04 May 2020

The UK lockdown has been essential for containing the spread of coronavirus, but it is causing major disruption and distress, so when can it be lifted? 

There are huge decisions for the government to make, as it looks to balance saving lives today with long-term damage to society.

But as soon as the lockdown is eased, whenever that may be, there will be a major release of pent-up demand in the letting sector, according to ARLA Propertymark’s CEO David Cox. 

“There’s clearly a massive amount of pent-up demand in the market. Our message is just put everything on pause – don’t cancel it. The first Friday out of lockdown is probably going to be one of the biggest moving days in the lettings industry’s history,” he said during a webinar hosted by Goodlord yesterday.

Cox went on to caution against forgetting wider legislative changes scheduled for 2020. “Sooner or later, the government is going to go back to its normal course of business”, he warned, citing the need to be prepared for the abolition of Section 21, Electrical Safety Regulations on new tenancies – which he noted would still be coming into effect on 1 July – and the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA).

He also believes this crisis will drive further legislative change that landlords and agents must prepare for and urged the industry to be proactive. 

Cox continued: “[Post-crisis] I think they’re going to be looking at more regulation of landlords. I think we will go into a much tougher regime on property standards. We are trying to get out ahead of that with the concept of a property MOT; if we can try and shape what comes next, it’s going to be much easier for the industry to accept than to have a whole collection of laws thrown at us like we have over the past 10 years. Let’s get out in front of it, so we’re on the front foot.”

Long-term, Cox believes this crisis “is going to change the market quite significantly”, with many of the old ways and industry habits falling by the wayside as a result. 

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