extinguish the fire. Get out, stay out, call 999.

Storage

  • Avoid storing or charging e-bikes and e-scooters on escape routes or in communal areas of a multi occupied building. If there’s a fire, it can affect people’s ability to escape.
  • Responsible Persons should consider the risks posed by e-bikes and e-scooters where they are charged or left in common areas such as means of escape, bike stores and mobility scooter charging rooms. They may wish to offer advice to residents on the safe use, storage and charging of these products.
  • Store e-bikes and e-scooters and their batteries in a cool place. Avoid storing them in excessively hot or cold areas.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for the storage and maintenance of lithium -ion batteries if they are not going to be used for extended periods of time.

Buying

  • Buy e-bikes, e-scooters and chargers and batteries from reputable retailers.
  • Many fires involve counterfeit electrical goods. Items which don’t meet British or European standards pose a huge fire risk and while genuine chargers (or battery packs) may cost more, it’s not worth putting your life at risk and potentially destroying your home by buying a fake charger to save a few pounds.
  • If buying an e-bike conversion kit, purchase from a reputable seller and check that it complies with British or European standards. Take particular care if buying from online auction or fulfilment platforms. Also be aware that if buying separate components, you should check that they are compatible.
  • Register your product with the manufacturer to validate any warranties – batteries are usually included in warranties. Registering makes it easier for manufacturers to contact you in the event of safety or recall information.
  • Check any products you have bought are not subject to a product recall. You can do this but checking Electrical Safety First’s website or the government website.

Damage and disposal

  • Batteries can be damaged by dropping them or crashing e-bikes or e-scooters. Where the battery is damaged, it can overheat and catch fire without warning. Check your battery regularly for any signs of damage and if you suspect it is damaged it should be replaced and should not be used or charged.
  • If you need to dispose of a damaged or end of life battery, don’t dispose of it in your household waste or normal recycling. These batteries, when punctured or crushed, can cause fires in bin lorries, recycling and waste centres. Your e- bike or e- scooter manufacturer may offer a recycling service. Alternatively, check with your local authority for suitable battery recycling arrangements in your area.

We hope that the above information is of use to you. Enjoy and ride your e-bike or e-scooter safely and ensure you are using these products correctly. Further information can be found here https://www.gov.uk/electric-bike-rules and for e-scooters

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Tips To Look After Your Home This Winter

Tips To Look After Your Home This Winter

As we approach the winter months, the changing weather conditions can cause damage to your home. 

With heating and hot water accounting for over half of the average household’s energy bills, it’s important to know what we can do to prepare our heating system for the colder months and save money on your energy bills. 

Find out the simple steps we can take to prepare our heating system for winter.

Reduce your boiler flow temperature to save up to £60 a year

If you have a Combi boiler, its efficiency can be improved by adjusting the ‘flow temperature’ dial/setting to 60 degrees.

Reducing flow temperature isn’t the same as turning down the thermostat. It won’t noticeably reduce the temperature of your home but may take longer to heat up.

Bleed your radiators

Bleeding radiators makes your home warmer and can help reduce the cost of your energy bills. It does this by removing air pockets which reduce the pressure in your radiator so you don’t need to turn the heating up as much.

Get your boiler serviced

An annual service helps keep your boiler running safely. Faulty boilers can be very dangerous. During your boiler service, a Gas Safe registered engineer checks for leaks and issues and they will ensure that your boiler is running properly, which can save you money on future repairs.

Reduce your hot water tank temperature to 60°C to save up to £20 per year

If you have a heating system with a separate hot water cylinder (instead of a combi boiler), you can turn down the temperature of the cylinder itself so that water is not heated unnecessarily.

Install a smart meter to help you see what you’re spending

A smart meter provides you with near real-time information about how much energy you are using via an in-home display, which you can use to track your spending and have greater control over your usage. Smart meters provide automatic readings to your energy supplier, meaning an end to estimated bills and enabling easier budgeting.  Contact your energy supplier, who can arrange to install a smart meter free of charge.

Find and fix draughts to save up to £50 a year

Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective actions you can take to stop or prevent heat escaping and reduce your energy bills. Block unwanted gaps around windows, doors, chimneys and floors that let the cold air in and warm air out. 

Insulate your hot water cylinder to save up to £50 a year

If you have a hot water tank, you can invest in a hot water cylinder jacket, available in most hardware shops and online. It reduces the amount of heat the cylinder loses and keeps water hot for longer, making them more efficient and cheaper to use.

For further information, please check the government website 

 

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Renters’ Reform Bill Passes Second Reading

Renters’ Reform Bill Passes Second Reading

MPs have given the Renters Reform Bill its Second Reading - a procedure which means it now continues into the Committee Stage, at which it will undergo line-by-line scrutiny.

No vote was taken, as is common at the end of this stage of parliamentary business.

Opening the debate Housing Secretary Michael Gove repeatedly spoke of the need to balance the needs of tenants and landlords in the progress of the Bill; he acknowledged issues with the existing Bill for the student market and committed to regulating student housing appropriately. 

The role of the justice system was central to the debate and several responses reiterated the need to make the courts fit for purpose before Section 21 is abolished - a point the Housing Secretary made over the weekend in a letter to the Select Committee on Housing. 

However, he repeated the government was committed to the removal of Section 21  to prevent bad landlords from intimidating tenants, silencing those complaining about poor standards of housing and the need for repairs. 

Alongside this there was a commitment to strengthening provisions under Section 8 to reliably regain possession where necessary, lowering the threshold to prove anti-social behaviour and tackling unscrupulous tenants who abuse provisions to protect the vulnerable.

Labour has made it clear it will be pushing for measures that go beyond those already in the Bill, particularly on an expansion of rent repayment orders; amending possession grounds to protect tenants against ‘no fault’ evictions; and the outlawing of blanket bans on landlords accepting tenants with children or who are in receipt of benefits.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - now an independent MP - called for rent controls and strengthening of some provisions in the Bill; these were rejected by Michael Gove. 

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, says: "It is clear that more needs to be done to get the balance right for landlords, agents and tenants. Outstanding questions need to be answered about the role of a reformed judicial system.

"The UK Government have failed to take seriously the potential impact and the unintended consequences of the removal of Section 21 and the impact this could have on landlords exiting the market, which will do nothing to tackle the demand crisis in the private rented sector. It is important that the details are published and shared.

“The UK Government has listened to the concerns of our members with the need for special requirements for the student market, which is welcome, and many MPs outlined how the Bill can be strengthened through a review and reversal of recent tax changes, raising the Local Housing Allowance and local authority capacity to enforce legislation – issues that Propertymark has consistently raised.

“Propertymark will engage further at Committee Stage to ensure the Bill is evidence based and the role of property agents is incorporated fairly within the introduction of a new Ombudsman for landlords, and agents can play a full role in increasing property standards.” 

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Halloween 2023 in London

Halloween 2023 in London

The best Halloween events in London

Frighten yourself silly with our pick of terrifyingly good Halloween events and activities in London 2023.

Halloween falls on Tuesday October 31 2023, and while Tuesday nights don’t always lend themselves to spooky, spine-chilling fun, you can always count on the capital to provide you with the biggest, baddest events for the occasion. 

There’s plenty of fright-filled fun to be had throughout October, whether you want to watch horror films on the big screen, join a lantern-lit ghost tour, learn about London’s graveyards, carve pumpkins, or let your synthetic wigs down over themed cocktails.

So when you’re after something strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call? Time Out London, that’s who! We might not be so great at ghost-busting, but we’ve got everything else covered this ‘scary szn’ with our whopper list of the very best Halloween events in London for 2023. 

Here's 10 of the best, handpicked by Time Out London

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