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House prices drop for the first time this year, says Rightmove

Asking prices for homes have dropped for the first time this year, down £4,795, because of a summer lull in activity, says sales portal Rightmove.

Although interest rates are rising - which would increase the cost of a mortgage - it said seasonal factors were key to the drop in prices.

The typical asking price fell by 1.3% between July and August to £365,173.

The last two years had been "frenzied" in the UK housing market, said Rightmove.

Prices soared as the pandemic prompted many people to search for more space in which to live and work.

How big an impact the rising cost of living, and consistent increases in interest rates, will have on the housing market will be watched closely.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove's director of property science, said: "A drop in asking prices is to be expected this month, as the market returns towards normal seasonal patterns after a frenzied two years, and many would-be home movers become distracted by the summer holidays."

The 1.3% drop in August was in line with the average drop seen that month over the past 10 years, Rightmove said.

"We are still expecting price changes for the rest of the year to continue to follow the usual seasonal pattern, which means we'll end year at around 7% annual growth, even with the wider economic uncertainty," Mr Bannister added.

 

He said that data showed the rising interest rates were yet to have a significant impact on the number of people wanting to move home.

"For those looking to move who are concerned about interest rate rises, it's important that they get a mortgage in principle early on in their moving journey to understand what they could afford to borrow, and find out about the rates available to them to assess what they are able to repay each month," he said.

The average five-year fixed rate mortgage has now breached 4%, according to Moneyfacts.co.uk, but experts expect rates to climb further.

The biggest risk to making mortgage repayments is usually the loss of a job, but anyone in that position should get help, at least in the short-term, from their lender.

Debt advisors say anyone in financial trouble should talk to their mortgage provider as soon as possible.

 

source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-62549477

 

Two indicators slowdown already under way after Bank of England warns of 15-month recession

The bank rate is now at its highest level since 2008 as the Bank of England warns of tough times ahead - but signs of slowdown are already there.

Just a day after the Bank of England warned of a 15-month recession, there are signs in housing and recruitment that the slowdown is already well under way.

Figures out on Friday showed that house prices fell in July (in monthly terms) for the first time in more than a year, with warnings that the market is likely to weaken further following the bank's hiking of interest rates from 1.25% to 1.75%.

 

The bank rate is now at its highest level since 2008, as the bank tries to fight inflation which is running at 9.4% - well above its 2% target - and is forecast to pass 13% later this year.

It comes as households face record-breaking increases in energy bills, and mortgage lender Halifax said that this rapidly-spiralling cost of living would have its effect on the market, as buyers look to rein in spending.

In July the average house price stood at £293,221 - down £365 or 0.1% from the previous month's record high. In annual terms, however, prices still rose by 11.8%, compared to the 12.5% seen in June.

Russell Galley, Halifax managing director, said: "House prices are likely to come under more pressure as those market tailwinds fade further and the headwinds of rising interest rates and increased living costs take a firmer hold.

"Therefore a slowing of annual house price inflation still seems the most likely scenario."

It comes after a report from rival lender Nationwide which showed house prices rose in July, but at the slowest monthly pace seen in a year.

source: https://news.sky.com/story/two-indicators-slowdown-already-under-way-after-bank-of-england-warns-of-15-month-recession-12665852

Sweeping changes to rental market proposed - affecting pets, rent rises and 'no-fault' evictions

The government says the new blueprint for renters reform will "redress the balance" between landlords and the estimated 4.4million private tenants in England.

Plans to ban "no-fault" evictions and to make it easier for tenants to keep pets will be unveiled as part of the government's new deal for private renters.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is set to publish its fairer private rented sector white paper, which it describes as "the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in 30 years".

 

Among the proposals to be unveiled on Thursday are a pledge to outlaw section 21 "no-fault" evictions that allow landlords to terminate tenancies without giving a reason.

More than a fifth of private renters who moved in 2019 and 2020 did not end their tenancy by choice, figures suggest, including 8% who were asked to leave by their landlord.

These types of eviction notices are contentious and the government promised to ban them three years ago.

The department has also promised to change the rules to make it easier to own a pet in rented accommodation, with the white paper stating that landlords "must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse" requests by all tenants to keep an animal in their home.

 

The new deal will also extend the decent homes standard to the private sector for the first time, meaning homes must be free from serious health and safety hazards, and landlords must keep homes in a good state of repair so renters have clean, appropriate and usable facilities.

source: https://news.sky.com/story/plan-to-ban-no-fault-evictions-unveiled-by-govt-and-it-could-get-easier-to-own-a-pet-if-youre-renting-12634583

Commercial Property Law

Commercial Property law:

*Property purchases and sales

*Leases acting for landlord and or tenant

*Forfeiture

*Licences for assignment/alteration

*Tenancies/Licences at will

Code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel in England

We are pleased to introduce the revised code of practice for health and social care organisations in England, that are recruiting personnel internationally.

Internationally trained staff have been part of the National Health Service (NHS) since its inception in 1948 and continue to play a vital role. 16% of nurses and 36% of doctors in England trained outside of the United Kingdom (UK). Similarly, the social care sector employs 35% of nurses and 16% of all social care workers from beyond the UK. Our gratitude to all those who come from abroad to train, learn and work in our fantastic NHS and social care sector has never been greater, as we face the global COVID-19 pandemic together. Thank you.

Yet this government knows we need to do more so that our health and social care services continue to deliver world-class care. That is why we have committed to 50,000 more nurses and 50,000,000 more GP appointments. We are working hard to increase our homegrown supply of health and social care staff. We are training more, retaining more and encouraging staff who have left to return. But we know that ethical international recruitment is also crucial for achieving our commitments.

We are determined to be a force for good in the world, which includes supporting better health and care beyond our shores. This code of practice is part of the UK’s contribution to international health worker mobility that offers benefits to migrants, their country of origin and to the UK. With a projected 18 million more health workers needed to achieve universal health coverage in low and lower-middle income countries – we need to work on a global basis to support healthier and more resilient populations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the reality that diseases know no borders. It is absolutely right that we work with the countries that have the most vulnerable health systems to protect their health and social care systems. It is also right that, alongside these safeguards, we draw on our strengths to help develop health workforces and health systems in other countries – and in doing so, help the world progress towards delivering universal health coverage and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Forming international partnerships is a great way to foster collective efforts across the world, and by working with international governments we can make sure everyone benefits.

We are committed to upholding the highest ethical standards in international recruitment and this new code implements the World Health Organisation (WHO) global code of practice. Through this we are ensuring the fundamental principles of transparency, fairness and promotion of health systems sustainability are fully embedded in all international recruitment activity undertaken in the UK.

Helen Whately MP Minister of State for Care

Wendy Morton MP Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

read more - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-practice-for-the-international-recruitment-of-health-and-social-care-personnel/code-of-practice-for-the-international-recruitment-of-health-and-social-care-personnel-in-england

Settled status: EU citizens urged apply to stay in UK now or lose rights

EU citizens living in the UK have until Wednesday to apply to stay or lose their rights, under post-Brexit rules introduced by the government.

More than 5.6 million applications have been received, but around 400,000 cases are still waiting to be processed.

Ministers say anyone who applies on time will have their existing rights protected while their case is heard.

Labour says many vulnerable people risk losing access to public services and the deadline should be extended.

Under the terms of Britain's departure from the European Union, EU citizens and their families living and working in the UK no longer have an automatic right to do so as freedom of movement has come to an end.

Instead, they have to apply for legal permission to remain under what is known as the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

People from the European Economic Area (EEA) countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as Switzerland are also affected.

Once granted status, applicants can continue to use the NHS, study and access public funds and benefits, as well as travel in and out of the country.

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What is settled status?

EU nationals living in the UK have until 30 June to apply to stay in the UK.

They can apply for:

  • Settled status - on offer to anyone who can prove that they had been in the UK continuously for five years or more before 31 December 2020. As of 31 May, it has been granted to 2.75 million people.
  • Pre-settled status - on offer to anyone who had been in the UK for less than five years by the end of 2020. As of 31 May, it has been granted to 2.28 million. They can apply for settled status in future, but there is no guarantee they will get it.

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According to provisional Home Office figures to the end of May, 5,605,800 applications have been received since the scheme opened in March 2019 and 5,271,300 have been finalised.

The countries whose nationals have made the highest numbers of applications are Poland (975,000) and Romania (918,000).

Of the concluded applications, more than 2.7 million were granted settled status, allowing them permanent leave to remain in the UK.

A further 2.2 million were given pre-settled status, meaning they need to reapply after living in the country for five years to gain permanent residence.

Some 94,000 applications have been refused, 72,100 were withdrawn or void and 74,900 were deemed invalid - where the Home Office decides someone is not eligible to apply or has failed to provide sufficient proof of residence.

Concerns have been raised that thousands of people could fail to register and lose their rights as a result.

Miklos Flora, who lives in Worcester but is originally from Hungary, told Radio 4's PM programme that he has struggled with his application.

He said he applied for himself with his Hungarian ID card but then realised his wife's card had expired and he could not proceed with their application as a result.

"With my kids, the problem is they don't have any kind of ID cards so I have been advised from the Citizen's Advice they are going to send me a form that is around 39 pages that we have to fill out and then send by post," he told PM.

2px presentational grey line Analysis box by Dominic Casciani, home and legal correspondent

Come Thursday morning, most experts agree that it is highly likely there will be tens if not hundreds of thousands of EU citizens who have suddenly become illegal immigrants.

So, at its worst, the relatively straightforward scheme could become a second and larger Windrush scandal - despite it being designed to avoid a repeat of that injustice in which the Home Office failed to recognise the rights of people who had long been living legally in the country.

So who's not registered? Children could be a huge group because their parents may not realise they are not British.

There may be 130,000 in the benefits system too - and there is anecdotal evidence that even some of the well-heeled may be affected if they are unwittingly relying on an old form of permanent residence.

The impact of Brexit on all these people, and others more vulnerable, may only become clear when they go for a job or treatment on the NHS - and find they've got no right to be in the UK at all.

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Labour's Paul Blonfield, who raised the issue in the House of Commons earlier, said there are "several potential problems" not least a significant number of late applications, including from those who cannot get through on helplines.

Speaking to Radio 4, he said he has heard from people who have been holding for eight hours for advice and face losing their status and their rights.

And he said there are particular concerns about children about in care with applications not made for about 1200 young people.

"I pressed for the government to do what other European countries have done in relation to UK citizens and that's recognise that we are going through a global pandemic and extend the deadline so these issues can get sorted out," he said.

"We need to actively reach out" to those people who have not applied he said "because they are the hard to reach groups - those people with language difficulties, perhaps people in care, young people in social care," he added.

Immigration minister Kevin Foster said "the overwhelming majority" of people have now applied and "there are provisions for late applications where people have reasonable grounds for making one".

"We will take a practical and compassionate approach to those who haven't applied particularly where there may be vulnerabilities or obvious reasonable grounds such as children whose parents may not have applied for them."

He said if people have any concerns about their status come the 1st of July "the message is simple - don't delay, apply today".

There is "a range of grant funded support organisations that will help people apply and we have an assisted digital service that people can use if needed" he added.

Source: - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-57657520

 

Right to Buy: buying your council home

Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Discounts
  3. Applying
  4. Your landlord's offer
  5. Appeals
  6. Delays
  7. Selling your home
  8. Help and advice

Overview

Right to Buy allows most council tenants to buy their council home at a discount. Use the eligibility checker on the Right to Buy website to find out if you can apply.

There are different rules for WalesScotland and Northern Ireland.

You can apply to buy your council home if:

  • it’s your only or main home
  • it’s self-contained
  • you’re a secure tenant
  • you’ve had a public sector landlord (for example, a council, housing association or NHS trust) for 3 years - it does not have to be 3 years in a row

Joint applications

You can make a joint application with:

  • someone who shares your tenancy
  • up to 3 family members who’ve lived with you for the past 12 months (even if they do not share your tenancy)

Ex-council homes

If your home used to be owned by the council, but they sold it to another landlord (like a housing association) while you were living in it, you may have the Right to Buy. This is called ‘Preserved Right to Buy’.

Ask your landlord if this applies to you.

Other ways to buy your home

If you were not living in your home when it was sold by the council you may still be able to buy it through the Voluntary Right to Buy pilot.

source: https://www.gov.uk/right-to-buy-buying-your-council-home

Covid: What are my money-back rights for holidays abroad?

The government is expected to lift some restrictions on overseas holidays in the next few days.

But with Covid still widespread, tourists will have to think carefully about their financial protection.

Where will I be able to go on holiday?

England will soon release a list of "green list" destinations, where people can travel without having to quarantine on their return (although they will have to take tests).

All other countries will be rated amber or red, and travellers will still need to quarantine after visiting them.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not said when they might allow foreign travel.

Can I cancel my holiday if I would need to self-isolate?

There is always a risk that a green-list country could move to the amber or red list, although the government says it will give notice.

If that happened you would need to quarantine after the holiday - something that could be difficult for many people.

Operators do not have to refund you if this happens and you unexpectedly have to self-isolate on your return.

It is best to study their policies before booking, or see whether they can offer some support if you have already booked and want to cancel.

Will I be refunded if my holiday is cancelled?

If the government announces that travel to a particular country is not advised, then airlines and travel companies are likely to cancel any pre-booked flights or holidays there.

If this happens, you are entitled to a full refund, and you can choose to receive that refund in cash.

An airline should refund the money within seven days, although some people have had to wait longer.

A package holiday should be refunded, in full, within 14 days.

What if I make a decision that it's too risky to travel?

This is far less clear-cut. If you cancel, rather than the travel provider doing so, then you have no automatic right to a refund.

In this situation, it is worth contacting the airline or holiday provider to see what options you have.

Some may allow you to transfer to another date or destination, they may give you a voucher, or they may allow you to cancel and get a refund.

Will travel insurance cover me if I get Covid?

Travel insurers are offering different levels of cover. In part, this depends on how much you pay for a policy.

The majority will pay out if you test positive for Covid and have to cancel before you travel.

In most other Covid-related scenarios, only a minority of policies will give you financial cover, according to analysis by data specialists Defaqto.

For example, if a positive or missed Covid test stops you from boarding a flight back to the UK, only about one in 10 policies will cover you for costs.

If the Foreign Office advises against travel to a country, then all but a handful of travel insurance policies would be invalid.

Graphic - travel insurance policy cover during Covid

Why is this so complicated?

The rules are going to be fairly complex, given that the risk of Covid varies so much between different countries.

The government says it will publish a charter "that clearly sets out consumer rights and responsibilities when booking travel while Covid-19 measures remain in place".

It also says it expects travel operators to be "flexible" with customers given the circumstances.

 

source:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51615412

Value of private property hits record level as equity release deals surge

With the value of private property on the rise, there are a number of equity release products available. This can help fund retirements and further investment for people aged 55 or older.

For the first time, the total value of UK private property surpassed £6trn, according to a report from the Equity Release Council. This happened near the end of last year as market activity recovered following the first COVID-19 lockdown. Discounting any mortgage debt, the amount of private property equity reached a record £4.6trn.

Regular mortgage repayments are below pre-COVID levels. This is likely due to those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. However, mortgage-holders still made £5.1bn worth of overpayments in the last quarter of 2020. Mortgage overpayments even topped about £192m per day. This shows that some households were able to put more savings towards paying their home off quicker.

Equity release options rising

Equity release can be used to free up some of the cash from properties and is available to those aged 55 and over. This involves releasing a lump sum of money from the property or taking out smaller amounts at a time. In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of people taking equity out of their existing home to invest in another property.

The number of products available in the equity release market increased to a record high. In the second half of last year, 100 new products were added to make 488 in total. This is over double the number of products available two years prior. Additionally, access to retirement interest-only mortgages improved in 2020 with over 100 products available for the first time.

David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council, says: “After the unprecedented upheaval of early 2020, the equity release market showed signs of recovery as households and businesses remained resilient against a challenging backdrop.”

Retirement planning

Property can play an important role in retirement planning. Often property investment is viewed as one of the top additions or alternative to a pension. Some pensions are starting to decrease in real terms. Many people on the verge of retirement are beginning to consider all the options available to them. And property investment comes out on top when investing for the long term.

Some retirees are using equity release as a way to free up money for retirement. Many have benefitted from the drawdown after seeing significant capital appreciation in their homes over the years.

“Accessing property wealth will play a vital role in retirement planning, both now and in the years to come,” he states. “For today’s retirees, it can make the difference between making ends meet or enjoying a more comfortable lifestyle by boosting their pension income, improving or adapting their homes life and paying for domestic care support.

“For younger generations, it can open up the possibility of receiving a ‘living inheritance’ to support their own financial goals, such as getting on the property ladder.”

Increasing property wealth

Long-term property investment is continuing to provide strong gains for many property owners and investors. In the UK, property tends to increase in value of time. This means the longer you own a property the higher your returns will likely be. Compared to historically low savings rates, property is a long-term asset providing a much higher level of stability.

According to research by Savills, the total value of the UK’s housing stock hit a record high of £7.56trn. Despite the challenging past year due to the pandemic, house prices have increased rapidly. And long-term outlook for investment in the UK property market remains positive for the coming years.

David Burrowes comments: “Property wealth ranks second only to pensions in terms of its importance to household finances across the country. The transformation of later life mortgage products in recent years has given people more opportunities to access property wealth at affordable rates.”

Source: https://www.buyassociation.co.uk/2021/04/26/value-of-private-property-hits-record-level-as-equity-release-deals-surge/

March is Free Wills Month!

Free Wills Month brings together a group of well-respected charities to offer members of the public aged 55 and over the opportunity to have their simple Wills written or updated free of charge by using participating solicitors in locations across England, Scotland and Wales.

The solicitors have all taken steps to help keep you safe from coronavirus.

An up to date Will written by a solicitor ensures your wishes are respected. It also avoids difficult decisions and legal complications for your loved ones. Free Wills Month allows you to provide for family and friends and leave a gift to your chosen charities too.A gift in your Will costs you nothing now but can make a difference for years to come.To take part in Free Wills Month please scroll down and fill in a few details and click submit, we'll only contact you about this Free Wills Month campaign (unless you choose further contact from the charities), you will then get access to the details of your local participating law firms.

Source: - https://freewillsmonth.org.uk/

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