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Are we heading for a buy-to-let exodus?

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The number of homes for rent in Britain could drop dramatically, as landlords leave the market thanks to higher taxes and stricter rules.  

Almost a million landlords, more than a third of the total, will review their property portfolios in the next year, according to the Nottingham Building Society, and the number planning to sell homes outnumbers those planning to buy new ones.

A fifth plan to sell some or all of their portfolio, it said, while 16 per cent plan to buy more. 

While those homes going to first-time buyers or families would help more people climb onto or up the property ladder, it could also lead to a shortage of roperty to rent. In some popular parts of the the country a lack of rental homes has recently led to bidding wars.

Letting go: There are more landlords considering selling their buy-to-lets than there are new ones wanting to buy them, according to two reports

Letting go: There are more landlords considering selling their buy-to-lets than there are new ones wanting to buy them, according to two reports

Meanwhile, a new report by the University of York and the Nationwide Foundation found that a large cohort of baby boomer landlords were now ‘ageing out’ of the market –  and were not being replaced at the same rate by younger landlords due to diminished returns and more stringent regulation.

This, it said, could mean that there are not enough rental homes to go around in future – especially for those tenants on lower incomes and who receive benefits.

It added that across the entire sector, there was a fall of 30 per cent in the volume of buy-to-let mortgages between 2014-15 and 2018-19.

Both reports noted that tax changes have been one of the main factors making buy-to-let less attractive for some. Previously landlords got tax relief on mortgage interest, but this ended in April 2020.

There are also new restrictions on private residence relief, which reduces the capital gains tax due on homes which people rent out after living in them.

Dr Julie Rugg, lead author of the report, said: ‘Letting property looks altogether different to landlords now: it looks like a much risker proposition, delivering a lower level of return and with a lot more hassle.

‘As one landlord said to me, ‘stocks and shares may not deliver the same level of return, but they don’t phone me on a Sunday morning because the boiler’s bust”.

‘We feel we’re being picked on’: Landlords have their say 

 The University of York report features interviews with landlords, who gave an insight into their thoughts about the buy-to-let market. 

One smaller portfolio landlord who self-managed with his wife said: ‘We want to wash our hands of the whole thing and take the money out. 

‘It’ll mean that we won’t have an income but we think we might have enough capital to carry on to, well, the rest of our lives. We’re 72 now so, being realistic, we might only have another few years left.’ 

On Universal Credit, one landlord said: ‘It’s another nail in the coffin because the legislation’s getting tighter, the mortgage interest rate change was a massive thing, the loss of Section 21 that’s on its way. 

‘It’s just, yes, we feel like we’re being picked on and must be top of the list, someone doesn’t like us sort of thing’ 

A Leeds-based landlord said that people in receipt of benefit carried too many disadvantages compared with other tenants: ‘If I can get somebody who can pay on the day he walks into the house, pay a month in advance plus a month deposit, why would I bother taking someone who can’t pay for five weeks and I can’t get insurance on? It really doesn’t make any sense’.

However, another was more lenient: ‘Personally, I’ll take a good-as-gold tenant on benefits over probably like a normal tenant, because if you treat them right and make sure the house is all looked after and stuff, they stay a long time. They’re happy. 

‘I’ve got plenty of DSS tenants that take pride in their houses and they’re always asking me, ‘Can I paint? I can do this? Can I change the carpet?’

Rugg also mentioned the ‘regulatory burden’ which landlords felt they were faced with thanks to stricter Government rules on how they managed their tenancies.  

They are now open to possible criminal convictions and fines of up to £30,000 if they contravene the Housing Act, for example. 

Restrictions on landlords’ ability to serve section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notices also meant that some landlords were worried that they would be unable to evict problematic tenants, the York report noted. 

Some landlords interviewed in the report said they had ended up paying such tenants to leave. 

Denise Wells, head of mortgage operations at The Nottingham, said: ‘Our research suggests sellers currently outnumber buyers in the buy-to-let market with regulatory issues and tax changes among the reasons persuading landlords to pull out of the market.’

Some landlords complained about the 'hassle' of managing tenancies in a climate of diminishing returns (picture posed by models)

Some landlords complained about the ‘hassle’ of managing tenancies in a climate of diminishing returns (picture posed by models)

Interest still remains in property investing 

But despite these changes, The Nottingham also found that 11 per cent of people who have never been landlords want to purchase a buy-to-let in the next five years.

‘It remains the case that there are potentially strong returns to be earned in the buy-to-let market and we continue to see landlords buying rental properties whilst our research indicates that many more potential landlords are considering going into the market too,’ Wells added.

According to The Nottingham, their main reason for potentially investing in buy-to-lets was the low rates available on cash savings. 

More than half (55 per cent) said they wanted to put their cash into property to earn a better return while 48 per cent saw buy-to-let as a good way to diversify their investments and 42 were confident buy-to-let would generate a good income.

Most landlords interviewed in the York report were of the view that new entrants to the market could make it ‘stack up’, if they bought the right property in the right place. 

However they also questioned whether – given what they regarded as a ‘hostile environment’ for landlords – it would be wise to take the risk. 

Landlords' reasons for buying and selling homes, according to The Nottingham

Landlords’ reasons for buying and selling homes, according to The Nottingham

Low-income tenants could be hit particularly hard 

The York study found that many landlords had a ‘No DSS’ policy and would not rent to benefit claimants.

Of landlords that had been in the market for three years or less, only 9 per cent said they rented to tenants receiving housing benefit, along with 28 per cent of those in the market for more than 11 years.

The landlords said they were unhappy about the long delays with initial payments of housing benefit and problems with managing Universal Credit, and found it easier to deal with tenants who didn’t need help paying the rent.

Larger landlords renting to tenants receiving benefits were much more likely to be planning to reduce their properties or exit the market than to increase their lettings.

However, it noted that there were some locations where increases in the housing benefit rates combined with low house prices mean that landlords can achieve better returns by letting to benefit recipients, compared with letting on the open market.

And it said that some landlords were increasingly targeting the housing benefit claimants with the greatest additional needs, where rent is paid directly to the landlord.

Rugg added: ‘It’s a real concern that many good, professional landlords are no longer letting to housing benefit claimants because of the way that Universal Credit is administered’.

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Instagrammer captures abandoned Welsh property in series of eerie photographs

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Who would live in a house like this? Instagrammer photographs abandoned Welsh property – complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday, dishes still in the sink and a newspaper dating back to 1956

  • Photographs reveal the rooms have been untouched for decades and house opened bottle of Champagne  
  • Discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales 
  • Kyle said: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory’ 
  • ***Do YOU know who lived in the abandoned house? Contact izzy.nikolic@mailonline.co.uk*** 

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An abandoned Welsh house has been captured in a series of eerie photographs complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday and dishes still in the sink.  

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx.’  

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. 

A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up and dishes still in the sink.

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: 'Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can't be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx'

Pictured: A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx’

The property has been dubbed 'Granddad's abandoned house' after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property 

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex (pictured) while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

Mr Urbex said: 'I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn't too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open'

Mr Urbex said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open’

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales.

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home.’

He said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open.

‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many.

‘The porch area had been trashed, however the seating still remained intact and of course the champagne bottle for his 90th birthday still left on the fireplace.

He added: 'Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many'

Dishes are left undone in the sink in the kitchen

He added: ‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house. He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was’

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone's 'dream family home'

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home’

Mr Urbex added: 'Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind'

Mr Urbex added: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind’

‘I found it quite sad really given all the memories just left to be forgotten about. As well as the house there was a caravan hidden at the back in all the overgrowth which had more memories inside, old books and so on.

‘I managed to uncover an old bike in the shed which looked like it had been there quite a while.

‘Alongside all of these findings I came across a newspaper dated from November 3 1956.’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house.

He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was.

‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind.’

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Foley to bring school reopening plan to Cabinet on Tuesday

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Minister for Education Norma Foley says she has every confidence schools will reopen fully from late August and early September.

Ms Foley said there was ongoing engagement between her department and public health officials on the matter but all schools were set to reopen.

Strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be controlled environments, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday.

Covid-19 infection rates among children were at their highest when children were not at school and public health experts had pointed out “on a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment”.

The safe operation of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps indicated that the safe operation of education could be maintained, she said.

A plan would be put in place to allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors and the Minister said she was confident there would be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

In relation to Covid-19 vaccines for children, Ms Foley said the “expertise” lay with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) from which her department would take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added.

Ms Foley will bring a plan to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining enhanced public information campaigns, the outcome of antigen testing pilots, and the purchase of C02 monitors to assist in ventilating classrooms.

Capacity limits on school transport services will also remain in place.

Government sources were adamant on Sunday that second-level education would resume in the autumn, despite concerns among public-health officials that the wave could grow following the reopening of indoor dining today, before peaking in September.

“Schools will reopen,” a senior Coalition source said.

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Over 40 complaints made about ‘unsuitable’ books on English curriculum

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Some books being studied by Junior Cert and Leaving Cert English students feature “disturbing and sick content” and material that is “clearly unsuitable for minors”, complainants have told the Department of Education.

The department has received more than 40 complaints on the issue in recent months, with one email to Minister Norma Foley describing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as “nothing but sadistic, upsetting and of no moral learning or value to students”.

The acclaimed dystopian novel is based in a patriarchal totalitarian state where women, or handmaids, are forced to produce children for commanders.

One “concerned parent” said they were “perturbed” that their teenager was studying the novel Room by Irish author Emma Donoghue.

‘Questionable’

They said many of the topics in the book were “questionable” and that greater consideration should have been given before the book was “forced upon sensitive people in this day and age”. The Booker-shortlisted story is told from the perspective of a young boy held captive in a small room with his mother.

The emails, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, were from parents, one of whom said they were “appealing to and begging” the department to change the curriculum.

One parent expressed “shock and concern” about the prescribed reading lists, citing a perceived “lack of vigilance regarding the age appropriateness” of some books. “The material is offensive, abhorrent and clearly unsuitable for minors,” they said.

The curriculum could “only be described as the sexualisation and desensitising of our children… there needs to be an investigation into this whole sordid affair”, another complaint said.

‘Enslaving’

One person said the book list was “enslaving” students to “abominable ungodly content”, while another sarcastically suggested there was “nothing to stop” Fifty Shades of Grey, the bestselling explicit erotic romance novel, being added.

Some emails were directed towards Ms Foley personally, and called for her to be fired and “held directly responsible”. The department’s response stated that the curriculum at all levels was considered to be for all learners “regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic background, gender or orientation”.

It said it was important that each book was viewed “in its entirety rather than being reduced to particular sections which may be especially controversial”, and that the texts had “strong literary pedigrees” and featured on curricula internationally.

There were also several emails sent to the department in defence of the curriculum, predominantly from students.

The text-list working groups for each subject, convened by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, are comprised of teachers, third-level lecturers, staff from relevant support agencies and experts in children’s and young adult literature. The curriculum did not change this year though the Minister said it would be reviewed in the coming months.


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