First thing today - the government has issued new guidance on conducting EPC assessments before issuing a certificate - and it follows the lines of other guidance given on property maintenance during the virus outbreak.
The new guidance says the legal requirement to obtain an EPC before selling or letting a property remains in place, but that EPC assessments should only be conducted in accordance with the now-familiar government advice on home moving during the virus crisis.
“Advice for people to stay at home and away from others means that you should not invite unnecessary visitors into your home, or into those you let to tenants. Where a property is occupied, parties must endeavour to agree that the transaction can be delayed, so that an EPC assessment can proceed when stay-at-home measures to fight Coronavirus are no longer in place” explains the new guideline.
But the government accepts that if moving is unavoidable and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, and a valid EPC is not available from the register an assessment may need to be conducted.
In these circumstances, government guidelines on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus must be followed.
And, of course, EPC assessments can continue in cases where a property is vacant.
You can see the full guideline here.
Next, an offer from PropTech firm Canopy.
It’s offering tenants the option to replace their cash deposits with its deposit replacement insurance policy, which it claims will provide added protection for life events - critical illness or job loss.
With the pandemic now nearing peak impact in the UK, Canopy has reduced the cost of its insurance premium. As opposed to a renter being required to pay a full five weeks rental as a cash deposit, Canopy’s premium costs 10 per cent of the amount covered - that is, 10 per cent of eight weeks ren) for a 12-month tenancy agreement, 15 per cent for a 24-month tenancy and 20 per cent for a 36-month tenancy.
Canopy’s cover also offers an extra three weeks of protection to landlords - that is, eight weeks cover as opposed to the standard five weeks with a cash deposit. Furthermore, Canopy will contribute £10 from each policy sold until the end of June 2020 to frontline NHS workers and homeless charitable organisations in support of the life-saving work currently being undertaken.
Knight Frank is an agency with a financial services division and has come up with some FAQs for owners in their 50s and above, who may now be concerned about their property and pension.
You may find it useful for some of your clients, too.
The information comes from David Forsdyke, Knight Frank's Later Life Finance expert.
- I have a mortgage that I pay from my pension income. I can still afford the payments. Should I be asking for a payment holiday?
If your finances are stable and you have no need or reason to stop then I recommend you keep paying your mortgage every month. However, if you’re starting to struggle, or have family who need some financial help over the short term, then taking a payment holiday could free up some of your income which can then be used for other things. Don’t take the decision lightly though, as the mortgage payments won’t simply disappear; your lender will want you to catch up in the future. Speak to your lender first, or visit their website, and find out how long you can stop your payments for.
- I am retired and own my own home, but I don’t have a mortgage. I’m worried about my financial position. What can I do to shore up my finances during this period of uncertainty?
If you have enough income to pay bills, buy food and other essentials, and are not struggling, then try not to worry. There is no need to do anything immediately. If however your income no longer covers your outgoings and your savings are running low, please talk to us about the range of options available. Borrowing a small amount of the wealth tied up in your property, for example, can help you through a difficult period.
- I am over 60 but still working. I am self-employed and my work has stopped. What can I do to replace my lost income?
First of all you need to look at your savings and see how long they might last. You should also check and make sure you are claiming all the benefits you’re allowed to. You can check for yourself at www.entitledto.co.uk. If you have explored all options and still need some help you could look at taking out a Lifetime Mortgage secured on your home. This could be for a very small amount to start with, but can include a drawdown facility which would help replace your income until your work starts again.
- I’m OK but I want to help my children/grandchildren who have lost their jobs or are struggling because of the pandemic. What can I do?
If you don’t have any other funds to spare (from savings or surplus income) you could look at the range of borrowing options now available for older customers who own their own property. For example, a Lifetime Mortgage would allow you to raise a small lump sum with which to help your family, or your could consider the growing range of Retirement Mortgages.