the Experts in Property, the southwest network of independent estate agents, is turning the spotlight this week on the raft of legislation changes set for the property industry in 2024, and with it the importance for well-informed estate and lettings agents.
As the sales property market enlivens with greater supply and demand, there is more change afoot with potential price fluctuations and the re-emergence of other possible scenarios including gazumping and gazundering, all accentuating the need for experienced agents and their knowledge of the local market, trends, property values and negotiation skills.
Conversely, the buoyant lettings market is facing challenges with a lack of social housing and a gap between supply and demand in the private rented sector. The impact of taxation changes, uncertainty due to the impending Renters Reform Bill and a lack of government support for responsible landlords along with economic instability and rising costs over recent years has seen a cooling interest from buy-to-let investors and landlords decreasing their portfolios, increasing the supply-demand gap and causing rising rents and – with the industry under scrutiny – a greater need for experienced lettings agents.
This brings us to the Renters Reform Bill, which is predicted to become law in October. Described by the government as a ‘once in a generation overhaul’ of housing law, the wide-reaching reform has been the topic of much debate for a long time, hence the uncertainty amongst landlords. The Bill’s objective is to improve renting in the private sector, promising improved quality of accommodation and more security for renters with a ban on no-fault evictions and a right to have pets, while giving landlords more power to evict tenants who destroy property or do not follow agreements.
The other big legislation change set to hit the industry this year affects homeowners, buyers and sellers. The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill amends the existing leasehold-related Acts and aims to improve homeownership for millions of leaseholders by making it easier and cheaper for them to extend their lease term, purchase the freehold and own the building’s management. Under the reform, the standard lease extension term will increase from 90 years to 990 years, with zero ground rents and the two-year leaseholder requirement will be abolished. In addition, the Bill bans the sale of new leasehold houses, rebalances the current legal costs regime and sets out a maximum time and fee for the buying and selling process.
Moving with the times, The Law Society is consulting with conveyancers and solicitors about introducing a code of practice for a digital exchange of property contracts. Likely to take effect this year, The Immediate Exchange Protocol is set to modernise the process for commercial and residential property contracts and leases, which should make it quicker and more efficient.
Andrew Simmonds, chairman of the Experts in Property, said: “Such huge changes in the complex law surrounding property impacts estate and lettings agents, buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants, and only heightens the need for expertise and knowledge within the sector. This emphasises the necessity for consumers to use proficient, highly trained, and experienced professionals to sell/let their property and highlights the importance of regular training for agents to keep abreast of the ever-fluid industry.”
As part of the package of benefits for its members, the Experts in Property arranges and hosts an extensive range of professional sales and lettings training courses with some of the industry’s top trainers. Topics include everything from market appraisals and photography, through sales progression and people management, to leasehold, auctions, law and compliance, to ensure its principles and staff are among the best in the business.
For further information on membership, or to find your local branch, visit www.theexpertsinproperty.co.uk.