It’s been a while since my last blog post, rents have rocketed, house prices have rocketed, the government has increased taxes to landlords and landlords are now doing the job of immigration officers.
We’ve been mulling over the changes in the office and I thought I’d I would share with you that conversation, my Crawley property Blog reading friends. People are always going to need a roof over their heads and somewhere to live will never go out of fashion – it’s a necessity for every single person. The 22 to 30 year olds of the town have a choice to what type of roof they have ... they rent from the Council, they can rent from a private landlord or finally they can get a mortgage and buy one. In the 1970’s/80’s and 90’s, the expected thing was to save like mad for two years for the deposit (going without luxuries) whilst living at home or renting a cheap two up two down, then buy your first house. However, more recently fewer Crawley youngsters have been buying, choosing to rent instead – mainly from private landlords (as Councils have been selling off council housing on the Right to Buy Schemes). The numbers are truly staggering ... and I want to share them with you.
Roll the clock back 20 years and Crawley was a different place. There were 35,201 households in Crawley and 20,631 of those were owner occupied. Move to the present, and with all the building in the town, the total number of households has increased by 21.9% to 42,925 and quite surprising (to me at least), the number of owner-occupiers has increased to 25,303 (although as a proportion, it is only 58.9% compared to 58.6% twenty years ago).
However, it’s rented sector that is truly fascinating … twenty years ago, only 1,535 properties were privately rented in Crawley ... and now its 6,921, a rise of 5,386.
The twentysomethings of Crawley housing difficulties haven’t been helped by the local authority selling off council housing, with the number of council houses dropping from 10,320 to 7,950 over the same twenty-year period. Demand for decent rented property remains high, as Cameron’s much vaunted house building program is years away and has decades of under investment to catch up on before it starts to affect demand. Even with the Buy to Let tax rule changes over the coming few years (which will see the maximum tax relief available to landlords drop from 45% to 20%), private landlords still have an important role to play in housing the people of Crawley and those who educate themselves and treat it as a business will survive and prosper.
The best way Crawley landlords can protect their income from property (and mitigate the affects of the tax rises) is to keep the homes they let out in Grade A condition. I have found, especially over the last three or four years, Crawley tenants have ever growing demands from their rental property, but many are prepared to pay ‘top dollar‘ for houses and apartments that meet their high expectations. You must not forget, letting property in Crawley (in fact anywhere) is a business, so all private landlords should also seek the advice, opinion and commentary of property professionals.
What of the news of Stamp Duty changes for Landlords coming in April? My thoughts are with such low supply (i.e. numbers of property for sale), and high demand it is hard to imagine Crawley property values will see much impact – but I predict, ever so slightly, the proportion of owner occupiers should increase slightly compared to buy to let landlords in the coming decade as the the housing market should return to balance. For any help or advice you can reach me and my team at the Martin & Co office in Crawley.