By Debbie Pennell, Regional Head of Residential Lettings & Property Management

London’s rents have been dropping in recent months, no doubt underpinned by Covid-19 restrictions.

The flight from the Capital has been facilitated by a change to the previously accepted ‘norm’ of daily commuting to a centrally located office.

Many employers and employees responded to a ‘work from home’ call in the first lockdown, which resulted in a surprising outcome.

Deloitte research found that 55% of workers believe that their colleagues are just as, if not more, productive now than before lockdown. And after lockdown 61% of desk-based workers would prefer to work from home more often. We don’t have statistics on whether they thought they were more productive though! Undoubtedly there were some problems for working parents who were also home schooling, but once schools went back these eased. Also, networking, collaboration and social interaction were seen as positives of going in to an office and working with colleagues. However, it seems that employees could be relied on to work at home.

When looking to rent a property, ‘within walking distance of a London tube station’ may be lower in the search criteria, and quality of location or more space for a home office higher up the list.

Because of this, Kent is ideally positioned to benefit as both a rental destination for tenants and perfect to invest in a buy-to-let property.

Investors have also been making the most of the Chancellor’s Covid-related Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday for property up to £500,000. Latest data from Hamptons International records that nationally, landlords drove 15% of sales last month (November 2020), the highest share of sales since the run-up to the introduction of 3% SDLT on second homes in 2016.

Overlay that with the London tenant retreat and it is easy to see why Kent is popular for buy-to-let investors and that rental returns are rising due to demand and augmented by a lack of stock.

01 Caxtons

Of course, and in time, what comes around goes around. However, there is an opportunity to invest in good rental property and landlords – whether new to the sector or those who wish to extend their portfolios – would be advised to look south of the river Thames.

Currently, demand is outstripping supply with properties being let in a matter of days.

Caxtons is always looking for landlords who have available buy-to-let investments, and who are interested both in letting to reliable tenants and protecting their valuable asset – and we have good tenants with proven track records who are seeking rental property.

If you would like advice on where to buy an investment property in Kent, or on letting or managing your rental property please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01474 537733 to discuss further.

With the worst of the winter weather yet to come and many people working from home it is more important than ever to inspect your property and be prepared.

Planning for an ‘unexpected’ event may appear unrealistic, but with good management and forethought it is possible to avoid some, and manage other unforeseen scenarios before they become crises. For instance:

Plan:
Many weather conditions such as rain, ice, snow, wind and freezing temperatures, can cause damage, but will generally only result in a major problem if a property is not in good repair.

Undertaking a winter health check on your property is important and should include inspecting the guttering, roofs and water pipes, confirm the heating system is in good working order, and most importantly, ensure you have adequate insurance cover and meet all the policy conditions. If all these boxes are ticked, you should be fully covered if you do ever have to make a claim.

In addition, it is advisable to check entrances and exits and consider whether you should have sand, grit or salt available to reduce the possibility of anyone falling at or on your property. Claims for injury can be expensive, so do everything you can to protect yourself and visitors. If you own business premises and staff are working on site it is more important than ever to undertake a Risk Assessment and adhere to this advice.

Make sure everyone is aware of what you have planned and where the sand is kept – in an easily accessible place – otherwise your best intentions and preparation may all fall apart!

Flooding:
Everyone living in a flood risk area should be aware and do everything they can to prevent ingress of water. However, sometimes it is impossible.

In that eventuality it is vital to know what to do and to proceed with great care in case of contamination, electrocution or other risk.

If flooded, the policyholder must contact their insurer or broker as soon as possible so that the claim can be dealt with swiftly.

iStock 000006909815Small

The policyholder should:

  • Note the time of the incident
  • Take photos of damage wherever possible
  • Retain all items that are damaged and need repair or replacement

The insurer or broker should inform the policyholder of the clean-up process to:

  • Remove water, including foul water
  • Review any structural damage
  • Clear out damaged fixtures and fittings
  • Areas flooded with contaminated water will require disinfecting post cleaning
  • Prevent mould
  • Dry out the property
  • The insurer or broker should also commission an inspection of the property, using a Loss Adjuster to assess the claim and approve repairs / replacements under the terms of the policy.
  • Thereafter there will be communication with the policyholder regarding how and when the works will be undertaken.
  • Depending upon how severe the problem, it may be necessary for the policyholder to vacate the property for the duration of the repairs, so it is important to check that any policy would cover the costs of that eventuality.

It is important to check that you have is adequate cover.

Underinsurance was estimated at 79% in a report released earlier this year by Rebuild Cost Assessment. And based on claims made in 2015/16, Zurich believe that the cost of reinstatement following a flooding incident is between £24,000 and £46,000 – a good yardstick by which to assess whether you are fully covered.

The National Audit Office has recently revealed that flood defence funding has fallen in deprived areas, so this could cause extreme hardship.

Morag Keohane, Head of Insurance at Caxtons says “Whilst we would normally expect to be able to include flood cover in the insurance policies we arrange, this does depend on claims history and property location. However, we are always more than happy to provide quotes for consideration, so it pays to ask the question.”

If you would like to discuss any issues relating to buildings insurance then contact Morag Keohane by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or telephone 01474 537733.

Industrial and distribution property sector flourishes in Kent

The 29th Kent Property Market Report (KPMR) reveals in excess of 500,000 sq m new industrial and distribution space is either under construction or has been granted planning permission across the county, with one particularly exciting 177,000 sq m project for Panattoni, the privately-owned industrial developer, in the pipeline.

This is a welcome boost to the local economy, property sector and hopefully, an indicator of jobs to come.

Launched on Wednesday 4th at a virtual event, Caxtons Chartered Surveyors researched and compiled the Report, which was produced in partnership with Kent County Council and Locate in Kent. Invited guests dialled in to watch the launch, amongst them property professionals, investors and sector specialists.

With the end of the Brexit transition period in sight, Caxtons’ Sue Foxley presented statistics that underpin how developers, speculators and businesses have all been preparing for a new way of operating, and why Kent has found itself benefitting from its location, just 20 miles from Europe.

Coronavirus has added to the chaos and caused global disruption to trade routes and worldwide economies alike. So, a double whammy of Brexit and coronavirus on future supply chain security has been at the forefront of this increased activity, bringing welcome investment in the county and sector.

Industrial / distribution space has always been at a premium in Kent, but more so in the past year. This has driven rental growth up by 14% in the space of 12-months.

Mark Coxon, Director and Head of Commercial Agency at Caxtons said “We are encouraged by the level of activity across the industrial and distribution sector, especially in relation to what is coming on stream.

“The pandemic and lockdown has brought about a 180 degree change in consumption habits, which together with Brexit, has resulted in a greater demand and a rush to secure premises.”

Headlines:

  • Prime Business Park rents have risen 5% over the past 5-years with an annual 1% increase year-on-year. It is expected that the year ahead will prove challenging and that Covid-19 will leave its mark.
  • Kent prime office rent has grown at roughly the same rate, increasing by 30% during the last 5-years, averaging out at 5.3% annually. Due to the pandemic and a lack of rental evidence the picture reflects data up to Q1 2020 and presents a stable market with, at that time, no great movement up or down.
  • Covid-19 has proved extremely challenging for the retail sector, which has suffered in Kent as it has elsewhere in the country, although according to the Report, average prime Zone A retail rent has increased 0.5% year-on-year, over the last 5 years.
  • Where the rural landscape is concerned, and according to information from Savills, they have seen a 50% Increase on pre-lockdown levels of website traffic searching for farms and estates in Kent.
  • National residential sector values recorded an all-time high in August (Nationwide house price index) and this was confirmed by the Royal Institution of Chartered
    Surveyors in their Residential Market Survey – no-doubt helped by the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday for properties to £500K. Kent has seen some price growth with the best performance reflected in Dover, which saw a12-month increase of 2.1%. Rural areas in Kent, as elsewhere, have proved popular.
  • Residential construction has recorded a number of new developments obtaining planning permission – which bodes well for the future - with more than 2,000 homes now completed at Ebbsfleet Garden City.

 

In summary Ron Roser, Chairman of Caxtons, was sanguine saying there was reason for optimism “...with investor confidence in logistics and distribution, healthcare and life sciences – all these industries are bucking the trend in Kent and beyond.”

Click on 2020 Kent Property Market Report for a flip book version or download a pdf of the full report.

Mark Coxon can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone on 01622 234886.

KPMR front cover