Consultation Launched on Extra 1% Stamp Duty for non-UK Residents

A new property tax is being considered for people buying property in parts of the UK who are non-UK residents as part of the government’s effort to help control the rise of house prices.

The Treasury has launched a consultation into proposals to add 1% onto the stamp duty paid when buying a home in England and Northern Ireland, payable by those who are not British residents

Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster, said,

“The UK is and will remain an open and dynamic economy, but some evidence shows that non-UK resident buyers of UK property could be inflating house prices.

“A 1% surcharge could help more people own their own homes in the future, and its proceeds will go towards tackling rough sleeping, boosting our plan to halve the numbers of rough sleepers by 2022.”

The consultation will cover all aspects of the charge, including how non-residents will be defined and how it applies to companies.

The charge will apply to any person who is non-resident in the UK, including certain UK resident companies which are controlled by overseas shareholders.

Buying house in UK city at least affordable level since 2007

A new report suggests city living is at its least affordable levels for home buyers since 2007.

The study by Lloyds Bank found that the average house price in a UK city in 2018 equated to 7.2 times average annual earnings. This makes the cost of buying a home the least affordable since 2007.

The average home in a city cost £248,233 while average full-time earnings stood at £34,366.

Oxford was found to be the least affordable city in the study, with average house prices standing at more than 12-and-a-half times earnings in the city.

Londonderry in Northern Ireland and Stirling in Scotland were found to be the most affordable cities, with properties standing at just under four-and-a-half times average earnings.

Andrew Mason, mortgage products director, Lloyds Bank, said, “Buying a home in UK cities remains challenging, as average house prices are outpacing wage growth. Home owners are still attracted to cities across the UK, in spite of rising costs.”

Government working on new house sale agreement aimed at speeding up buying process

The government is working on a new house sale agreement aimed at speeding up the buying process which will be trialled later this year, according to Housing Minister Heather Wheeler.

Wheeler said the aim is to develop a standard reservation agreement and officials are working with the industry led Home Buying and Selling Group. Furthermore, there could be compensation for those who lose money as a result of a failed sale.

Wheeler said, “Too many people are walking on a tightrope from the moment they put in that offer. Things can happen over 19 weeks that can genuinely scupper a move and I wouldn’t want to force anyone to move if they don’t want to.

“But I also don’t want people pulling out without consequences, just because they’ve now decided they don’t like the avocado bathroom suite. When this happens, it can take a whole chain down.

“We want to increase people’s commitment by ensuring that they’ve got some skin in the game. While an agreement can’t compensate the emotional stress of a failed transaction, people should be able to recover their costs.”

Wheeler added that Government research shows that 50% of buyers and 70% of sellers would have been prepared to enter into a legal agreement, if they had known it existed.

“We’re commissioning behavioural insight research to help us design an agreement that’s supported by consumers and industry alike, and we’ll be running a field trial later this year.”

Wheeler also wrote to local authorities last year to set out expectations that they will turn around property searches within 10 working days. She said that now more than 80% of local authorities are hitting this target with the quickest doing so in under a day.

“We still have a way to go to speed things up, especially where leaseholds are concerned. Having a leasehold property in the chain can add at least an extra week, due to difficulties getting information from freeholders and managing agents.

“As it stands, there aren’t any guidelines around the provision of this information, leaving leaseholders at the mercy of freeholders, who can charge whatever they like and take as long as they like.

“We’re changing this, setting out a timetable and fees for providing this information. This will also include a fee to update this information, as I know conveyancers begin to get nervous when data starts getting old.”




More than 102, 000 sales of land and property registered in England and Wales in November 2018

Official figures reveal there were 102,703 sales received by the Land Registry in November last year.

Of these, 77,369 were freehold, a 2% decrease on November 2017 and 14,866 were newly built, a 13.5% increase over the same period.

Of the 102,703 sales received for registration, some 31,721 took place in November 2018 of which 567 were of residential properties in England and Wales for £1 million and over, 336 were of residential properties in Greater London for £1 million and over.

The data also shows that three were of residential properties in West Midlands for more than £1 million, seven were in Greater Manchester for more than £1 million and two were in Cardiff for more than £1 million.

The most expensive residential sale taking place in November 2018 was a terraced property in the City of Westminster for £38,822,000 while the cheapest was a terraced property in Burnley, Lancashire, for £16,700.



Landlord trio ordered to pay £250,000 after cramming 31 tenants into home

A family of landlords has been ordered to pay almost £250,000 after “cramming” 31 tenants into a four-bedroom house.

Council officers found the tenants were forced to sleep in shifts as night workers would swap with those who had daytime working hours at the property in Wembley.

Four beds were found in the front room and three in each bedroom.

The authority said Harsha Shah, her daughter Chandni and brother Sanjay were bringing in approximately £112,000 a year by “stuffing 31 people into appalling conditions.”

Harsha and Chandni Shah have been subjected to a £116,000 confiscation order, while their agent Jaydipkumar Valand was made to repay £5,000.

All three defendants from the Shah family were also ordered to pay £41,000 in fines, as well as costs of £82,367 at Harrow Crown Court.



Landlord fined £14,900 for abandoning hotel

A landlord who did not repair a decaying former hotel has been fined £14,900.

Teeside Magistrates’ Court found Rajesh Kumar Gupta guilty of failing to repair roofing and guttering at the former Royal Hotel, in Loftus. He had been ordered to make the repairs repetitively by Redcar and Cleveland Council.


Gupta did not attend court and was convicted in his absence.


Andrew White, prosecuting on behalf of Redcar and Cleveland Council, said, “He was given ample warning but, unfortunately, it did not have the desired effect.”


Gupta was ordered to repair or replace the guttering and the boarding on the windows. He was further told to paint the boards to match the colour of the building, replace missing roof and ridge tiles, remove waste, litter and vegetation from the land, replace the main door frame and steps and repair all the window sills.


Gupta was subsequently ordered to pay the maximum £100 fine for every day he’d failed to carry out the repairs which came to a total of £14,900 with a victim surcharge of £170 and court costs of £408.98 – a total of £15,478,98.

Landlord taken to court over boiler and oven

A Hyndburn landlord has been given a suspended prison sentence after failing to check an unsafe boiler and gas.

Steven Ladell, from Great Harwood, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after serious faults were uncovered at a house in King’s Lynn last year.

One of his tenants had approached housing standards officials at King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Council, complaining about the state of his boiler and oven.

HSE inspectors found the boiler and oven to be in a poor state of repair and to be unsafe.

Ladell was brought to court after he failed to provide any paperwork showing routine safety checks and servicing had been undertaken.

Ladell pleaded guilty to breaching gas safety regulations and to breaching an improvement notice.

He was given a 20-week prison sentence by magistrates, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 100 hours community service.

Ladell was further ordered to pay court costs of £4,146.




Landlord banned from renting after forcing tenants to live dangerous conditions

A landlord has been banned from renting out rooms after he took advantage of vulnerable tenants.

Robert Crow, 69, is accused of letting his tenants live in filthy and dangerous conditions and failing to carry out basic maintenance.

The court heard water was left leaking through lights and tenants lived with an insanitary kitchen and tiny bedrooms filled with hoarded rubbish.

One of Crow’s tenants was forced to wash at a homeless centre because the bath and shower facilities at his own home were coated in filth.

The court heard Crow was the subject of a number of complaints by residents over several years.

Southend Magistrates found Crow guilty of 18 offences relating to the dangerous, insanitary and substandard conditions of the property.

He was fined £36,000, ordered to pay costs of £7,865.10 and a victim surcharge of £170.

He was also served a Criminal Behaviour Order preventing anyone from entering the property other than himself and his immediate family.




Landlord ordered to pay almost £40k over ‘worst property seen in ten years’

A landlord has been ordered to pay almost £40,000 over a series of safety breaches at his flats in Birmingham, described as the worst property seen by inspectors in a decade.

Birmingham city council said David Greene, 64, showed “callous disregard” for his responsibilities at the property, which was converted into ten flats.

Offences included broken, boarded-up windows, smoke detectors hanging off the ceilings, ill-fitting fire doors and blocked fire escapes.

Tenants had no access to hot water or heating.

Greene was contacted regularly by Birmingham City Council  to resolve the poor conditions.

He admitted the offences at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court and was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £1,941 costs and a victim surcharge of £170.





Landlord fined after failing to improve property

A landlord has been convicted after neglecting his property in Norwich.

Measures were taken against Nicholas Ian Shaw, 47, by Cheshire West and Chester Council after complaints from a tenant.

The flat was being rented by a family which included two young children under the age of five at the time.

Mr Shaw was asked several times to replace single-glazed windows, repair a front door that could not close, improve insufficient loft insulation and fix problems with mould in the bathroom of the property.

The council’s regulatory services officers repeatedly contacted Mr Shaw to resolve a number of problems but he failed to take all the action necessary to improve the safety or cleanliness of his property.

Mr Shaw was fined £1,500 in West Cheshire Magistrates’ Court following his failure to comply with an improvement notice served under the Housing Act 2004.

Costs of £875 and a victim surcharge of £120 increased Shaw’s court bill to £2,495.