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Under the skin of the letting market

Here we share news and views on both the local letting market in & around Oxfordshire and all planned and recent legislation.


New regulations around smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms will come into force on 1st October this year. Since 2015, landlords have legally had to ensure at least one smoke alarm is fitted on each storey of their homes where there is a room used as living accommodation. They have also had to provide a carbon monoxide alarm where there is a solid fuel appliance, such as an open fire.

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A contracted market leads to efficient letting

Total tenant demand across the UK was up 6% in Q1 while available properties were down 50% year-on- year1 and the letting market in Oxfordshire has continued in a similar vein throughout April, May and June. Increased competition has led to applicants being very clear about what they want and very decisive when they see it. Across our eight offices properties are still letting off-market or within a matter of hours at very strong rents, though our focus remains on matching the right tenant with the right property.

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Rental Reform White Paper

The Renters Reform Bill was first announced in December 2019 and the Government has published its long-awaited White Paper today. Part of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ wider agenda to level up the country, this bill will attempt to force an improvement in the quality of accommodation offered by rogue landlords*

Some key elements of the White Paper are:

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Oxford Landlord Licensing Approved

As of 1st September all private rented homes in Oxford City will need a licence. The Government has approved Oxford City Council’s selective licensing scheme which is aimed at addressing poor conditions in privately rented property making up nearly half (49.3%1) of all Oxford homes. There is already significant legislation in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of tenants to include, but not limited to, Gas Safety Regulation, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, Electrical Safety Standards as well as formal requirements to provide certain legislative documentation at the start of a tenancy.

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A Shortage of Housing Continues to Impact Oxfordshire’s Letting Market

The chronic lack of properties to let has continued into Quarter 1 of 2022 (January, February and March), with demand outstripping supply so much that the majority of properties let within a week if not before they were even listed. Across the county our letting teams were swamped with enquiries as soon as properties were listed, and solid rents were regularly achieved on new listings, relists and renewals. This tangible disparity between supply and demand has impacted applicants’ behaviour in different ways, as our eight offices report:

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2022: A Year for Change?

Although the last two years may have felt relatively static for many, the Oxfordshire letting market has been extremely active, with the pandemic impacting all sorts of factors in different ways. We would not be so bold as to claim we know what is in store for 2022, but we have taken a measured view of the private rented sector (PRS) for the coming year.

Delayed Rental Reform
The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is so wide-ranging that it’s no surprise that rental reform was pushed back from last autumn. Now expected in the spring, the proposed reform would see some of the biggest changes in the private rented sector for decades. Having more than doubled in size (see graph below), the PRS is ripe for an update, but changes that deter landlords would have a negative impact for tenants in the long run.

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360° Service throughout 2021

As we approach the end of the year we wanted to reflect on an ongoing project that represents our 360° service in action.

Our Central Oxford team had let and managed a block of 10 apartments in Oxford city centre for more than 20 years. Towards the end of 2020, the owners told us of their plans to sell the whole block. Their Property Manager referred them to Inspired Sales and Acquisitions, our sales and investment specialists whose expertise lies in matching up landlords who want to sell with investors looking for proven investment opportunities.

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