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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.


Proactive letting leads to record-breaking summer

Our Central Oxford office has had an extremely busy summer, letting 109 properties between the start of June and the end of August. This is impressive not only because it broke any previous records held for the team, but because they were able to achieve this success in very challenging times. Many of these properties were snapped up really quickly, including the examples below.


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Landlord Licensing in Oxford

Oxford City Council has launched a public consultation on two licensing schemes aimed at improving conditions in the private rented sector (PRS). Following agreement by the cabinet on 9th September, the council is seeking views on its intention to:

Extend the current ‘additional’ licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) until 2026
A house in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by three or more people who are not from one ‘household’ (e.g. a family) but share facilities such as the kitchen and bathroom. In 2011 Oxford became the first council in England to introduce a citywide scheme requiring every HMO to be licensed, ensuring the property meets safety standards among other things. The current scheme is due to expire in January 2021 and consultation is required as a condition of renewing the scheme for another five years.


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A move away from short lets

Since lockdown an increasing number of landlords have made the decision to shift from short- to long-term lets to ensure continued income on their investment property. Reduced numbers of tourists during the pandemic has resulted in a dramatic drop in demand for short-term lets. In July, the CEO of Airbnb announced a loss of 80% of their business in just 6 weeks1 and recent reports claim that Airbnb lets are “flooding the market” in London2.


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Can I sell my property while the tenant is living there?

When looking to sell a tenanted property it can be difficult to decide the best course of action: regain possession before selling or sell with sitting tenants.

The former might be thought of as the ‘traditional’ way, but this process can take months. It involves serving notice to terminate the tenancy, waiting to gain access, checking for any necessary repairs or redecoration, preparing and marketing the property then waiting for a sale.


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Positive actions lead to success

A black swan is a rare event that has a major impact and is both difficult to have predicted but is considered obvious in hindsight. The first half of 2020 has all the markings of a black swan. However over our 48 years we have worked through different global crises and so, as before, we continued to work as a team to deliver a quality service to our customers and clients. Doing so has led to real successes across our eight offices in Oxfordshire.


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Electrical Safety Standards

Until this year electrical safety certificates were not a mandatory requirement for rented properties. However, as landlords have a common law duty of care to their tenants, our company policy has always been to strongly recommend that our clients have an electrical safety test carried out on their property as a way of ensuring that the electrical installations are safe. The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020, introduced this year, are a welcome piece of legislation that will help to clarify the definition of ‘safe’ and mean that all landlords will now be required to do what good landlords already do: to ensure that the electrics in their rental property are not dangerous.


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The Tenant Fees Act – transition period ending

The Tenant Fees Act came into effect in England on 1st June 2019. The law bans letting agents and landlords from charging tenants any letting fees other than rent, tenancy deposits, holding deposits and explicitly stated default charges.

At the same time, a deposit cap was introduced meaning that tenancy deposits are restricted to five weeks’ rent (or six weeks if the annual rent is £50,000 or more). Since last year, any existing deposit over this new 5-week cap had to be refunded on any new or renewed fixed-term tenancy agreements created on or after the 1st June 2019.


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