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ARLA Property reveals its wish list for landlords and tenants

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The housing market has been on a rollercoaster in the pandemic this year, even briefly closing amid the first lockdown.

It has been particularly tough on landlords and tenants, who were already facing increasing amounts of pressure due to tighter regulation and costs.

The Government stepped in during March with a ban on tenant evictions to help protect tenants and mortgage payment holiday for landlords. But the sector still remains in a fragile position as the end of the year draws to a close.

We spoke to the chief policy adviser at the lettings industry body ARLA Propertymark, Mark Hayward, about what he would like to see introduced next year to help improve the situation for both landlords and tenants.

Buy-to-let wish lish: ARLA Propertymark is calling for some changes to the rental sector

Buy-to-let wish lish: ARLA Propertymark is calling for some changes to the rental sector

Mr Hayward said: ‘It’s been an unprecedented year for not just the buy-to-let sector, but the housing sector as a whole and we’re now sat in a very different place to this time last year.

‘The Government has acknowledged the important role the buy-to-let sector plays in driving forward the economy, so we’re hopeful that our wish list for the sector will come to fruition.’

The wish list includes calls for the Government to pay the rent of tenants affected by coronavirus direct to landlords and a request for no more tax increases.

Mr Hayward added: ‘It is vital the negative impacts of further taxes on an already penalised sector are considered and the Government must introduce initiatives to help tenants keep the rent flowing and the courts handle eviction cases.

‘Additionally, new buy-to-let landlords should be encouraged through build-to-rent schemes. All of this will help boost the sector, encourage new landlords and help the private rented sector thrive in 2021.’

Keep rents flowing

Unemployment has hit some tenants amid the pandemic, restricting their ability to pay their rent.

It has left some of their landlords facing rental arrears and an inability to make their mortgage payments.

Both parties have been encouraged to communicate a smooth path through these challenging times, and the Government has assisted with a ban on evictions and mortgage payment holidays.

However, tenants must still eventually cover the rental payments that have accrued in the same way that landlords must still repay their mortgage at the end of the loan term, even if they take a payment holiday.

ARLA Propertymark is calling on the Government to pay a tenant’s rent in full if they have lost their income due to coronavirus – either through falling ill or being made redundant.

It would require tenants to send evidence that they had been affected to the Department of Work and Pensions, with their rent being paid directly to landlords.

ARLA Propertymark suggests that the evidence could include a sick note issued by calling 111, a P45, or confirmation from their former employer that they had been laid off.

Support the courts on the evictions backlog

The ban on tenant evictions was introduced to protect tenants during the coronavirus.

It meant that while a landlord could still serve a Section 21 notice, they could not begin court proceedings to physically remove a tenant from a property.

The moratorium on evictions which was introduced early in 2020 due to the financial implications of the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that courts are facing a huge backlog of cases.

With few evictions able to take place until late January next year, ARLA Propertymark is calling for further support to be given to the courts so that the courts can cope with the number of cases.

Don’t stage a tax raid on landlords

There is speculation that landlords could be hit by another massive tax raid next year, amid recommendations for an overhaul of capital gains tax.

Capital gains tax is levied on the profit when an asset is sold. It is the gain that is taxed rather than the total sum received.

The tax is levied on gains made from the sale of second homes and buy-to-let properties – but not main residences, which are exempt.

It affects profits above the annual capital gains tax allowance of £12,300. Crucially, capital gains are added to an individual’s income to decide the rate they pay. 

This means those with income from employment, or elsewhere, who make a profit of tens of thousands of pounds on a property are likely to be pushed above the £50,000 higher rate tax threshold and pay capital gains tax at the top 28 per cent rate. 

The proposals to align it with income tax would push up the rate further. They could see the tax rate on capital gains made on buy-to-let properties rise from the current 18 per cent to 20 per cent for basic rate taxpayers.

For higher rate taxpayers, it would see the rate on residential property that is not their main home rise from the current 28 per cent to 40 per cent.

ARLA Propertymark says that any changes to increase capital gains tax will have a ‘considerable negative impact’ on existing and prospective landlords.

It suggested that it would also contribute to a dwindling supply of rental properties if people won’t go into buy-to-let due to the tax hit.

It called on the Government to avoid introducing any further penalties next year to ‘an already heavily penalised sector’.

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British ex-pat, 67, is forced to DESTROY his Spanish home two months after his wife died from cancer

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A British ex-pat has been forced to knock down his £130,000 Spanish home two months after his wife died from cancer.

But the situation for 67-year-old Gurney Davey, from Suffolk, could get worse because he is facing six months in prison after a mayor illegally gave him planning permission for the house.

‘I was distraught at first, my blood pressure was sky high and then I lost my wife,’ Mr Davey said this week as he was demolishing his home near Tolox, Malaga.

Gurney Davey, 67, has been forced to knock down his £130,000 Spanish home two months after his wife died from cancer

Gurney Davey, 67, has been forced to knock down his £130,000 Spanish home two months after his wife died from cancer

Despite Friday’s demolition also costing him €1,600, he added that it had actually come as ‘some sort of relief’ having fought the legal battle since 2004, over the house he built in 2003. 

It was then that legal firm, Manzanares, informed him he would be getting a licence for an ‘almacen’ (or storeroom), which would allow him to build the house.

‘We thought we had done everything right. We got legal advice and went through a lawyer in order to get permission to build the home,’ Davey explained. 

But he was later told that his house was one of around 350 that were illegally given planning permission by the former mayor, Juan Vera, who was eventually handed a prison sentence of his own.

Mr Davey was told his house had to be demolished for himself to avoid a six-month prison sentence, with the news coming just after his wife, Diana, died from bowel cancer at the age of 71.

‘Diana fought breast cancer for six years before bowel cancer – I am sure the stress brought it on.’ 

‘But thankfully it is now over,’ he explained. ‘It has been going on for so long now, I’ve finally come to terms with what needs to be done. 

‘Having it demolished was actually a relief,’ he added.

As he still owns the land, he can still live on it – just not in a house.

Despite Friday's demolition also costing him €1,600, he added that it had actually come as 'some sort of relief' having fought the legal battle since 2004, over the house be built in 2003. Pictured: Mr Davey's home in Spain before it was demolished on Friday

Despite Friday’s demolition also costing him €1,600, he added that it had actually come as ‘some sort of relief’ having fought the legal battle since 2004, over the house be built in 2003. Pictured: Mr Davey’s home in Spain before it was demolished on Friday

Mr Davey was told that his house was one of around 350 that were illegally given planning permission by the former mayor, Juan Vera, who was eventually handed a prison sentence. Pictured: Mr Davey's home in Spain after it was demolished on Friday

Mr Davey was told that his house was one of around 350 that were illegally given planning permission by the former mayor, Juan Vera, who was eventually handed a prison sentence. Pictured: Mr Davey’s home in Spain after it was demolished on Friday

Now, the father-of-three is planning a minimalist life staying in a converted van, so that his five dogs still have the space to roam.

‘This land is my home, it is my life and these dogs are all I have left.’

Whether or not he still faces a prison sentence, is yet to be confirmed.

The ex-pat only found out about the potential six-month sentence when a court document was delivered to a neighbour’s house.

‘I went straight to Tolox town hall with it. They told me I shouldn’t have received it yet,’ he recalled. ‘They said they were going to be sending the notification to me once they had stamped it.’

He had never been told about the court case that followed on from a Guardia Civil denuncia for an ‘illegal build’, but Davey’s two-bed home should never have been built according to the Malaga court.

Now, the father-of-three is planning a minimalist life staying in a converted van, so that his five dogs (pictured) still have the space to roam

Now, the father-of-three is planning a minimalist life staying in a converted van, so that his five dogs (pictured) still have the space to roam

In 2016, and then again in 2017, Davey was ordered to knock down his house, but, in common with a neighbour, he waited for more details.

While his Spanish neighbour, Irene Millan, 29, did eventually hear from the court again, she was given six months to ‘legalise’ her property – an option Davey was never given.

However, his neighbour’s apparent good luck turned into a poisoned chalice.

Having spent €20,000 with the town hall to legalise the dwelling, the court finally refused to accept the new paperwork provided by the council.

Instead, demolition was ordered – which went ahead last week.

To add insult to injury Irene’s 54-year-old father, Manuel Millan, whose name was on the deeds, was also sentenced to six months jail and handed a fine of €6 a day for a year.

Whether or not he still faces a prison sentence, is yet to be confirmed. The ex-pat only found out about the potential six-month sentence when a court document was delivered to a neighbour's house

Whether or not he still faces a prison sentence, is yet to be confirmed. The ex-pat only found out about the potential six-month sentence when a court document was delivered to a neighbour’s house

As he still owns the land, he can still live on it - just not in a house. Pictured: Mr Davey, a former builder, uses a JCB digger to demolish his own home

As he still owns the land, he can still live on it – just not in a house. Pictured: Mr Davey, a former builder, uses a JCB digger to demolish his own home

The couple, originally from Suffolk in the UK, spent £130,000 building their property.

‘It came as a package – a plot with a new home on it.’

Davey admits he and his wife were perhaps naive to follow the advice of their lawyer.

The lawyer, from legal firm Manzanares, told them that planning permission would be applied for as an almacen – or ‘warehouse’.

Mr Davey (pictured) was told his house had to be demolished for himself to avoid a six-month prison sentence, with the news coming just after his wife, Diana, died from bowel cancer at the age of 71

Mr Davey (pictured) was told his house had to be demolished for himself to avoid a six-month prison sentence, with the news coming just after his wife, Diana, died from bowel cancer at the age of 71

This way it would come under the remit of Tolox town hall, which would give permission and later they could ‘legalise’ the property.

The language of one legal letter suggests this would be a mere formality, but the property never got legalised.

In fact, the Tolox mayor of the time, Juan Vera, has since been jailed and fined for his part in a scheme.

In most cases the mayor used the very same ‘lax’ procedure of applying to build an ‘almacen’ to try to keep the prying eyes of the Junta authorities away.

‘We thought that was the way things worked in Spain,’ said Davey, a retired builder. ‘We went to see a lawyer and got advice. It turns out that was not the smart thing to do.

‘Why would we deliberately try to build illegally? It makes no sense that we would sell up everything in the UK and risk it all.’

Mr Davey had earlier said that he was forced to ask the town hall for permission to knock his own property down.

‘I will do it myself. I will borrow a JCB from someone and flatten my home of the past 17 years. I will not let the town hall do it and charge me more money.’

It is not the first time British expats have had their homes demolished in Andalucia, with the Priors, in Almeria, the most famous victims.

They still live in the garage of their house today, over 10 years since the house was knocked down in Vera. 

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Two teenagers died after separate incidents in Dublin and Waterford

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Two teenagers have died after separate incidents in Dublin and Waterford on Wednesday.

Gardaí in Ballyfermot responded to a call at an equestrian centre at Tay Lane, Co Dublin, at about 2pm.

Dublin Fire Brigade and the National Ambulance Service attended the scene and provided medical assistance to a 15-year-old girl who was injured during an exercise event.

She was removed to Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, where she later died.

Gardaí said the coroner has been notified. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has also been notified and will carry out an examination on Thursday.

Gardaí said investigations are ongoing. A file will be prepared for the Coroner’s Court.

Separately, gardaí and emergency services attended the scene of a workplace accident in Dungarvan, Co Waterford on Wednesday afternoon.

A boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

The HSA has been notified and will carry out an investigation. A file will be prepared for the coroner.

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Tritax EuroBox acquires Swedish logistics property for €47m

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Tritax EuroBox continues to expand its presence in the Swedish market with a €47m acquisition. The asset held freehold has a total gross internal area of approximately 28,900m² and comprises two purpose-built logistics facilities (one of 16,200m² and the other 12,700m²), located in the heart of the prime logistics location in the Port of Gothenburg. 

 

The Port of Gothenburg has been ranked as the most attractive logistics location in the Nordics for 20 years by Intelligent Logistik, the leading Nordic logistics media platform. There are currently no vacant logistics buildings in the port area. The Port is home to Scandinavia’s largest container terminal, which is forecast to grow over the coming years. The buildings are fully let to Agility AB, Nordicon AB and Vink Essaplast Group AB, generating a total annual rent of €1.79m on leases with a weighted average unexpired lease term of six years.  The rent reflects a rate of €62.50psm per annum.  All leases are annually indexed to 100% of Swedish CPI.

 

Nick Preston, Fund Manager of Tritax EuroBox, commented: “We are delighted to acquire our first asset in the Nordics which aligns with our disciplined investment approach and our long term strategic goals. The asset held freehold is located in the region’s strongest logistics market and offers asset management upside through working closely with the occupiers to achieve their business plans and increase rents to market levels. We expect to see continued strong market rental growth in the Port of Gothenburg, due to the natural constraint of land supply in the port area, and the increasing demand from occupiers. The Port of Gothenburg has a clear plan for growth, with significant infrastructure investment committed, further strengthening this location.”

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