As nearly 118,000 divorces were registered in England and Wales in 2011 (the last year for which figures are available), and January 3rd being dubbed as ‘National Divorce Day’ among legal professionals, two Derby lettings agents are seeing a real impact on the lettings market as a direct result.
According to The office for National Statistics, 42 per cent of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce, so it stands to reason that this will have a knock on effect on the rentals market- Something that Daniel Clarke, owner of Kirk and Clarke Properties, claims should be approached with a clear head.
The Ilkeston based lettings agent has seen a 10 per-cent increase in the amount of properties entering the buy to let market, and puts this down to the fact that many more homeowners are going through separation and divorce after the festive period, with many wanting a quick exit from any property ties they may hold with their partner.
Daniel (27) said: “Relationship freezes take place throughout November and December, as many couples vow to stay together during the Christmas period. Subsequently, we are finding that we then have an increase of lettings being brought to the rentals market in January.
“These ‘accidental landlords’ as we call them have entered the buy to let market solely due to a series of circumstances and in many cases are unaware of what is expected of them as a landlord, or indeed have a grasp on the complex regulatory issues, and what is expected of them by law. This can result in increased void periods, costly fines, or in the worst case scenario a lengthy prison sentence.”
This was a view echoed by Donna Batchelor, director of Batchelor Pads Lettings based in Derby city centre.
Donna said: “Renting a property out is the ideal solution to a Christmas break up, because it provides a fast get out for many who wish to go their separate ways, without the long periods of time associated with selling a property.
“We have seen an influx in the number of tenants seeking one bedroom flats, and in the amount of DIY landlords coming to the lettings market for the very first time following a break up or divorce.
“Last week we heard from a landlord who was struggling to come to terms with the sudden break down of his marriage over Christmas and he was originally considering selling the property. We worked with him to turn his current mortgage into a buy to let mortgage, and after giving him a variety of options, he decided to undertake a fully managed service with us.
“Daniel is right in saying that many landlords new to the market are unaware of their legal responsibilities and can fall way short of the mark. Going through a break up can be a very stressful time, especially if children are involved, and the last thing anyone needs is a property to maintain, inspections to undertake and rent to chase from tenants.”
In the case of a Christmas break up, legal experts are advising that any financial matters should be completed prior to the decree absolute being pronounced, but with the recent cuts in legal aid, many people who would have been eligible for a divorce under the legal help scheme, no longer are, forcing them to stay married until financial situations change.
Daniel, from Kirk and Clarke added: “Many couples we talk to cannot afford a costly divorce so they instead try to separate other assets and ties as quickly as they can outside of court. One of the first ties to go seems to be any property ties, which may also account for the influx of properties coming to the market in January and February each year. Luckily we are now renting our properties out in an average of just seven days, meaning that living arrangements can be sorted out very quickly if required.”
Donna from Batchelor Pads Lettings continued: “We offer both a fully managed service and tenant find service for any first time landlords coming to the market, and we can guide them in the right direction with free and impartial advice.”