Tenancy Deposit Protection withdrawn from unregulated agents

At the insistence of their insurers, The Tenancy Deposit Scheme will only provide deposit protection and alternative dispute resolution to letting agents who are members of recognised professional bodies.

From 6 April 2009, only regulated letting agents and corporate and individual landlords will be covered by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and cover will be withdrawn from unregulated agents. Tenants are advised to ensure their landlords have made alternative arrangements to safeguard deposits as soon as possible.

The Scheme advises landlords and tenants to be certain either that their lettings agents are members of either the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), The National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS), the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS); or that deposits are protected under one of the other Government-authorised deposit protection schemes: Tenancy Deposit Solutions (trading as mydeposits.com) or The Deposit Protection Service.

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Subsidy proposed for home-buyers

Telford and Wrekin Council is looking into a plan to offer home-buyers financial help in an attempt to kick-start the housing market.

It wants to secure Government cash to offer subsidies to home-buyers, according to the BBC 

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Bank of England cuts interest rate by 0.5% to 1.5%

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has today reduced the official rate of interest by 0.5% to 1.5%.

It is the fourth cut in as many months and the new rate is now officially the lowest in the Bank's 315-year history.

The Bank said that the world economy appeared to be undergoing an unusually sharp and synchronised downturn. Measures of business and consumer confidence had fallen markedly. World trade growth this year was likely to be the weakest for some considerable time.

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Credit crunch has silver lining – rural housing provider

The Peak District, one of the most scenic areas of Britain, has failed to escape the effects of the credit crunch.

Repossessions are rising as workers living in the area feel the pinch, according to a recent report by the Commission for Rural Communities.

"Economic inactivity" levels have increased by 40,000 in rural areas compared to 3000 in urban areas during the 12-month period ending in September 2008.

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Scots housing market still best performing in UK

The Scottish home building industry has welcomed Nationwide’s latest house price index which shows that Scotland remains the best performing part of the UK – even recording a slight seasonally adjusted increase in the last quarter of 2008 (the only part of the UK to have experienced any rise in prices for a year).

Jonathan Fair, Chief Executive of Homes for Scotland, the organisation which represents companies building 95% of the country’s new homes, said: "With Scotland also found to be the most optimistic area of the UK with over half of consumers expecting house prices to stay the same or slightly rise over the next six months, these figures demonstrate the underlying strength of sentiment within our local housing market. 

“This is especially welcome at the start of the new year and, coupled with lower interest rates, hopefully bodes well for future performance.

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1 million people ordered to court for unpaid council tax

More than a million people were summoned to court last year because they failed to pay their council tax in full, research by the Liberals Democrats has found.

A survey of more than 170 councils found that in the last year:

More than 1m people have been summoned to court for falling behind with their council tax payment;

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17% fewer residential mortgage borrowers taking variable rates

Despite the recent spate of dramatic interest rate cuts, 17% fewer residential mortgage borrowers are taking variable rates, according to statistics from Legal & General.

Its fourth report in the "Mortgage Purchase Index" series has analysed trends from data based on 18,683 mortgage applications through the Legal & General Mortgage Club from September to November 2008.

Among the findings:

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Prime country house market approaching bottom of downturn

Prices for prime country houses fell, on average, by 16% during 2008, with a fall of 9% in the final three months of the year, according to Knight Frank.

However, price falls are likely to be more limited in 2009 and buyer confidence is returning to the market as vendors have become noticeably more realistic.

Andrew Shirley, Knight Frank's head of rural property research, said: "The market for prime country property reacted more slowly to the credit crunch than other sectors of the housing market, but all that changed towards the end of last year as vendors looking to sell were forced to adjust their expectations.

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South East sees largest gain from population movements in UK

The South East experienced the largest net gain from internal migration – immigration less emigration to and from other UK regions - between 1998 and 2007 with 550,889 more moving to the region than left it, according to the Halifax.

The South West recorded the second highest level of net internal migration at 514,511.

The South East was the most popular region for people to move to from elsewhere in the UK. A total of 2.2 million moved to the South East from other regions between 1998 and 2007, 39% more than the 1.6 million who migrated to London from elsewhere in the UK.

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