Property News: November Summary

To celebrate our new followers, whether landlords, investors, developers or just interested in what we’ve got to say – we’ve put together a weekly round up of property related news.

If you’ve got anything you think could be worthwhile putting in then get in touch at info@heatongroup.co.uk

Landlord blocking out the sunlight

An article in the Metro last month showed what can happen when an unruly landlord decides to take full advantage of the space in front of their property.

19 Households were effectively blocked from natural sunlight when there was a large (and we mean large) banner erected directly in front of a block of flats in London. The issue we noticed when reading this was that it was put up THREE YEARS ago without any sort of notice and each time they’ve raised concerns they’ve been dismissed.

Residents have claimed the Landlord has stated that they’re not bothered about the concerns of residents and that the company who owns the area can put up what they want. Residents are saying that there is literally no light able to make it into the properties and that they have to keep their windows open to avoid claustrophobia.

These properties cost upwards of £257 per week. The buildings themselves are in a state of disrepair – there are cracked windows and rotting window frames. Perhaps this was an effort to hide from the outside world that state of the property and avoidance of repairing it?

Since being reported on 17th November in the Metro – it now looks like the banner was removed. Personally, we think that the property DOES need a little renovation, but given the prices of property in London right now – perhaps it would be best left to the landlord doing their job rather than anyone else.

The Human Warehouses or “Rabbit Hutches”

We know that a popular method of regeneration is to take former disused commercial space and redeveloping or re-purposing that into habitable spaces. This isn’t exclusive to office space, often churches have been converted, former bars, pubs and shops such as Johnson Square are often combined into one larger development. Often, these will be beautiful living areas, exceptional examples of how a property can retain it’s charm and original vigour – but provide real world functionality at affordable prices in an area needing regeneration.

Not so for this former office space in London.

Office block london

Alexandra House in London is part of a proposed redevelopment into 219 “flats”. We’ve put flats in quotation marks as we strongly believe that it’s a stretch to call them that. They’re broom cupboards in comparison to what we would consider a habitable living area. Some of the properties will be 13 ft x 13 ft as a result of “Permitted Development Rights” meaning that planning permission doesn’t need to be applied for – merely intent stated, allowing the development company to circumnavigate the requirements to put their proposals in front of people who may object.

This led us to ask the question – is demand high enough to provide this type of low-quality living to tenants? We’ve always considered ourselves extremely fair when creating properties in this way. In a building of a similar size at Stone Cross House in Bolton we’ve converted that into 61 apartments. That makes the smallest flat an average of 3 x the size of these (and no doubt somewhere in 3 x less price given London property rates). Even if we could achieve the same property prices as in London, we wouldn’t jeopardise the quality of our housing for tenants just to make more money.

219 flats

The problem is with developments like this is that it highlights the disparity in Property in London and Property in the North West. There’s traffic/noise pollution to contend with in London, the fact that many these properties won’t receive any sunlight (for different reasons than the previous story) and the requirement for kitchen provision and statutory food storage would leave little room for living or sleeping. All said and done, it’s a box!

So, what’s the answer? Demand clearly exists, or the billionaire property owner wouldn’t be considering making this move. But surely this is madness? There are a growing number of people who are looking to live outside of London and commute in. They save on their rent/property and for a smaller amount per year than the cost of the property, commute in via train or bus. London itself has a fantastic lifestyle and the reasons to live there are obvious – but at what cost?

The Election looms

You may have seen our guide to property investment around Brexit – but as that didn’t happen, it seems we’ve been pushed into another period of uncertainty with the general election on 13th December.


Property is typically a resilient market; it always has been – barring a few blips in the last 30 years. There are noises coming out of each party that there will be some pressure put on private landlords to perform a “Property MOT” each year to ensure houses are up to scratch. There’s already been taxes placed on second homes of 3% which has pushed up prices, while there are also requirements to register with HMRC for overseas landlords to pay tax on their income.

Property itself has always been a safe investment due to the resilient nature of the market. It’s not likely that there will be much change in the market, regardless of who has the keys to number 10. There will however no doubt be much more importance placed on the landlords to provide a much higher quality of property to tenants and stricter laws to ensure this happens.

That’s a big reason why we provide our own in-house lettings service. This takes the stress out of owning a property for landlords and means that we’ll manage the property for you. If there is new legislation, we’ll be following it to the letter. Our property portfolio allows us to operate at scale too, meaning that landlords can sit back and relax knowing that everything is taken care of.

There is also a plan from Labour to move part of the treasury up to the north to shift economic gravity from London. Naturally, London has a larger economy than the rest of the UK, however the plans are to spread resources more evenly across UK cities, starting with the North West. We’re politically impartial so we can’t say if this is a good thing or not, but what it could do is boost the amount of jobs and demand for property in the area.

If you’ve enjoyed this slightly different approach from us, then please do let us know or if you have anything you think is newsworthy then please get in touch: info@heatongroup.co.uk


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