Sunday, 29 March 2020

The Rights, Obligations & Responsibilities of the 3,315 Warrington Landlords & 8,189 Tenants During the Virus Outbreak





The last three or four weeks, unquestionably, have been one of the most life-changing times we have seen since WW2. The imminent threat of the Coronavirus has taken over the world, the UK and Warrington and will challenge you, our families, our relationships and test us all.

The drive of this worldwide action of social distancing is not just to stop you from getting ill with the virus; the bigger drive is to slow down the development of this virus so the NHS will not become overwhelmed with those who are most likely to need hospital care. Yet the issue of social distancing has certainly raised many questions around the landlord/tenant/agent relationship, so in this article I wanted to share with all the 3,315 Warrington landlords their rights, obligations and responsibilities to their Warrington tenants. I also wanted to highlight the rights, obligations and responsibilities of the 8,189 Warrington tenants in return.

These will be trying times for Warrington landlords and Warrington tenants alike, so let’s start

A landlord has the responsibility to ensure the property is fit for habitation, so what if the Warrington landlord/agent is incapable of undertaking an emergency repair (or say the annual gas safety check) because the tenant is self-isolating or actually has the virus? The answer is the landlord should use their best efforts to fix the problem if its an urgent repair, yet if the landlord/agent are unable to do so they should record this fact and that it is related to the Coronavirus epidemic. One should then re-try as soon as is possible and appropriate, having full respect for information on self-isolation, personal-safety and social-distancing and ensure that you make a written note for future issue. My advice is that you or your agent (as we are with our Warrington tenants) need to uphold good lines of communication with the tenants touched by these current circumstances, so they are clear on what action you are taking and the timescales for this.

Yet at the same time, there will be very few situations in the coming weeks when the contractors who the landlord/agent use will also be in self-isolation, meaning a handful of the 8,189 Warrington tenants might have to wait for repairs to be sorted. We have some excellent Warrington contractors with their own backup plans and so together we will use our best endeavours to find an alternative contractor to fix any issues. If your agent has issues, then maybe we can help – do call me. Yet whatever you do, if this occurs, document everything and that it is related to the Coronavirus epidemic.

The total rent paid by Warrington tenants
each month is £5,314,700

It’s true the UK government has demanded that building societies and banks give a three-month mortgage holiday to those landlords that are unable to make mortgage payments. This is not free cash, the mortgage payments are basically postponed with interest to be collected at the end of this crisis, meaning your obligation as a Warrington tenant to pay the rent still exists. HM Government is offering employers an 80% wage support with the furloughing to avoid having to make people redundant and the rent for your Warrington rental home will be treated in the same way as the landlord’s mortgage.

The average Warrington rental payment currently
stands at £649 per month

Therefore, if you are incapable of being able to pay your rent, it will still build up and accumulate during this virus predicament and you will need to start a payment plan to pay it back on top of your normal monthly rent. So if your rent is £649pm and you have already been living there for 2 months into a 12 month tenancy, there is still £6,490 to be paid over the next 10 months, so should you not pay anything for 3 months your rent would increase by 43% a month for the last seven months or you face eviction due to arrears (remember arrears have been put on hold – not removed during the virus outbreak). One option, subject to status and agreement by all parties, could be to renegotiate a new longer lease to pay off the arrears over a longer period. Again, the point here is communication from all sides – making sure there are no nasty surprises.

So, if you are in this predicament, there is a lot of help accessible from the HM Government including Universal Credit or Employment Support as soon as possible to escape any interruptions to your payments. Remember, your Warrington landlord will need proof of your Universal Credit or Employment Support claims to give to their mortgage company to be able to start the mortgage holiday, so my advice to all the 8,189 Warrington tenants is keep in contact with your agent to ensure your Warrington landlord doesn’t suffer any avoidable hardship (which ultimately may end up with your home being repossessed because the mortgage payments were missed because you were unable to furnish the landlord with your own claim documents).

Communication is the #1 priority here. Whilst most agent’s premises are closed including our own, all are open for telephone and email enquiries, with staff working from home. This is a fast-changing time for everybody, for the 3,315 Warrington landlords and 8,189 Warrington tenants correspondingly and we will be ever vigilant to oversee the financial and monetary backdrop in the coming months.


These are going to be tough times for the people of Warrington (and the world), financially and mentally; yet together we will come out of this stronger. By working together, working in partnership, again keeping lines of communication open with regards to your finances and your housing, by keeping safe and protecting our families and most of all by being kind to each other ... we will get through this, a little battered and bruised – yet hopefully better human beings for it?


Email me on manoj@hamletwarrington.co.uk or call on 01925 235338. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – we are based on G5, Warrington Business Park, Long Lane, WA2 8TX. There is plenty of free parking and the kettle is always on.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Warrington Property Market What is going to happen to Stamp Duty on 11th March?





If you are buying a home in England costing more than £125,000, you will have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on the purchase of your new home. In the provinces, it’s called something slightly different, so if you are buying a property in Scotland over £145,000 you will pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and for any property over £180,000 in Wales you will pay Land Transaction Tax (LTT). Whatever the tax is called, it is an important factor when moving, when you consider that

Last year the average UK house buyer paid
£10,150 in Stamp Duty Tax alone

Now as soon as the date for Rishi Sunak’s budget was set for 11th March 2020, conjecture in the Press began about what stamp duty changes he may disclose on budget day. The Chancellor only sets the budget for England and Northern Ireland, yet this is just as relevant for Wales and Scotland. Even though Derek Mackay, the Scottish Finance Secretary said on 6th February he has no plans to change Scotland’s version of Stamp Duty (LBTT), more often than not, Stamp Duty rule changes in England are often adopted in Wales and Scotland at a future date.

Some are asking if Sunak will impose what was promised in the Conservative manifesto with the 3% additional Stamp Duty surcharge on non-UK resident buyers? I have certainly heard in the Estate Agent community that foreign buyers are trying to rush through their sales in central prime London (Park Lane/Mayfair etc etc) before 11th March to ensure they don’t get hit with a new tax. Or will he go even further, and will we see a reappearance of Boris Johnson’s hitherto specified aim of eliminating Stamp Duty below £500k, consequently theoretically saving homebuyers many thousands of pounds?

However, opinions are divided on what, if anything, will be included in the budget.
Most believe that the extra 3% for foreign nationals is an almost certainty, and if it isn’t implemented straight away, it will be in the Autumn Statement. Many believe the Chancellor could also decide to repay the favour to those in the North who turned the Election map ‘blue’ on the evening of 12th December with actions to enhance the housing market north of the M62 with stamp duty changes. The best way he could do that is to raise the threshold from the current £125k.

When Boris ran for Tory leadership back in May 2019, he said that he wanted to expand the threshold at which you begin paying stamp duty from £125k to £500k, which when you consider 7 out of 8 residential sales in 2019 were for homes below £500k, that would have a considerable effect. If the Stamp Duty threshold had been raised to £500k in 2019, then 700,400 homebuyers in England would not have paid any Stamp Duty Tax.
95.9% of Warrington properties sold last year were below £500k

Of the 3,833 properties sold in the last 12 months in Warrington, only 155 of those properties sold were over £500,000 (interesting when compared with Greater London where 44.9% of properties were below the £500k level).

Yet the cost to the HM Treasury would be significant. If all properties below £500k were exempt, the government would lose £2.22bn in tax receipts according to Savills. Of course, this could be made up with extra tax on empty properties or increasing the second homes Stamp Duty levy from the current 3% to say 5%, which would raise an additional £1.12bn on top of the current £1.68bn it raises for the Treasury, yet it would have a negative effect on buy-to-let landlords buying additional homes.

What almost unquestionably won’t happen is the earlier idea of switching the Stamp Duty liability from homebuyer to home seller

this would stall the property market, would probably cause political fallout among 688,300 homebuyers who paid Stamp Duty last year alone, make homes ‘appear’ more expensive as house sellers would inflate the asking price to try and recoup some of the tax, yet ultimately could be seen as ‘re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic’.

The 3% additional levy for foreign buyers is almost certain (of which we don’t get many in Warrington – as they tend to buy in prime London areas which is of course the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and parts of the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Camden), yet I have a feeling that ultimately the Government doesn’t want to rock the boat on the wave that is being rode by the property market on the ‘Boris Bounce’ since December. I also doubt any changes will be made to first time buyer Stamp Duty relief, as 22% of all property transactions in 2019 were to first-time buyers, and whilst it cost the Treasury (or saved the first-timer buyers) a total of £539m in Stamp Duty relief (an average of £2,411 each), the Government are keen for first time buyers to get onto the housing ladder.

Ultimately, we can only wait until Mr Sunak opens his red leather box on 11th March to find out what will happen. I will of course report back after 11th of March on what (if any) changes to the tax regime will affect the Warrington property market going forward.

Email me on manoj@hamletwarrington.co.uk or call on 01925 235338. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – we are based on G5, Warrington Business Park, Long Lane, WA2 8TX. There is plenty of free parking and the kettle is always on.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.