Balancing commercial and residential developments is key to keeping town centres alive post-pandemic

Balancing commercial and residential developments is key to keeping town centres alive post-pandemic

United Kingdom
  • Just 29% of high street addresses are retailers (Office for National Statistics)
  • 1 in 12 shops closed in 5 years to 2018 (Ordnance Survey)
  • Blending retail units with new homes is key to city centre survival (Fabrik Invest)

Property investment specialists Fabrik Invest have spoken out about the importance of balancing residential development in city centres with commercial premises in the post-pandemic world. City centres have been hit incredibly hard not only by successive lockdowns but also by the reduced footfall resulting from a far higher incidence of home working throughout the pandemic. According to Fabrik Invest, this puts an onus on developers and investors to take an active role in keeping urban centres alive.

“Our town and city centres were already struggling when the pandemic struck, with one in 12 shops closing in the five years to 2018. Yet town centres do so much to help communities connect. That’s something that has become infinitely more valuable as a result of the prolonged isolation of the pandemic. Developers have plenty of scope to help nurture our towns’ and cities’ growth and this needs to be a key focus moving forward.”

Steve Jacob, CEO, Fabrik Invest

By March 2020, just 29% of high street addresses were retailers. Squeezed salaries and the shift to online shopping have been two of the key reasons behind this, both of which have been significantly exacerbated by the pandemic. The closure of offices and the shift to students studying online has intensified the problem, due to the huge drop in the number of those passing through town and city centres. For retail units, footfall is everything

People’s changing preferences have also had an impact on town centres in recent years. While the pandemic has served to push people towards country living, that followed a boom in demand for city centre homes, which is likely to pick up once more as the vaccine roll-out continues and we look forward to a post-pandemic return to relatively normal life.

“People increasingly want everything on their doorsteps – to live within walking distance of excellent restaurants, a selection of shops and the best leisure facilities available. The relaxation of planning laws meant that many old office spaces could be converted into residential buildings, but we need to balance that with keeping commercial premises in urban centres too, as those are a key part of the reason that people want to live centrally.”

Steve Jacob, CEO, Fabrik Invest

The planning law relaxation allowed people with B1 office space to convert it into residential accommodation without the need for a full planning application, provided they stuck to national framework guidelines. The move led to a lot of unused office space being turned into homes and continues to do so to this day. Fabrik Invest regularly offers such developments for investment.

Bishopgate Gardens in Preston is a prime example of this. The office block, which had stood vacant since early 2019, is being converted into 130 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, with shared social spaces including a stylish lounge area, coffee pod café, shared working space, reception area with 24/7 concierge and show-stopping rooftop gardens on the eighth and eleventh floors.

Bishopgate Gardens will also be home to seven retail units on the ground floor, including a deli, barbers, beauticians and florist. Budding entrepreneurs to take over the high-spec shops, which face onto the development’s impressive plaza, are currently being sought.

“With commercial to residential conversions, there’s often plenty of scope for developers to provide retail space on the ground floor. This will be key to the long-term survival of our town and city centres as places where individuals can connect with local businesses and with the wider community. In the post-pandemic era, this will be more important than ever in keeping the commercial heart of our cities alive.”

Steve Jacob, CEO, Fabrik Invest

For more information, please contact Fabrik Invest on 020 8175 9891 or enquiries@fabrikinvest.com, or visit www.fabrikinvest.com

Domestic student demand for rental guarantor services up 12%, reports Housing Hand

Domestic student demand for rental guarantor services up 12%, reports Housing Hand

United Kingdom
  • 30% of students housed in private rented accommodation (HESA)
  • Non-EU student enrolments up 59,000 (2019/20)
  • Student accommodation sector needs to expand while remaining affordable

It’s been an interesting couple of years for the UK in terms of its international student numbers. The government’s International Education Strategy has a target of hosting 600,000 international students by 2030, despite the current complexities of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. Hitting the target would mean the industry’s economic impact reaching £35bn annually, making it an attractive aim.

The 2019/20 academic year was certainly a good one for non-EU student numbers, with enrolments shooting up by 59,000 students, taking non-EU total enrolments to 556,625.

So, what does this mean for pressure on student accommodation? UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has been working with both domestic and international students since 2013, helping them to secure accommodation in their university town or city by acting as their guarantor. The market has changed a great deal since then, with a major boom in Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), although figures from Glenigan show that planning consents for such properties have dropped every year since 2017.

Nor are PBSA homes suited to all students. Many prefer to live in halls, while figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that around 30% of students opt for private rented accommodation.

The UK has an interesting spread of student accommodation, with some university cities suffering from a deficit of suitable homes and others a sizeable glut. The fluctuations in student movement patterns that the pandemic has created is further complicating this picture. However, the long-term view is a positive one for student numbers, particularly those from overseas. This means that the accommodation sector needs to prepare to house increasing numbers of talented young people over the years ahead and to do so in an affordable way.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

Affordability is a key concern for many students and especially so for those without a rental guarantor. At a time when many parents and guardians have been furloughed, have lost their jobs or face the prospect of losing their jobs, signing up to guarantee a child’s rent becomes a far more dauting prospect.

This is one of the reasons that Housing Hand has seen such a sharp rise in the number of domestic students using its services. Between November 2019 and November 2020, demand from UK students increased by 12%. While international student numbers dropped over the same period, in line with trends across the sector as a whole, the long-term prospects remain bright.

“International demand for university education in the UK has necessarily been curbed by the pandemic and its associated travel restrictions but the longer-term outlook is one of growing demand. We need to ensure that appropriate accommodation is in place, therefore, for the growing body of students that the UK will be housing. That includes an emphasis on affordability, to ensure that young people can focus on their studies, rather than having to find several months’ rent upfront because they don’t have a guarantor.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

For more information please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Pandemic drives changes in landlord behaviour/buying patterns

Pandemic drives changes in landlord behaviour/buying patterns

United Kingdom
  • Investors increasingly seeking additional bedrooms and on-site co-working spaces
  • Outdoor space to remain at a premium over the longer term
  • City homes in particular being scrutinised by landlords looking for ideal amenities

Property investment company Fabrik Invest is reporting longer-term changes in landlord behaviour and requirements, as the continuing impact of the pandemic is felt across the UK’s private rented sector.

“There’s still plenty of interest from investors looking to become landlords. Indeed, the Bank of England putting banks on notice to prepare for negative interest rates in the next six months is doing much to fuel a shift of liquid assets into bricks and mortar. Many of our investors are already moving to do this. What’s interesting is the sustained shift in the types of property that they are seeking.”

Dale Anderson, Managing Director, Fabrik Invest

This shift in demand has put a spotlight on properties such as Bishopgate Gardens in Preston. Priced from £120,000 and due for completion in September this year, Bishopgate Gardens’ 130 apartments have been designed to deliver an exceptional living experience. Residents of the one, two and three-bedroom homes will have access to a shared working space (‘The Common’) and on-site coffee pod café, as well as a stylish lounge area and reception with 24/7 concierge. The show-stopping rooftop gardens on the eighth and eleventh floors, meanwhile, more than tick the oh-so-important outdoor space box.

It is the shared working space, as well as the outdoor areas, which Fabrik Invest has found that investors are increasingly focused on. Home-based working has flourished of necessity during the pandemic, but over the longer term it will continue out of choice for many.

“The increase in home working is driving interest in on-site co-working spaces like never before and it’s not stopping there. Many investors are now looking to put their cash into properties with an additional bedroom that can be used as an office. Landlords are adapting their behaviours and approach to the new normal.”

Dale Anderson, Managing Director, Fabrik Invest

It is city centre homes in particular that landlords are scrutinising through a new Covid-lens. People aren’t using city centres in the same way they used to. Many behaviours are expected to return to normal as the vaccine rollout reaches the masses. However, the fact that Covid-19 may well move from pandemic to endemic in the human population means that some changes will be for good. This means, according to the Fabrik Invest team’s experience, that landlords are hedging their bets by investing in homes with on-site facilities that make localized living easy. In Preston, Bishopgate Gardens’ seven ground floor retail units are a case in point, with residents enjoying easy access to a barber, hair salon, beauty shop and grocery store, among others.

Location-wise, it’s all eyes on the North West. Savills’ latest mainstream residential market forecast pegs the North West as leading the UK for house price growth over the next five years, projecting growth of 27.3% for the region (compared to 20.4% for the UK as a whole). This is already unfolding, looking at recent figures. Zoopla’s latest House Price Index shows that the highest house price growth since April 2017 is being led by northern cities, with Liverpool house prices climbing by 6.3% over the past year, followed by those in Manchester at 6%. But that’s not to say that landlords are looking in precisely the same locations within these cities that they were pre-pandemic, according to Fabrik Invest.

“In big cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester, we are seeing investors looking at areas further out, such as the home counties and commuter belt towns for London. Kent is a good example of this – it has the good transport connections for those who need to commute into London, as well as plentiful green space and more affordable prices than the capital. In Manchester, it is Salford Quays that is turning heads. Tenant demand is strong there and investors are racing to meet that demand.”

Dale Anderson, Managing Director, Fabrik Invest

As 2021 unfolds, all eyes will be on the UK housing market to see what happens after the stamp duty holiday ends. Ultimately, though, the country has a sustained imbalance between its supply of rental homes and the demand for those homes. With the prospect of negative interest rates also coming into play, demand from investors doesn’t look to be dropping off any time soon.

For more information, please contact Fabrik Invest on 020 8175 9891 or enquiries@fabrikinvest.com, or visit www.fabrikinvest.com

Housing Hand warns of increasing unsustainability of using landlords to support non-paying tenants

Housing Hand warns of increasing unsustainability of using landlords to support non-paying tenants

United Kingdom
  • 700,000 tenants and landlords could be dealing with rent arrears by end of 2021 (LSE London/Trust for London)
  • Eviction ban well intended but fails to protect increasingly desperate landlords and letting agents
  • Clock is ticking for government to step in

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand is speaking out on behalf of landlords who are suffering at the hands of the government’s eviction ban. The legislation has been designed to protect tenants who have suffered financial loss as a result of the Covid pandemic. However, in so doing, it is creating an increasingly difficult situation for many landlords. Some are facing not just losing their investment properties but their homes as well.

The intentions of the eviction ban to protect individual tenants are excellent, but the situation unfortunately doesn’t take all those involved in the rental transaction into account. The financial impact of tenants who can’t afford to pay on landlords is devastating.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

The clock is certainly ticking. According to research by LSE London and Trust for London, the number of private tenants in rent arrears in England could treble in the coming year. That could mean as many as 700,000 tenants – and their landlords – in financial difficulty.

Housing Hand points out that letting agents, too, are suffering Letting agents receive a percentage of a property’s rent as a management fee, but 15% of £0 is £0. This means that there is a limit to how long agents, as well as landlords, can continue to operate with a reduced income. Client Money Protect reported at the end of 2020 that lettings agencies were closing at a rate of ten per week. Housing Hand believes that around 4% of all letting agencies closed their doors for good during the year.

The eviction ban is currently due to run until 21 February but has the potential to be extended in line with continuing lockdown restrictions. Such a move would mean that landlords, and the letting agents whose businesses they support, could face further weeks or even months of financial struggle. For those with mortgage payments to cover, the situation is increasingly unsustainable.

“The government must stop using private landlords to house tenants who are unable or unwilling to pay their rent. These are difficult times for all concerned and a new solution is needed – one that supports all those involved in the rental sector.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

The situation highlights the value of professional rental guarantor services, which guarantee landlords will receive their rental payments, even when tenants cannot afford to pay. Housing Hand has covered £587,626,099 in rent to date, working with over 3,000 accommodation providers.

“Those without a guarantor company in place are likely to see landlords increasingly turning to their personal guarantors for payment over the difficult months ahead. It’s a role that parents often fulfil, but how many of those acting as guarantors are also finding that their income has been reduced or lost entirely? The government needs to do more to step in and prop up the private rented sector in these truly exceptional times.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

For more information, please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Hold on tight to the UK rental sector roller-coaster

Hold on tight to the UK rental sector roller-coaster

United Kingdom
  • Housing Hand’s figures highlight notable shifts in student rental market
  • Furloughed/unemployed parents turning to rental guarantor services for their offspring
  • Housing Hand records surprising 8% jump in international working professionals
  • Figures point to continuing volatility of private rented sector

Newly released data from UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has highlighted the volatility currently being experienced across the UK’s private rented sector. The company acts as a rental guarantor for students and working professionals and has seen significant shifts in demand for its services over the period from November 2019 to November 2020.

Demand for rental guarantor services for students was notable for a number of reasons. While there was an overall increase in the number of students that Housing Hand guaranteed over the period, there was a drop-off in international students.

The fall in demand from international students aligns with wider data trends across the industry. Between travel restrictions, lockdowns, a shift to online learning and Brexit, international appetite for UK higher education has been impacted significantly. This is why we’re seeing such low occupancy rates in London for purpose-built student accommodation right now. It will be interesting to see the impact that all of this will have on the January intake.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

Student rent strikes across the UK are also feeding into this volatility. However, despite the unrest, Housing Hand recorded a 12% increase in the number of UK students using its service. The lower grade boundaries offered by universities following the UK’s A Level grading controversy in August 2020 has played a part in this.

It’s also likely that many parents and guardians who are currently on furlough or unemployed are now turning to Housing Hand to secure their properties. Even those still currently in employment may wish to avoid acting as guarantors themselves, in case that situation suddenly changes.

Nor is it just the student part of the private rented sector that is experiencing shifts in renter patterns. Housing Hand recorded a surprise increase of 8% in the number of international working professionals that it guaranteed between 2019 and 2020, despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The growth in demand for rental guarantor services by working professionals from overseas flies in the face of what we were expecting to see. It highlights the continuing diversity of the UK workforce, despite the wider political, economic and medical situation. During 2021, hopefully this will continue; however, the first three weeks of the year have shown a slow start, so watch this space.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Even with mass vaccination underway, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to be felt across much of the UK’s private rented sector over the course of 2021. Economic uncertainty means that many of those in the UK are seeking the reassurance that a professional guarantor service provides, rather than the risks associated with a parental guarantor.

“From a landlord’s perspective, rental guarantor services mitigate the increased risk that is now associated with parental guarantors. Just as many renters may be facing personal economic uncertainty, so too are their parents. This is why professional guarantor solutions are so prized by landlords and letting agents right now.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

For more information please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Buy-to-let 2021 – what will Covid and Brexit mean for the market?

Buy-to-let 2021 – what will Covid and Brexit mean for the market?

United Kingdom
  • Fabrik Invest looks at the likely effect of Covid and Brexit on the buy-to-let market
  • 41,700 buy-to-let companies set up in 2020 (Hamptons)
  • Bank of England looking into potential of history-making negative interest rate

2021 is shaping up to be a big year of the UK buy-to-let sector. Huge, in fact. Hamptons has just reported a record number of new limited companies incorporated in 2020 with the specific purpose of holding buy-to-let properties. 41,700 such companies were incorporated in 2020, meaning that the number of them has doubled since 2016, when the government began ramping up the tax burden faced by buy-to-let investors.

So, will Covid and Brexit combine to finally dent interest in UK buy-to-let investments, when even the prospect of paying more tax hasn’t deterred investors? Unlikely, says Dale Anderson, Managing Director of Fabrik Invest.

“The UK remains a promising and active market for fully managed buy-to-let properties. The country has a fundamental lack of supply and that’s unlikely to change; we simply can’t build homes fast enough. For overseas investors, Brexit actually presents potential for savings, as currency exchange rates fluctuate. Add to that the fact that Covid is bringing about opportunities such as discounted deals and suddenly 2021 is shaping up to be a huge year for the buy-to-let sector.”

Dale Anderson, Managing Director, Fabrik Invest

Fabrik Invest flags up buyers from the Middle East, Hong Kong and South Africa in particular when it comes to key investor demographics overseas this year. The company also points to the impact of interest rates and fiscal policy on the 2021 buy-to-let sector.

At present, interest rates remain at the historic low of 0.1%. Not only that, but the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has been openly looking at the potential impact of a negative rate since June 2020. Such a move would be the first time in history that the UK has had a negative interest rate and would be excellent news for borrowers. Even without a further reduction, the current low makes mortgage borrowing in 2021 an attractive prospect.

“With borrowing rates at a record low, now is an excellent time to invest in property. The government is printing another £150 billion due to the pandemic – a move that will catch up with it eventually. It carries with it the potential for the currency to devalue and inflation to rise, meaning that tangible assets such as bricks and mortar carry an even more reassuring degree of safety than usual.”

Dale Anderson, Managing Director, Fabrik Invest

So, where will investors be focusing during 2021? On regional markets mainly, based on Fabrik Invest’s insights. Michigan Towers, in the heart of the MediaCityUK site in Salford Quays, Manchester, epitomises this regional trend. The contemporary homes have been designed to suit working professionals who want everything on their doorstep, while benefitting from high quality interiors and impressive views.

Covid will come into play in this respect, as demand for apartments with communal gardens, rooftop terraces and innovative home-working spaces continues to increase.

“We saw a push towards a more rural way of life as the pandemic took the nation in its grip in 2020. However, mass vaccinations over the course of 2021 are likely to drive a resurgence of confidence in the urban lifestyle, with people finally able to enjoy the UK’s cities to the full once more. This is why so many or our investors are seeking apartments right now, rather than lower-yielding houses. It’s yet another factor that is underpinning the success of the buy-to-let market in 2021.”

Dale Anderson, Managing Director, Fabrik Invest

For more information, please contact Fabrik Invest on 020 8175 9891 or enquiries@fabrikpropertygroup.com, or visit www.fabrikinvest.com

The rental market in lockdown 3.0 and beyond – what’s does 2021 have in store?

The rental market in lockdown 3.0 and beyond – what’s does 2021 have in store?

United Kingdom
  • Housing Hand looks at student and wider rental market for coming year
  • Brexit to compound impact of COVID-19 on landlords
  • Hope on horizon from 2022 onwards

2021 was viewed by many as a fresh start – a chance to move on from the myriad difficulties of 2020. Yet January brought more of the same almost immediately, with school closures and the strict implementation of lockdown 3.0. There’s been plenty of speculation about what this could mean for the UK’s property sales over the coming year, but what about the private rented sector?

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand works with landlords and tenants across the UK, providing the company with plenty of insights into the difficulties that the sector is facing. According to Group Managing Director Jeremy Robinson, 2021 could be a bumpy year for the rental market.

The pandemic has created a number of issues, ranging from tenants becoming unable to pay their rent to would-be renters experiencing difficulties during the referencing process. The latest lockdown and its subsequent economic impact have the potential to exacerbate these problems significantly.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

And then there’s Brexit. COVID-related travel restrictions have largely eclipsed Brexit-related issues so far. However, the impact of changes to flows of workers and students into the UK from Europe will be increasingly felt over the course of 2021, according to Housing Hand’s Terry Mason.

“A large number of those who travel to the UK for work or study rent their homes privately while here. Landlords who serve that market are going to feel the impact of Brexit strongly this year.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

COVID comes into play as well for the student private rental market. Should universities deliver courses virtually rather than in-person come the start of the new academic year in September, there’s likely to be a significant impact on those who usually rent properties to students.

Thankfully, the news isn’t all doom and gloom. Rural areas and the Home Counties have enjoyed a surge in rental demand as tenants move out of London and other major cities and Housing Hand anticipates this trend continuing in 2021, as renters continue to drift out of urban areas as their current tenancies expire.

“Lockdown 3.0 will once again emphasise the benefits of renting larger properties with outside space. The Office for National Statistics reports that 21% of London’s households have no access to a garden, either private or shared. The lower cost of renting outside of the city means that a garden suddenly becomes much more affordable.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

A further glimmer of hope for landlords is that, while COVID has had a significant impact on the UK rental sector, there’s every reason to believe that a return to pre-pandemic normality will take place at some point once vaccinations reach the required levels. Hopes may not be too high for this to happen in 2021, and certainly not in time to mitigate the impact of lockdown 3.0, but there is a brighter future ahead eventually for both landlords and tenants.

For more information please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Fabrik Invest reveals top 2021 UK buy-to-let hotspots

Fabrik Invest reveals top 2021 UK buy-to-let hotspots

United Kingdom
  • Up-and-coming cities rubbing shoulders with established hotspots
  • Ideal investment opportunities flagged up in five key locations
  • Manchester crowned as top investment destination for 2021

The UK’s buy-to-let market could be in for a bumper year in 2021, according to property investment company Fabrik Invest. The news comes as the 2019-20 English Housing Survey confirms that the private rented sector continues to house 19% of England’s households – some 4.4 million households.

Fabrik Invest has begun 2021 by revealing its top buy-to-let hotspots for the year ahead, while sharing projections on the shape of the market over the course of the year.  

“The Stamp Duty deadline, Brexit and COVID are going to create some interesting conditions for the UK’s property investment market in 2021. Underpinning all of these is the country’s continued shortfall of housing supply, which creates an inviting marketplace for investors looking to pick up rental properties this year.”

Dale Anderson, Managing Director, Fabrik Invest

The rush to beat the 31 March Stamp Duty deadline has seen buyers in all areas of the market racing to complete. While a drop off in transactions is inevitable following the end of the holiday, the UK’s fundamental shortage of homes means that the buy-to-let market will remain buoyant, according to Fabrik Invest.

Not only that, but currency fluctuations resulting from Brexit could result in some significant overseas interest in UK property investment as the year unfolds.

“If the pound falls as a result of the UK parting ways with the EU, we’re likely to see a surge in investment from overseas buyers looking to take advantage of suddenly being able to get more for their money. The UK remains a preferred investment destination for buyers from a wide range of other countries, many of whom will be keeping a close watch on exchange rates throughout 2021.”

Dale Anderson, Managing Director, Fabrik Invest

Having reviewed a wide range of market factors, the Fabrik Invest team has identified five key locations that should be on savvy investors’ radars in 2021. Manchester tops the table as a result of its rapidly rising property prices and rents and strong long-term prospects. The huge MediaCityUK development makes Salford Quays the area to watch.

Regeneration schemes are also at the heart of the city of Preston’s appeal. The Preston City Deal is overseeing the investment of £434 million into local transport infrastructure and public realm, while major regeneration is also underway in the Harris Quarter, Stoneygate and Preston’s new urban park. Ideally positioned to benefit from the works taking place next to it, Bishopgate Gardens is a luxury development of 130 apartments in Preston city centre. The one, two and three-bedroom homes come with exceptional communal spaces, while ground-floor retail units add neighbourhood appeal. It is this kind of flagship development, which serves to offer a new standard of living in the city, that Fabrik Invest believes will be at the forefront of investors’ minds in 2021.

Another top location to watch is York – a firm favourite with everyone from investors to owner occupiers seeking out a city with charm. The Yorkshire and the Humber region is projected to outperform the UK average for house price rises over the coming five years, while the city’s tourism sector also comes into play.

“Investors looking for a more flexible buy-to-let investment have some interesting options open to them in 2021. In York, for example, apartments at Icona can serve not only as long-term rental investments but also as Airbnb/short-term lets. This provides investors with a welcome degree of choice in order to respond to shifting market conditions.”

Dale Anderson, Managing Director, Fabrik Invest

Birmingham is another destination that warrants keen attention, thanks to its shortfall of over 30,000 homes by 2031. In particular, the city’s most fashionable location – the Jewellery Quarter – will deliver some exciting investment opportunities this year.

Fabrik Invest’s final 2021 buy-to-let investment hotspot is Chatham. This kind of London commuter belt location serves the COVID-spawned desire for more space both inside and out, at prices that are significantly more affordable than those in the capital (both for investors and renters). Substantial local regeneration, swift train journeys into central London and a rapidly growing population combine to make this a must-watch hotspot in 2021.

For more information, please contact Fabrik Invest on 020 8175 9891 or enquiries@fabrikpropertygroup.com, or visit www.fabrikinvest.com

Rental guarantor services “keeping up momentum” in private rented sector, reports Housing Hand

Rental guarantor services “keeping up momentum” in private rented sector, reports Housing Hand

United Kingdom
  • Guarantor services providing accommodation providers with more potential tenants
  • No-cost solution for landlords protects them against lost rental income
  • Guarantors helping to mitigate COVID’s impact on private rented sector

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has highlighted the importance of professional guarantors in keeping the private rented sector buoyant during the COVID-19 pandemic. The largest rent guarantor service in the UK, the company works with accommodation providers to deliver access to a wider pool of tenants.

By acting as a guarantor for working professionals and students, Housing Hand increases the number of renters available to accommodation providers, thus helping to keep the market buoyant, despite the financial uncertainties that currently abound.

Rental guarantor services help tenants to access the accommodation they want, but they are also hugely beneficial to the providers of that accommodation. They provide a degree of certainty, as landlords know that there is a professional service ready to step in should the tenant become unable to pay their rent. In these uncertain economic times, that knowledge can be very reassuring; it is keeping up momentum in the private housing sector.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Housing Hand’s service, which is free for landlords and agents to use, can provide payment to an accommodation provider in the event that a tenant is unable to do so. The award-winning service also comprehensively covers damages and dilapidations. To date, Housing Hand has worked with over 3,500 accommodation providers and has covered more than £646 million in rent since 2013.

With a professional guarantor service in place, landlords are able to move forward with tenancies that may not otherwise have been viable, as they have the reassurance that they won’t end up out of pocket.

Housing Hand’s service is available to landlords, letting agents, universities and purpose-build student accommodation providers. In every case, the company works to provide access to a greater number of potential tenants.

“The rental sector is often quick to feel the impact of recessionary times. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented some unique economic challenges, which we will need to work together to overcome. Hopefully, by supporting the fluidity of the rental sector, we will help to mitigate at least some of the impact of the pandemic.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

For more information please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Students to serve as landlords’ ray of light in 2021

Students to serve as landlords’ ray of light in 2021

United Kingdom
  • Housing Hand forecasts Brexit as exacerbating economic impact of COVID-19
  • Falling property prices, tax changes and fewer international renters will mean a tough year for landlords
  • A bumper cohort of students in September 2021 will provide the sole ray of light

Many people are looking to 2021 to deliver them from the horrors of 2020. However, with mass vaccination likely to take months and the impact of Brexit thrown into the mix, there’s unlikely to be much for landlords to celebrate during the first half of the year.

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has flagged up the combined impact of falling property prices, tax changes and lower numbers of international renters as a major stumbling block for the UK rental sector over the year ahead.

The only thing certain about the UK rental market following Brexit, is uncertainty. Landlords face uncertain income from tenants, while tenants continue to face uncertain income due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the number of working European tenants is likely to drop due to Brexit and COVID. All against a likely backdrop of falling property prices.

The requirements for European tenants to travel, work and rent in the UK will change as a result of Brexit. Renting is likely to become more difficult, as the right to rent requirements will almost certainly change at some point in the not-too-distant future. Brexit’s effect on rental property, compounded by COVID, tax and legislation changes, means it is difficult to foresee many positives for landlords in 2021.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

According to JLL, house prices in 2021 are likely to drop by 1.5%, with rental values falling by 1.0%. Lost GDP growth, rising unemployment, falling housing affordability and the removal of the furlough scheme will all play a role in this. Others in the industry are more confident, forecasting growth in prices in 2021, though the end of the Stamp Duty holiday could have a significant impact. In any case, the market for capital growth is likely to be flat.

Growth in income for landlords will also be a challenge due to increased competition. With job availability decreasing and freedom to travel for work stopping from Europe, the number of tenants coming into the UK will decrease, exacerbating landlords’ troubles.

Fewer international tenants, an increase in tenants defaulting on rent and a likely oversupply of rental accommodation shifting the national picture to a tenants’ market rather than a landlords’ one certainly paints a grim picture. However, Housing Hand does highlight one ray of hope: students.

“The indications are that the 2021/22 academic year is likely to be a bumper year for students, with little reaction to Brexit. We have last year’s candidates who decided to take a year out rather than attending university now wanting to start. We also have a larger number of students reaching university age with fewer jobs available, meaning going to university becomes a safer option. Then there’s the fact that a larger number of international students started university in 2020 and will thus be returning for their second year.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Knight Frank and UCAS report that 30% of first-year students live in privately rented accommodation or at home with parents or guardians (in addition to the 30% who live in private purpose-built student accommodation). As such, a bumper year for university entrants spells very good news for landlords with properties in the right locations.

Rental guarantor services, meanwhile, provide those renting to students (and, indeed, working professionals), with the peace of mind that they won’t end up out of pocket should the tenant fail to pay their rent. This means that landlords can be confident in capitalising on renting to students over the course of 2021 – a ray of hope to which many will likely be clinging.

For more information please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/