So far, 2020 has seen house prices well above the threshold of affordability for most buyers, but low mortgage rates have injected a vaccine against sticker shock.
Any number of hypothesis would be at play if it weren’t for one thing: a shortage of available properties. Add the uncertainty of upcoming free trade negotiations, economic doubt, political uncertainty…and the entire market will spend much of 2020 waiting with bated breath.
With all that circulating ambiguity, one thing’s for sure: property owners, particularly those who have bought-to-let, are in an advantageous position. Demand is up; that means rental rates are, too. The number of homes for sale is down; that means more buyers will now be renters.
It sounds like a landlord’s dream, really. And it can be, as long as property owners and managers are up to date with the changes in store for them in 2020 and beyond. Knowing what’s new will keep them competitive, in compliance, and profitable.
Technological advancements to bring property industry into this century
The property industry is feeling technological expansion with even greater intensity than most. That’s because for decades, it has been isolated from technology. Property managers have been using pen-and-paper and telephones while other industries are experiencing time- and money-saving connectivity.
It’s called PropTech, and 2020 is the year when multi-unit landlords jump on this technological movement…or risk being left behind.
PropTech connects the property manager with the owner, tenants, contractors and letting agents. It maintains documents, integrates with other apps and software, and makes functions like bookkeeping, rent collection, gathering leads and service order tracking simpler than ever.
In 2020, I predict that more tenants and contractors are going to expect the speed and ease that come with PropTech, which will quickly change the way they evaluate their housing options.
Legislative changes and how they will affect the industry
In less than a year’s time, the property industry has seen plenty of changes, including the Fitness for Habitation Act, Client Money Protection and the Tenant Fees Act.
And it seems that there’s no slowdown predicted for new legislation and modifications to existing legislation.
If the Labour party had won the recent election, landlords may have been subject to offering open-ended tenancies, raising minimum property standards (with rental reimbursement and fines of up to £100,000), the empowerment of renters through tenants’ unions, Help to Buy plans, new licensing requirements, the elimination of the capital gains allowance, and rent caps.
The property industry can most likely expect the elimination of Section 21 (which essentially states that landlords can evict without having to give reason, as long as they give tenants two months’ notice). After that, Section 8 will be a landlord’s go-to, which is only enforceable when the tenant breaks the lease.
The Tories have also proposed lifetime deposit legislation. That means instead of tenants having to raise a deposit every time they move, the deposit would transfer from property to property.
Also beginning this year, mortgage interest will no longer be deductible (it’s being replaced with a 20% tax credit for rental receipts). Properties with energy efficiency ratings of F- or G- will be unlettable and property owners who have changed their primary residences to rental properties can only claim capital gains relief for nine months (as opposed to the previous allowance of 18 months), starting this April.
2020: a pivotal year for the property industry
Housing is on the move, thanks to advancements in PropTech, new legislation and market trends. Now that the election has passed, we can feel a bit more certain about how the property industry will be affected; however, there are still many variables at play.
Landlords should stay on top of hairpin turns in the market by ensuring they’re current in every aspect—from regulations to technology to housing demand—because despite recent developments, the entire industry is about to see a noticeable increase in competition.
Will you be ready?
*Rochelle Trup is Chief Financial Officer at Arthur Online