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Friday 15th November 2019

Brexit: how landlords could be quids in

Brexit
Brexit: And then there were 27

I received a text message from my landlord a couple of weeks ago – an event that always fills me with dread…

‘Dear all residents’, it began. Nice. Personal.

‘We would like to inform you that we will be gaining access to all the flats tomorrow or Thursday as we have surveyors visiting’. Surveyors. SHIT.

I took a deep breath and continued reading…

‘We cannot give you a time slot or a guaranteed day as to when your flat will be visited as it all depends on how the schedule of the work goes on each day’.

This is fairly typical of my landlord. And I’m not entirely sure where the legality lies on this point. I know landlords have the right to enter their property so long as 24 hours written notice is provided.

Tenants are entitled to live in a property without interference from the landlord.

You could argue that this condition has been met here – but you could also counter that simply saying someone might pop round at some point on Wednesday or Thursday, is wholly inadequate provision of notice. There’s a wonderfully worded, but frustratingly vague, allowance in common law called ‘the covenant for quiet enjoyment’.

This doesn’t mean you have legal right to compensation if your neighbour blasts out Celine Dion’s Greatest Hits at all hours of the night. What it means is that tenants are entitled to live in a property without interference from the landlord or anyone acting on their behalf.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to take my landlord to court because he’s been a bit unexplicit in his appointment making. I’m not a dick. But it’s something to bear in mind if your landlord really is taking the piss.

Anyway, that’s an aside.

Here’s the crunch.

‘Please do not be alarmed as this is only for mortgage purposes’.

Well thanks for the reassurance.

Remember, this was pre-Brexit (ah, those Halcyon days). There was much talk in the media of what might happen to property prices and interest rates if we were to leave the EU and the economy tanked. ‘The landlord’s probably just looking to prepare himself ‘, I thought. ‘It’s important to be prepared.’

I’m not hopeful that Brexit is going to lead to an improvement in my own personal finances.

But now that the unthinkable has actually happened, it all suddenly feels a whole lot more scary.

Now, there’s no point getting carried away at this point – everything is completely up in the air at the moment, and we’re all going to have to wait to see how things land – but let’s just say I’m not hopeful that Brexit is going to lead to an improvement in my own personal financial circumstances

But one person who may be laughing all the way to the bank is my landlord – received wisdom is that uncertainty and volatility will lead consumers to curb spending, leading to fewer people committing to home purchasing, resulting in depressed home valuations.

Fewer people will want to sell, as it will be harder to trade up if the value of their property has fallen, leading to a potential freeze in the market. This will mean even more people staying in rented accommodation, creating a lack of supply that will push prices up.

Clever Mr Landlord was probably looking for a view on exactly what sort of increase he could get away with applying to my monthly rent when it comes time to renew my contract in October.

We’re already in the midst of a housing crisis in this country. An article in the Evening Standard suggested a quarter of London flat-sharers are so hard up that a rent rise of just £25 a month would force them to seek alternative accommodation. And this is by no means just a London-centric issue.

A recent report by Shelter has found that 350,000 renters around the country are at risk of eviction due to soaring rental prices.

I wonder what Brexit will mean for this – and I worry how much worse things are going to get before they get better.

Pic credit: ‘EU Weeps’ by Paul Toxopeus

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Andrew Williams

Andrew Williams

Mouthy Blogger

Runner, tired of London but not life. Waging war on landlords.

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