Three-tier system after lockdown 2: what will the “tougher” coronavirus measures mean for the property market?

With the national lockdown in England lifting on 2 December, we explain what impact the government's strengthened tiered system could have if you’re trying to buy or sell a home.

Boris Johnson has announced plans for England to return to a three-tier system to combat the Covid-19 pandemic once national lockdown ends on 2 December.

Speaking to Parliament via video link on Monday, Johnson said: “We are going to go back to a regional tiered approach, applying the toughest measures where Covid is most prevalent.

“And while the previous local tiers did cut the R number, they were not quite enough to reduce it below 1, so the scientific advice, I am afraid, is that our tiers need to be made tougher.”

What the different tiers mean:

Tier 1 - medium alert

Tier 2 - high alert

Tier 3 - very high alert

The good news is that under the government’s new advice, the housing market remains open for business, whether you’re buying, selling, renting or letting.

Across the board, estate agents remain open and physical property viewings are allowed, with comprehensive advice on how to follow social distancing guidelines inside homes.

And others in the housing market, such as conveyancers, tradespeople, and professional movers, can continue to operate too.

It’s worth remembering that Zoopla, like other property portals, is open 24/7. That means you can do a lot of your property search online, from exploring our news, guides and insights, and checking out the prices of recently sold properties, to registering to get instant alerts for exactly your type of property - and save as many searches as you want.

Richard Donnell, our head of research and insight, said: “We’ve already seen how the first lockdown led to people carrying out a once-in-a-lifetime re-evaluation of their homes and lifestyles, with a focus on prioritising space. And the latest restrictions will continue to support this trend – particularly for those who are more financially secure.”

Meanwhile, the stamp duty holiday is continuing to act as an incentive for buyers to complete a purchase before the tax break ends on 31 March 2021.

However, with different regions in different tiers, it’s a good idea to find out how your local housing market is operating in a Covid-19-secure way.

Tier 1 - medium alert

In tier one areas, all businesses and venues can continue to operate in a Covid-secure way, other than those that are currently closed by law, such as nightclubs.

Schools, universities and places of worship can remain open, and indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place. People must not meet in groups of more than six either indoors or outdoors, other than where a legal exemption applies, such as for a wedding or funeral

Find full details and the latest government guidance here.

What does tier 1 mean for the property market? 

Tier one essentially means business as usual for the property market, but with as many safety restrictions in place as possible.

Can I view properties in a tier 1 area?

Yes.

Property viewings can continue to happen with Covid-secure measures in place.

Such measures include the wearing of face coverings, regular hand washing, keeping doors and windows open for good ventilation during the viewing, and only two prospective buyers from the same household entering the property at a time.

Sellers and estate agents may choose to wait outside the property or decide not to be present while viewings are undertaken.

Open house viewings are not allowed at this time.

If any member of either the household whose home is being viewed, or of the household viewing the property, shows symptoms of Covid-19 or is self-isolating, then an in-person viewing should be delayed.

The government is encouraging the use of virtual viewings before visiting properties in person in order to minimise public health risks.

Are estate agents in tier 1 open?

Yes.

However, the toughened tier system means more people are being encouraged to work from home where possible under tier one.

This might mean some agents may choose to work from home, continuing to work digitally and remaining open at branch-level by appointment only.

Can I move house under tier 1?

Yes.

Estate and lettings agents, removers, valuers and people in sales and lettings offices and show homes can continue to work under the tiered system as they did during the most recent national lockdown.

Meeting with people outside your household or bubble “to facilitate moving home” is listed as one of the government’s exemptions from gatherings limits across all tiers.

Advice from the government encourages everyone involved in a home move to be as flexible as possible and to be prepared to delay moves if, for example, one of those involved becomes ill with Covid-19 or has to self-isolate.

Which English regions are in tier 1?

South east

  • Isle of Wight

South west

  • Cornwall
  • Isles of Scilly

Tier 2 - high alert

Tier two is for areas with a higher or rapidly rising level of Covid-19 infections.

Anyone living in a tier two area must follow all of the tier one rules, and also not meet with anybody outside of their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, including their home or a public building.

Meetings of up to six people from outside the same household or bubble can take place outside in public spaces and gardens.

Find full details and the latest government guidance here.

What does tier 2 mean for the property market? 

Under tier two, the majority of businesses can continue to operate as usual and this includes estate agents and other services related to moving house, such as conveyancers and removers.

Can I view properties in a tier 2 area?

Yes.

In-person property viewings can still take place, with appropriate precautions.

The same advice applies to tier two property viewings as it does in tier one.

This means property viewings can continue to take place with Covid-secure measures in place.

Such measures include the wearing of face coverings, regular hand washing, keeping doors and windows open for good ventilation during the viewing, and only two prospective buyers from the same household entering the property at a time. Sellers and the estate agent may choose to wait outside the property or decide not to be present while viewings are undertaken.

Open house viewings are not allowed at this time.

The government is encouraging the use of virtual viewings before visiting properties in person to minimise public health risks, and socially distant viewings.

If any member of either the household whose home is being viewed, or of the household viewing, shows symptoms of Covid-19 or is self-isolating, then in-person viewing should be delayed.

For the latest government advice in full check here.

Are estate agents in tier 2 open?

Yes.

However, as with tier one, the toughened tier system means more people are being encouraged to work from home where possible.

This might mean some agents choose to work from home, continuing to work digitally and opening their branch by appointment only.

Can I move house under tier 2?

Yes.

The government has been clear that the property market is staying open even as restrictions are toughened, and during the second national lockdown moving services continued with Covid-secure measures in place.

This means estate and lettings agents, removals, valuers and people in sales and lettings offices and show homes can to continue working under the tiered system.

Meeting with people outside your household or bubble “to facilitate moving home” is listed as one of the government’s exemptions from gatherings limits across all tiers.

Advice from the government encourages everyone involved in a home move to be as flexible as possible and to be prepared to delay moves, for example if one of those involved becomes ill with Covid-19 or has to self-isolate.

Which English regions are in tier 2?

North west

  • Cumbria
  • Liverpool City Region
  • Warrington and Cheshire

Yorkshire

  • York
  • North Yorkshire

West Midlands

  • Worcestershire
  • Herefordshire
  • Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin

East Midlands

  • Rutland
  • Northamptonshire

East of England

  • Suffolk
  • Hertfordshire
  • Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
  • Norfolk
  • Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea
  • Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes

London

  • all 32 boroughs plus the City of London

South east

  • East Sussex
  • West Sussex
  • Brighton and Hove
  • Surrey
  • Reading
  • Wokingham
  • Bracknell Forest
  • Windsor and Maidenhead
  • West Berkshire
  • Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Oxfordshire

South west

  • South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
  • Bath and North East Somerset
  • Dorset
  • Bournemouth
  • Christchurch
  • Poole
  • Gloucestershire
  • Wiltshire and Swindon
  • Devon

Tier 3 - very high alert

Tier three is reserved for areas in England where transmission rates of Covid-19 are causing the greatest concern.

People living in these areas are not allowed to meet anybody outside of their household or support bubble in an indoor or outdoor setting, apart from open public spaces such as parks and beaches, where the rule of six will still apply.

The public are also advised not to travel in and out of these areas, other than for work, education, accessing youth services or caring responsibilities.

What does tier 3 mean for the property market?

The government has been clear that the property market is staying open even as restrictions are toughened, and during the latest national lockdown moving services continued but with Covid-secure measures in place.

However, the government has called for flexibility among movers and sellers under the tightest coronavirus measures, should plans have to change due to any of the households involved contracting or being exposed to Covid-19.

Can I view properties in a tier 3 area?

Yes.

In-person viewings are still allowed under the highest Covid-19 tier.

However, some estate agents, sellers and buyers may decide to postpone viewings  while restrictions are in place.

That said, renewed lockdown measures may also heighten people’s desire to move if they are unhappy with their current accommodation.

Virtual viewings can continue to take place and are likely to be offered by estate agents in the first instance so that any in-person viewings are given to the most interested prospective buyers.

As in the lower tiers, Covid-secure measures should be firmly in place during in-person viewings.

Such measures include the wearing of face coverings, regular hand washing, keeping doors and windows open for good ventilation during the viewing, and only two prospective buyers from the same household entering the property at a time. Sellers and the estate agent may choose to wait outside the property or decide not to be present while viewings are undertaken.

Open house viewings are not allowed under tier three or any of the lower tiers.

If any member of either the household whose home is being viewed, or the household viewing, shows symptoms of Covid-19 or is self-isolating, then an in-person viewing should be delayed.

Are estate agents in tier 3 open?

Yes.

However, as with tiers one and two, the toughened tier system means people are being encouraged to work from home when possible.

This might mean some agents choose to work from home, continuing to work digitally and remaining open at branch-level by appointment only.

Can I move house under tier 3?

Yes.

Estate and lettings agents, removals, valuers and people in sales and lettings offices and show homes can to continue working under the tiered system.

Meeting with people outside your household or bubble “to facilitate moving home” is listed as one of the government’s exemptions from gatherings limits across all tiers.

Which English regions are in tier 3?

North east

  • Hartlepool
  • Middlesbrough
  • Stockton-on-Tees
  • Redcar and Cleveland
  • Darlington
  • Sunderland
  • South Tyneside
  • Gateshead
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • North Tyneside
  • County Durham
  • Northumberland

North west

  • Greater Manchester
  • Lancashire
  • Blackpool
  • Blackburn with Darwen

Yorkshire and The Humber

  • The Humber
  • West Yorkshire
  • South Yorkshire

West Midlands

  • Birmingham and Black Country
  • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
  • Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull

East Midlands

  • Derby and Derbyshire
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
  • Leicester and Leicestershire
  • Lincolnshire

South east

  • Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)
  • Kent and Medway

South west

  • Bristol
  • South Gloucestershire
  • North Somerset.

What about Scotland?

Scotland’s government has imposed a five-level system of coronavirus measures.

Currently, there are 11 areas in west and central Scotland now in the highest level of Covid-19 restrictions, which go from zero (lowest) to four (very high risk).

Can I view properties in-person in Scotland?

Yes.

The Scottish government’s guidance on property viewings emphasises a virtual-first approach.

This means in-person property viewings are permitted, but it is recommended that you view properties virtually in the first instance if possible and only proceed to a physical viewing if you are interested in offering on the property.

Can I move house in Scotland?

Yes.

In Scotland, people can continue to move under all five levels, and to and from areas in different levels.

However, the government suggests people may wish to consider whether they can postpone a move and related activities in areas subject to level four.

You can read the latest guidance from the Scottish government on moving home here.

What about Wales?

Wales recently emerged from a four-week “firebreak lockdown” and no tier-based Covid-19 restrictions are currently in place.

This means the property market can continue to operate within coronavirus safety measures.

People living in Wales may:

  • move home
  • market a residential property for sale or rent and prepare a residential property for persons to move into
  • visit estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes for the purposes of the purchase, sale, letting or rental of residential property
  • view a residential property.

The 20 UK locations where homes sell the fastest

Where do homes sell like hot cakes? Our latest research has the answer and also shows that three-bedroom houses sell faster than any other property type.

We’ve analysed our portal data to find the locations in Britain where homes sell most quickly. Our research identified 20 regions where properties sell in around 30 days or faster.

Falkirk in Scotland is the UK’s fastest-moving location with listings there taking an average of just 20 days to go from “for sale” to “sold subject to contract”.

Bridgend, Wales and Waltham Forest, East London were the joint second speediest markets, with offers being accepted on homes in both locations just 24 days after they were first listed.

The Midlands dominated our top 20, accounting for eight of the locations where homes sell in the shortest time frame.

By contrast, the South of England hardly featured on the list, with only three regions (just one of which was in London) earning a spot among the top 20.

What’s driving fast sales?

Pent up demand following the first Covid-19 lockdown has led to a surge in the UK property sales pipeline which is 50% bigger than this time last year

Tom Parker, our consumer spokesperson, said: “With a potential saving of up to £15,000, the rush from buyers to benefit from the stamp duty holiday is very much on.

“Of course there is still a significant amount of work to be done once a property is under offer, but properties being snapped up quickly by eager buyers is the first hurdle to leap if you want to make that saving.

“We’d urge buyers to act quickly and decisively in their hunt for a perfect property. Any delay can not only mean you miss out on your dream home but could hit you in the pocket too.”

UK locations where homes sell the fastest

Falkirk, Waltham Forest and Bridgend are the three fastest-moving locations.

The top five is completed by Liverpool and Salford, Greater Manchester where homes take an average of 25 days and 26 days to sell respectively.

Sheffield is the fastest-moving market in Yorkshire and the Humber, with homes typically listed for 27 days before they are sold.

Rank

Local Authority

Region

Days on the market*

1

Falkirk

Scotland

20

2

Waltham Forest

London

24

3

Bridgend

Wales

24

4

Liverpool

North West

25

5

Salford

North West

26

6

Sheffield

Yorkshire and the Humber

27

7

Redditch

West Midlands

27

8

Bromsgrove

West Midlands

28

9

Walsall

West Midlands

28

10

Stoke-on-Trent

West Midlands

28

11

Leeds

Yorkshire and the Humber

28

12

Bristol

South West

29

13

Dartford

South East

30

14

Nottingham

East Midlands

30

15

Oldham

North West

31

16

Gedling

East Midlands

31

17

South Staffordshire

West Midlands

31

18

Mansfield

East Midlands

31

19

Trafford

North West

31

20

Manchester

North West

31

* Days on the market rounded to the nearest whole number. Calculated as a rolling six months average from 1st May to 31st October.

Midlands dominates with majority of speediest markets

Markets in the East and West Midlands featured heavily on the list, particularly towns within a 40-minute drive of Birmingham.

Redditch, Worcestershire came in seventh place, with properties there taking an average of just 27 days to sell, followed by Bromsgrove and Walsall, both in the West Midlands, and Stoke-on-Trent in the East Midlands all at 28 days.

Also in the East Midlands, properties in Nottingham spent an average 30 days on the market before finding a buyer, while those in Gedling and Mansfield are on the market for an average of 31 days each.

The fastest-selling borough in London

Only one London borough features in our list of fastest-moving markets, Waltham Forest in East London.

Properties in this borough, which spans Walthamstow, Leytonstone, Highams Park and Chingford, typically sell in 24 days.

In line with London house prices, the fastest moving price band here is £400,000-£450,000, noticeably higher than the other fastest-moving markets in our top 20.

What about the rest of the South?

The South of England hardly features on our list of fastest-moving markets with only two regions outside London ranking.

Bristol is the only location in the South West to feature. It is in 12th place with properties taking an average of 29 days to sell. A two-bedroom terraced house is the fastest moving property type, while when it comes to price band, the speediest is £150,000-£200,000.

Meanwhile, Dartford in Kent is the only South East location to feature (apart from Waltham Forest). Dartford is a firm favourite with London commuters and comes in joint 13th place with average properties taking 30 days to sell. A three-bed terraced house is the fastest moving property type in this region and the fastest moving price band here is higher, coming in at a £250,000-£300,000

What are the fastest-selling property types?

Three-bedroom semi-detached homes were the quickest to sell in 12 of the top 20 fastest-moving markets, followed by two-bedroom terraced homes in five locations and one-bedroom flats in two places.

Cheaper properties also found buyers more quickly, with homes in the £100,000 to £150,000 price bracket leading the way in 11 markets, followed by those in the £150,000 to £200,000 range in five markets.

Waltham Forest and Dartford had the highest price bands for fast sales, followed by Trafford at £200,000 to £250,000.


Revealed: the top 10 search terms most used by homehunters in 2020

Our research reveals gardens and garages topped our "Top 10 most-searched terms" lists this year, as coronavirus impacted on what buyers and renters want from their homes.

A garden is what buyers and renters want most in 2020, perhaps reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns.

Analysis of our property search tool over the past 12 months showed that “garden” was the top feature both buyers and renters were looking for in their new home this year.

“Detached”, “rural” and “secluded” all also made it into the top 10 keywords prospective buyers entered into our search tool in 2020.

Meanwhile, renters were keen to find a property with a “balcony” (fourth on the list), and many were up for finding a rental in the countryside with “rural” featuring in ninth place.

Britons’ preoccupation with their cars was also reflected in our top 10 search terms, with “garage” and “parking” making it into the top three for both buyers and renters.

What are buyers looking for?

The most-searched-for terms give sellers an interesting insight into what potential buyers are really looking for.

“Garden” was the most-searched-for term among those looking to purchase a home, followed by “garage” and “parking”.

“Detached”, “rural” and “secluded” occupied the next three slots, as people looked for properties that would help them to social distance, while balcony took eighth place, as homehunters prioritised having access to outdoor space.

The once unfashionable “bungalow” made it into the top 10 most-searched-for terms for the second year running, coming in seventh place.

An “annexe” was the ninth most-searched-for property feature, possibly reflecting a desire among homehunters to have elderly parents move in with them as a result of the pandemic.

“Freehold” completed the top 10.

Buyers’ top 10 most-searched terms

1

garden

2

garage

3

parking

4

detached

5

rural

6

secluded

7

bungalow

8

balcony

9

annexe

10

freehold

What are renters looking for?

For renters, “garden” also took the top spot, while “balcony” was in fourth place and “rural” came ninth.

“Parking” was the second-most-important thing renters looked for in a potential home, followed by a “garage”. “Pets” completed the top five, perhaps reflecting the recent surge in renters who want to find pet-friendly homes.

Having the right flooring was also a priority for renters, as was rent that included household bills and having an ensuite bathroom.

The top 10 also reflected the demand for rental properties among those at university, with “student” the tenth most-searched-for term.

Renters’ top 10 most-searched terms 

1

garden

2

parking

3

garage

4

balcony

5

pets

6

flooring

7

bills included

8

ensuite

9

rural

10

student

Why is this happening?

The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a once in a lifetime reassessment of what people want from their homes.

Lockdowns and social distancing have caused people to put a high premium on having access to outdoor space.

Also, with more of us working from home, living in cities or close to good transport links has become less important. As a result, many homehunters are looking towards more rural locations.

This reassessment, combined with the government’s stamp duty holiday, has triggered a mini-housing market boom, with the sales pipeline currently 50% bigger than it was this time last year.


Tenants’ charter: social housing residents to be given greater voice to demand safety standards from landlords

Reforms announced by the government will make social housing landlords more accountable and speed up the complaints procedure.

Social housing is set to be reformed to make landlords more accountable and to give tenants a greater voice, according to proposals published by the government.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans for a new charter setting out the standards tenants in the sector can demand from their landlords.

“We’re levelling up this country, making it fairer for everyone – and that includes making sure social housing tenants are treated with the respect they deserve,” he wrote in the Social Housing White Paper 2020.

Such standards include living in a property that meets safety standards and is in good repair, and giving tenants the chance to have their voice heard through regular meetings and scrutiny panels with landlords.

In a bid to increase accountability, tenants will also have a right to know how their landlord is performing against a set of tenant satisfaction measures in areas such as repairs, complaints and safety, as well as how money is being spent.

The government also announced plans to speed up the complaints procedure for residents and to strengthen the Regulator of Social Housing and Housing Ombudsman to help drive the cultural change required and ensure complaints are dealt with promptly and fairly.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “I want to see social housing tenants empowered by a regulatory regime and a culture of transparency, accountability, decency and service befitting of the best intentions and deep roots of social housing in this country.”

Why is this happening?

The plans are in response to a Conservative party manifesto pledge to provide social housing tenants with greater redress, better regulation and to improve the quality of their homes.

The government is also delivering on a promise it made to the Grenfell community that the voice of tenants would never go unheard again.

A total of 72 people died due to a fire at the Grenfell Tower block in west London in June 2017. The tragedy prompted the government to have a "fundamental rethink" on social housing.

Who does it affect?

Around 4m people live in social housing in England but the safety standards for the sector fall below those required for the private rental sector.

In the past, social housing tenants have also had to wait for several months in order to get complaints resolved, while the regulator has not conducted proactive investigations or inspections but only acted once things have gone wrong.

The new measures should not only increase the safety of social housing, but should also give tenants more opportunities to provide input on the state of their accommodation.

What’s the background?

The government is launching a consultation on making it mandatory to have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in all rental homes to bring the social housing sector in line with the private rental one.

The government also reaffirmed its commitment to helping social tenants who want to become homeowners to do so through the Right to Buy initiative and its new Right to Shared Ownership scheme for housing association tenants in new grant-funded homes.

Top three takeaways

  • Social housing is set to be reformed with a new charter to make landlords more accountable and to give tenants a greater voice

  • Under the new standards information will be published showing how landlords are performing in areas such as repairs, complaints and safety to increase accountability

  • The government also announced plans to speed up the complaints procedure for residents and strengthen the Regulator of Social Housing and Housing Ombudsman.


Covid-19 has changed what Britons value about their homes

The pandemic and lockdown process has made more people appreciate having a study and question the practicality of open plan living, our latest research reveals.

The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown are impacting on how many of us feel about our homes, according to our latest research.

Despite working from home having become the norm for many since the first national lockdown in March, one in five Britons is not happy with their working set up.

Only 23% of those we surveyed have a dedicated study or home office, with 18% working in their living room and a further 14% working in their bedrooms.

A lack of space in which to work was the biggest gripe, with 18% of respondents complaining about being forced to share their workspace with a spouse, family member or housemate. A further 8% complained about a lack of privacy for calls and virtual meetings.

Unsurprisingly, lockdown has also changed people’s attitude towards open plan living, which has grown in popularity in recent years.

Nearly three out of 10 people said their views on open plan layouts had changed, with 11% saying they did not think they were practical in the new normal, while 33% of respondents claimed they never thought they were a good idea in the first place.

By contrast, 17% of those questioned said they now preferred the idea of open plan living, possibly because they are missing the human interaction they previously had at work.

Why is this happening?

Lockdown and the huge rise in the number of people working from home has caused Britons to re-evaluate what they want from their properties.

Features that people did not prioritise when they spent a lot of time away from their home, such as a garden or home office, have gained increased importance among Britons.

Open plan living, which operated well when a property was primarily being used during leisure time, may also have become less appealing when people are working from home for the longer-term.

Tom Parker, consumer spokesperson at Zoopla, said: “Having a home fit for the changes in our lifestyle has never been so important, particularly as many of us work from home.

“For those of us not considering moving home, there’s always scope to improve your current living space, be this painting a room to add a different feel, or zoning a space to create a space for home working.”

Who does it affect?

Despite being dissatisfied with their homeworking arrangement, only 29% of people have spent money on improving their set up, such as buying a new desk or office chair, or upgrading their wi-fi package. A lucky 14% of respondents said their employer covered the cost of improvements.

Others were more positive about working from home, with three out of 10 saying they appreciated not having the hassle and exhaustion of commuting, and 12% appreciated the money they were saving by not having to travel to and from the office.

What’s the background?

With England back in lockdown for another four weeks and other coronavirus restrictions in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, many Britons are turning their attention to home improvements.

Upgrading interior decoration is the most popular DIY project people plan to tackle, with 32% of respondents keen to get cracking, followed by garden landscaping (15%) and kitchen renovations at (12%).

One in 10 people plan to create a home office, while 7% aim to improve their wi-fi or phone connectivity.

Fewer homeowners, however, are planning more costly home improvements, with just 5% of our respondents intending to convert their lofts and only 9% thinking of having an extension built.

Top three takeaways

  • Covid-19 and lockdown are changing what Britons value about their homes

  • One in five are still not happy with their working set up, with only 23% of people having a study or home office

  • Nearly three out of 10 people said their views on open plan layouts had changed with 11% saying they did not think they were practical in the new normal.


Mortgage choice improves for the first time in 5 months

First-time buyers have been hit by reduced mortgage availability in the wake of Covid-19, but the latest figures reveal an increase in products for borrowers with small deposits.

The number of mortgages on the market has risen for the first time since June, with choice also increasing for borrowers with small deposits.

A total of 2,404 mortgages are currently available - 145 more than in October, according to financial information group Moneyfacts.

The biggest increase was seen in mortgages for people borrowing 75% and 80% of their home’s value, with these tiers accounting for 63% of the rise.

But there was also a glimmer of hope for borrowers with small deposits who have been hit by the withdrawal of high loan-to-value mortgage products in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest data showed a slight improvement in mortgage availability for people with only a 10% deposit, with 56 different mortgages now on offer, up from 51 in October.

Meanwhile, 35 new mortgages were launched for those with a 15% deposit, bringing the total to 344.

But despite the improvement, the number of different mortgages available is still less than half the level seen in November last year.

Why is this happening?

The coronavirus pandemic and the economic uncertainty created by lockdown restrictions has caused lenders to review the level of risk they were prepared to take on.

Many lenders subsequently streamlined their mortgage ranges and withdrew products for borrowers with small deposits.

Despite the reimposition of lockdowns and other Covid-19 restrictions, the recent buoyancy of the housing market, combined with strong mortgage demand, appears to be tempting lenders to launch new products.

Who does it affect?

The increase in mortgage choice is good news for potential buyers as it follows five consecutive months during which lenders reduced their range.

The growth in the number of mortgages available for people with only small deposits is particularly welcome, as this sector of the market was hardest hit when lenders reviewed their ranges earlier this year.

The majority of mortgages for people borrowing 90% of their home’s value are currently being offered by small building societies, such as Penrith, Scottish, The Cumberland, and Teachers Building Societies, and may be restricted to people living in the local area.

Recently, Accord Mortgages released a series of 90% LTV ‘pulse’ deals, available for two days only, for first-time buyers. It’s latest 90% LTV deal, which ran for nine days, was available to all borrowers. Metro Bank recently relaunched its 90% deal too.

 

Meanwhile, start-up lender Generation Home has just launched a new-style mortgage that can be applied for by a group of up to six friends or family members.

The idea is that groups of friends who want to live together could buy a property together, or family members could assist a first-time buyer in getting on to the property ladder.

While the income of different people named on the mortgage application will be included in the calculation for how much can be borrowed, the ‘booster’, as they are known, has the choice of either contributing to regular repayments, or just being on standby in case they are needed.

What’s the background?

While mortgage availability increased in November, average mortgage rates also rose for the fourth month running.

The typical cost of a two-year fixed-rate deal edged ahead by 0.05% to 2.43%, while interest on a five-year one rose by 0.08% to 2.7% - both broadly in line with levels seen in March this year.

Meanwhile, the average time a mortgage product is available before lenders withdraw it dropped to just 28 days, the lowest level since August 2018.

This means borrowers will have to move quickly to apply for a mortgage after identifying a suitable product, as they are likely to have only a small window of time before it is withdrawn.

Top three takeaways

  • The number of mortgages available has increased for the first time since June
  • A total of 2,404 mortgages are now available - 145 more than in October
  • The biggest increase was mortgages for people borrowing 75% and 80% of their home’s value.

Rents dropped 5% in London, but the rest of the UK showed 1.7% rental growth in 2020

Rents outside London have grown this year but they’ve dropped in the capital as Covid-19 creates a two-speed market, according to our latest Rental Market Report.

With England now in the grip of a second lockdown and restrictions in place across the rest of the UK, our latest Rental Market Report reveals Covid-19 has led to a two-speed market.

Our report shows that despite challenges caused by the impact of the pandemic in 2020, the wider UK rental market (excluding London) is resilient and has shown 1.7% annual growth in rents.

Average rents in London, however, have fallen by 5.2% over the last 12 months, reaching levels last seen in 2014.

What does the two-speed market mean?

Average UK rents outside London climbed by 0.7% in the three months to September, taking the annual growth rate to 1.7%.

Our report reveals a positive picture across most cities. Belfast and Newcastle both recorded annual rental growth of 3.5%, followed by Bristol at 3.1%. Sheffield and Glasgow followed closely behind.

However, London sits at the other end of the spectrum, with rents falling by 3.2% over the last quarter to September. It’ll take the annual fall to 5.2% by the end of December.

This two-speed market is set to be entrenched during the second lockdown in England which started in early November and is due to lift on 2 December - although an extension hasn’t been ruled out. Scotland has a five-tier restriction system in place and Wales recently emerged from a two-week “firebreak” lockdown.

What is driving rental growth?

A mismatch between tenant demand and the number of rental homes on the market is underpinning rental growth.

While renter appetite to move home has levelled off since early summer when the first lockdown ended, it’s still 20% higher than this time last year.

Stricter lending as a result of the pandemic is forcing many aspiring first-time buyers to put their home-ownership plans on hold and remain in the rental market for longer, supporting overall demand.

With universities remaining open despite the impact of Covid-19, the annual influx of students to college in the autumn will also have boosted rental demand.

Against this backdrop, the number of homes available to rent has been constrained, with investment levels dropping since the 3% stamp duty surcharge was introduced in 2016 for those buying an additional home.

What’s the regional picture like?

The strongest rental growth is in the North East, where annual rental growth is up 3.2% in the year to September.

In the North East, rental demand was 54% higher in the three months to September than the average in previous years, while supply is down 9% compared to the typical levels seen in the same three months over the past three years.

Rental growth is in positive territory in all other UK regions outside London, except Scotland and the West Midlands which have other factors affecting the dynamics of the market.

In Edinburgh, a 1.6% annual fall in rents reflects muted tourism and the shift from short-lets to long-lets, while the Aberdeen market has been affected by the North Sea energy industry.

Manchester and Birmingham have just dipped into negative territory, at -0.1% and -0.5% respectively. There are larger annual rental declines in Coventry (down 2.5%) and Reading (down 1.8%) as some cities are hit by the impact of people working from home.

What about London?

The pandemic has had a major impact on London’s rental market, with rental falls reflecting changing work and commute patterns as well as muted tourism.

Like any housing market, London’s is very localised.

The move towards working from home has particularly hit central London, where rental properties normally used by workers for part of the week are coming back to the market.

On top of this, restricted tourism during the summer and autumn has impacted the short-term rental market, with many landlords now offering long-term rentals instead.

However, rental demand is stronger in outer London boroughs where rentals tend to offer more space for the money and are more likely to come with gardens.

What impact has the first lockdown had?

The first lockdown led many renters, just like buyers, to reassess their home and lifestyle. As a result, rented houses are now being snapped up more quickly than flats in some areas. This suggests, perhaps unsurprisingly, additional space, often with a garden, is becoming more important to home-movers.

This trend is reflected in our data, which reveals that the most popular search terms are:

  • gardens

  • parking

  • garage

  • balcony

  • pets.

The timeline of renting a property has also shortened. The time it takes to rent a house and a flat in the UK, on average, is 16 days and 18 days respectively. This is down from 20 days last year for both types of property.

What’s the outlook for the months ahead?

The two-speed rental market in the UK is here to stay for the coming months, with restrictions set to exacerbate some of the trends that have emerged from previous lockdowns.

And moving into next year, the supply of rental homes in large cities could catch up with demand, limiting the scope for further rental growth.

However, earnings growth is expected to pick up again in 2021, which could pave the way for rents to increase, especially if office working becomes the norm again.

Head of research here said: "The split in the rental market caused by Covid-19 has now crystallised and we are seeing the two-speed market firmly entrenched.

"For most of the UK, the demand/supply gap is underpinning moderate levels of rental growth. We haven’t seen the exodus of students from cities and, as more people are staying in the rental market given the squeeze on mortgage lending, higher levels of demand will continue to underpin rents.

"At the same time, however, muted earnings growth will start to limit the headroom for rental growth in some markets.”

"The search for additional space, both indoor and outdoor,  within the rental sector is also set to continue as the country goes through additional periods of lockdown."


Mortgage approvals soared to a 13-year high in September

The stamp duty holiday is continuing to drive high levels of buyer demand. But with England in lockdown again, will this trend continue?

Mortgage approvals for house purchases soared to a 13-year high in September as the rush to buy a home in time to benefit from the stamp duty holiday continued.

A total of 91,500 mortgages were given the green light in September, the highest level since September 2007.

The numbers edged well above August’s tally of 84,700 approvals.

The stampede to buy homes is being driven by a combination of the government’s stamp duty holiday and people reassessing their housing needs following the first coronavirus lockdown.

The high level of demand is reflected in our latest house price index, which found that the pipeline for sales was 53% bigger in October than during the same month last year.

Why is this happening?

September is traditionally a busy month as the property market enjoys an autumn bounce, but in 2020 it has shown higher activity than usual.

The strong level of pipeline sales in part reflects demand that built up during the first national lockdown continuing to work its way through the system, while activity is also being driven by the stamp duty holiday on homes costing up to £500,000.

In addition, the pandemic has caused people to reassess their housing needs, particularly with the threat of further lockdowns looming, creates additional demand.

Who does it affect?

With the stamp duty holiday due to end on March 31, buyers who want to take advantage of it need to start house hunting straight away.

It typically takes around 100 days from an offer being accepted to a transaction being legally completed.

But the current high volume of sales going through is expected to create delays in the conveyancing process, while national lockdowns such as the ones currently imposed on England and Wales could slow things down further.

We estimate that only 54% of sales agreed in January will have completed by the end of March, compared with 92% of those agreed in November.

At the same time, the number of mortgage products available has halved during the past year, with just a handful of deals remaining for people with a 5% deposit and only around 50 for those with a 10% one, according to Moneyfacts.

It is not only those borrowing a high proportion of the value of their homes that are being hit, with mortgage choice falling in all but two loan-to-value brackets, including the 60% one.

There are also reports of a rise in applications being rejected, particularly for first-time buyers, as lenders become more risk-averse.

Finally, the high levels of demand mean buyers face increased competition for homes that are on the market, with many people chasing properties with the same features, such as large gardens.

What’s the background?

Going forward, buyer appetite in some areas is expected to begin to slow down as the recession and rising unemployment take their toll.

Richard Donnell, our research and insight director, said: “The strength of the market nationally is masking weakness in parts of the market where sales are slowing in areas where households are typically on lower incomes and more sensitive to economic uncertainty and more restricted credit availability.

“This market polarisation is set to become a growing feature of the market as we move in 2021.”

Top three takeaways

  • Mortgage approvals for house purchase soared to a 13-year high in September as the rush to buy a home continued

  • A total of 91,500 mortgages got the green light during the month, the highest level since September 2007

  • The stampede to buy homes is being driven by a combination of the government’s stamp duty holiday and people reassessing their housing needs following coronavirus lockdowns.


Lockdown 2: what does it mean for the property market?

A second national lockdown is upon us. With the government making it clear that the housing market is open for business, we explain what the restrictions mean for you.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has won parliamentary approval for a second lockdown in England.

From Thursday 5 November until at least Wednesday 2 December, England is under tough new coronavirus restrictions, with many similarities to the lockdown imposed in March.

Lockdown 2, as it has been dubbed, will last for four weeks but ministers have refused to rule out an extension if the rate of infection doesn’t come down.

However, housing secretary Robert Jenrick has stressed that the property market can continue to operate while following Covid safety guidance.

You are allowed to do the following:

  • Visit estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes

  • View homes to buy or rent

  • Prepare a home to move into

  • Move home

  • Visit a home to prepare it for sale or rent.

What does lockdown 2 mean for the property market? 

Although more of us will be working from home and movement is restricted, the English housing market is still open for business.

Gráinne Gilmore, our head of research, explains: “This lockdown is different from that of earlier in the year. Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, made this clear within hours of Saturday's announcement, when he said that the housing market will ‘remain open’ during lockdown, so home moves can continue.

“Most agents are well prepared to continue to work remotely should they need to, given the experience between March and May. Likewise, conveyancers and mortgage lenders will be able to shift back to home working quite smoothly, so hopefully sales progression will continue.”

Lockdown 2 and the property market - your questions answered

1. Can I move house during lockdown?

Yes.

Home removals, van hire and other services related to moving house will still operate during lockdown.

However, home-movers and sellers are expected to follow social distancing guidelines and to follow best practices as closely as possible to ensure moving home is as Covid-19 secure as possible.

This includes wearing masks and gloves and having as few people inside a property as possible at any time.

If one of those involved with a home move becomes ill with Covid-19 during the moving process or has to self-isolate, then all parties must be contacted and the move postponed until it can be safely carried out and those who were ill have recovered.

2. Are estate agents open?

The advice from the government is that estate agents are allowed to stay open at branch level.

This means you can still visit your local estate agent during lockdown, but you must follow Covid-secure guidelines such as wearing a mask and sanitising your hands.

While the majority of agents are likely to stay open, and viewings and other services continue to operate as normal, some agencies have chosen to ask staff to work from home. In such cases, estate agents can be contacted over the phone or via their website or email.

Agents also have ways to support much of the sales process virtually with many agents now offering virtual viewings and tours as a first step. Additionally, for homeowners considering selling agents have tools to start the valuation process digitally as well.

Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark said: “It is vital that agents continue taking all necessary steps to reduce the spread of coronavirus, working in accordance with government and Propertymark guidelines, so the market can continue moving for the entirety of the second lockdown period.”

3. Can I still go view properties in person? 

Yes, you can still view potential homes in person.

The new rules state that you can visit estate and letting agents, developer sales offices, show homes and go on viewings during this second lockdown.

However, your estate agent may arrange for your initial viewing to be conducted virtually, with only subsequent visits happening in person.

During in-person home viewings, all parties (that means homeowners, prospective buyers and estate agents) must follow Covid-19 safety guidelines.

A socially distanced viewing essentially means as few people should be in the property as possible (perhaps the owners would like to go out for their daily exercise?) and estate agents may not enter the property with prospective buyers.

The number of prospective buyers allowed to enter the property may also be limited.

Anyone entering the property should wear a mask, sanitize their hands and efforts should be made before and after viewings to wipe down door handles and other common areas.

Find out more in our guide to socially distanced viewings.

Either way, you can still arrange virtual viewings of any property you are interested in by contacting the selling agents.

4. How do virtual property viewings work?

The types of virtual viewing available vary between different estate agents.

Some use 3D cameras that enable house-hunters to take a self-guided tour around a property on their PC or smartphone - from standing at the kitchen sink and looking out of the window, to measuring the size of wardrobes in the bedroom.

In other cases, especially if a property is unoccupied, agents may take their own videos as they walk around it or during a video call with the home-hunters.

Some agents also offer virtual appointments where they talk potential buyers through a virtual viewing as they would if they were at the property in person.

Read more about virtual viewings.

5. Can I put my house on the market during lockdown?

Yes, you can.

The new rules allow people to visit a property to get it ready for sale or rent.

It means that securing a valuation from an estate agent, having photographs taken for marketing purposes, drawing up floorplans and Energy Performance Certificates can all take place.

And there’s no reason for your home not to be advertised on the agent’s website and property portals.

6. Can my friends or family help me move?

Unless you live together as part of the same household, the answer is no- except in circumstances where it is “absolutely necessary”.

Friends and family who don’t live together cannot mix indoors or outdoors under the new guidelines unless one of you is a single person household and you have formed a support bubble.

If you are reliant on friends or family to move, you should work with your conveyancer and estate agency to try and move the completion or rental move-in date to a time after the lockdown has lifted.

The government guidance states: “People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.”

7. Can I use moving services?

Removal firms are expected to honour existing commitments where the home move can be done safely and the date cannot be changed.

They will follow social distancing guidelines and expect the same consideration from home-movers.

8. Will conveyancing continue during lockdown? 

Conveyancers will continue to support the sale of properties during lockdown.

They will also help sellers and buyers wishing to change their completion and moving dates until after lockdown.

9. What happens if I’m due to exchange and/or complete during lockdown?

During the lockdown earlier this year, government advice stated that if you could not push back the timings of your home move, then it could go ahead. It added that efforts should be made (with the help of your conveyancer, estate agent and any other members of the property chain) to undertake completion after lockdown if possible.

The government has confirmed that exchange and completions can go ahead during the second lockdown period.

10. What happens if I’m struggling to pay my mortgage? 

With incomes threatened by another lockdown, it’s understandable that people may start to struggle to pay their mortgages.

During the last lockdown banks and the government worked together to support homeowners in difficulties, for example by offering mortgage payment holidays.

The government’s mortgage holiday scheme for homeowners and landlords affected by the coronavirus pandemic has now been extended. More details below.

11. Will there be a new mortgage payment holiday to help during lockdown?

Yes.

Following the announcement about lockdown two, mortgage payment holidays are being extended for homeowners adversely financially affected by the pandemic.

Borrowers in England who have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday can request a halt on mortgage payments from their bank for up to six months.

Those who have already deferred payments can extend their mortgage holiday until they reach the six-month limit.

A mortgage payment holiday means repayments are deferred for a specific period, for example three months. During this time, a homeowner will not have to pay anything, but interest will continue to accrue and will be added to the total amount that is owed.

By October 2020, industry figures showed that 162,000 mortgage payment deferrals were in place, down from a peak of 1.8m in June.


Use the mortgage payment holiday calculator below, powered by mortgageholiday.co.uk, to see how your monthly payments may be affected by a holiday, and to find out how to apply:


12. What happens if I’m struggling to pay my rent?

One in four private renters said they were worried about how they will pay their rent as a result of the pandemic - and that was before the latest restrictions were introduced

It is important to talk to your landlord as soon as possible if you're struggling to pay your rent.

If you can still afford to pay some of your rent, ask your landlord if they would accept a reduced payment for a period of time, particularly if you think you will be able to make up the shortfall once your finances have recovered.

As part of new national lockdown measures, the government has announced that the furlough scheme that had been due to end on 31 October will be extended until 2 December.

It would also be worth checking to see if there are any government benefits available to you.

If you already claim Universal Credit or housing benefit, you may be able to get discretionary housing payment through your local council. This is a system that allows rent benefit payments to be paid directly to landlords.

13. I’m a tenant. Can l be evicted during lockdown?

In response to the first lockdown, the government introduced a blanket eviction ban to protect tenants who fell into rental arrears during the pandemic.

While it’s not yet clear if another national eviction ban will come into effect, the government has already asked bailiffs not to evict tenants living in regions of England which currently come under tier three (very high alert) coronavirus restrictions.

Currently, landlords must give tenants at least six months notice of eviction except in cases where tenants have breached antisocial behaviour or multi-occupancy rules.

It’s always a good idea to know your rights as a renter, read our guide on rental rights for more information.

14. I’m a landlord. Can I evict tenants during lockdown?

During the March lockdown the government introduced a blanket evictions ban for all landlords and tenants.

It’s not yet clear whether the same rules will be in place during the new national lockdown.

It’s likely that courts in England will still sit during the lockdown and will prioritise eviction cases involving anti-social behaviour, crime and extreme rental arrears.

The government recently reached an agreement with bailiffs that tenants living under the highest-tiered coronavirus measures would not be evicted while those restrictions are in place.

While the eviction ban imposed during the first lockdown lifted in September, bailiffs have agreed not to evict tenants living under tier two or three restrictions.

Currently, only the most serious circumstances (such as evidence of domestic violence, or antisocial behaviour) enable landlords to evict tenants without giving six months’ notice.

In October the government also announced a Christmas grace period for evictions, meaning that no tenants can be evicted between 11 December 2020 and 11 January 2021.

15. Will the stamp duty holiday be extended?

The stamp duty holiday announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in July - in a bid to reinvigorate the property market following the first lockdown - is due to expire on 31 March 2021.

Some people are questioning whether it will be extended to give people more time to take advantage of the tax break which will save the average buyer around £4,500.

Gráinne Gilmore explains:  “There is likely to be increased demand for an extension to the stamp duty holiday deadline so potential buyers do not lose out because of this second lockdown.”

While no-one knows whether an extension will be granted by Mr Sunak, you can check out our latest guide on how to beat the stamp duty holiday deadline.

16. Will Help to Buy be extended?

The government has ruled out an extension to the Help to Buy scheme.

The initiative enables people to purchase a new build property with just a 5% deposit, which the government tops up with a 20% five-year interest-free equity loan.

However, the Help to Buy equity loan can only be used for new-build properties bought before 31 March 2021 - a date that was pushed back by the government in July this year.

Despite calls for a further extension, the housing minister Christopher Pincher ruled out any further deadline changes.

“The government recognises that there have been delays caused by Covid-19," Pincher said. "That is why on 31 July a two-month extension was announced to the building completion deadline from 31 December 2020 to 28 February 2021.

“The legal completion deadline for the purchase remains 31 March 2021. The government also announced an extra measure to protect existing customers who have experienced severe delays as a result of coronavirus.

“Homes England, who administer Help to Buy, will work with those who had a reservation in place before 30 June to assess their situation and look to provide an extension where necessary. In which case, they will have until 31 May 2021 to legally complete.

“We believe these measures provide sufficient time for developers to build out homes delayed by Covid-19 and protect customers whose purchases have been significantly delayed."

The government is relaunching the scheme but only for first-time buyers in a slightly different form next year.

17. Can building work continue during lockdown?

Yes.

The government guidance confirms that home repairs and maintenance can continue.

This means tradespeople such as builders, plumbers, electricians, roofers and other services can enter your home to perform work scheduled during lockdown or to respond to any emergency work that arises, such as a water leak or boiler problem.

The government has published guidance on working in other people’s homes safely, and how to mitigate the risks. This includes social distancing, limiting numbers, and wearing personal protective equipment such as masks.

House building can continue to take place in line with public health guidance. Construction and other site workers can go to work, but that care should be taken to respect social distancing in the workplace.

The Federation of Master Builders has also published guidance for workers here.

18. Are garden centres and open during lockdown?

Yes.

Garden centres are exempt from closure as essential retail services.

You can buy tools, plants or seeds and other items from your local garden centre.

This is different from the last lockdown, which saw garden centre closures. They were among the first shops to re-open during the first lockdown.

All non-essential retailers, such as clothing shops, and all hospitality businesses will be closed until 2 December.

19. Are DIY shops open during lockdown?

Yes.

Hardware stores such as B&Q and Homebase will remain open during the second lockdown period.

20. What does lockdown 2 mean for house prices?

Following the first 2020 lockdown, the property market bounced back remarkably quickly, with a combination of pent up demand and the stamp duty holiday fuelling rising house prices.

It also led many of us to re-evaluate the homes we live in and whether they meet our needs.

This has led to a buying surge in many rural regions, with homehunters’ priorities shifting towards homes with gardens, and the rise of home working leading to a demand for home offices.

It’s too early to say what will happen to the market in December and beyond.


Lockdown 2: mortgage payment holidays to be extended for up to six months

Homeowners impacted by the coronavirus lockdown can now extend their mortgage payment holiday. Find out more here.

The mortgage payment holiday scheme will be extended for up to six months following the news that England will go back into national lockdown from 5 November until 2 December.

The scheme had been due to come to an end on Saturday 31 October, but as a result of the new measures designed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, borrowers who have not yet had a mortgage holiday can request a pause in repayments from their lender that can last up to six months.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has asked mortgage lenders extend the availability of payment deferrals to support borrowers who are experiencing payment difficulties because of coronavirus so that:

  • those who have not yet had a payment deferral will be eligible for two payment deferrals of up to six months in total
  • those who currently have an initial payment deferral, will be eligible for another payment deferral of up to three months
  • those who have resumed repayments after an initial payment deferral will be eligible for another payment deferral of up to three months

This means homeowners who have had their payments deferred already can extend their mortgage holiday for a further three months until they reach the six-month limit.

Some borrowers will not be eligible for the extension because they have already had two mortgage payment deferrals up to the six-month limit.

In such cases, the FCA has said borrowers who have already taken the full payment holiday but need further help should speak to their lenders to agree an alternative form of “tailored support”.

The FCA is also proposing that no one will have their home repossessed without their agreement until after 31 January 2021.

What's the background?

A mortgage payment holiday means repayments are deferred for a specific period and during this time, a homeowner will not have to pay anything, but interest will continue to accrue and will be added to the total amount that is owed.

The mortgage holiday scheme was first implemented following the April lockdown and by October 2020, industry figures showed that 162,000 mortgage payment deferrals were in place, down from a peak of 1.8m in June.

Lenders will work with borrowers who are struggling to meet their repayments to find the best solution for them.

This includes extending the payment holiday, agreeing to reduced payments, switching them to an interest-only mortgage and extending the mortgage term.

How does a mortgage payment holiday work?

Customers whose finances have been impacted by coronavirus are allowed to take time off making mortgage repayments.

The original payment holiday was announced on 17 March and lasted for three months, but the term has now been extended to cover the latest lockdown measures in England.

Because mortgage payments are only deferred, the interest that would have been paid is added to the outstanding debt owed.

This means the missed payments will need to be made up at some point in the future.

What other options are available?

Lenders have agreed to work with borrowers to find the best solution for them.

This may be a payment holiday, or they may look at other options that could better suit their circumstances.

For example, they may agree to accept reduced payments for a period of time, switch them to an interest-only mortgage, or extend their mortgage term. This would also lead to reduced monthly repayments.

But despite this flexibility, UK Finance has urged people who can afford to keep up with or resume their mortgage payments to do so.

How do I apply for a payment holiday?

If you want to apply for a mortgage holiday, go to your lender’s website and follow the link on coronavirus.

Many lenders have set up an online application process after being inundated with requests in the early days of the scheme.

If you want to take a different option, such as switching to an interest-only mortgage, you should contact your lender directly.


Use the mortgage payment holiday calculator below, powered by mortgageholiday.co.uk, to see how your monthly payments may be affected by a holiday, and to find out how to apply:


Whether you apply online or by telephone, you will need your mortgage details to hand, including your account number.

But you will not need to prove that your finances have been impacted, as lenders are allowing people to self-certify this.

Do not cancel your direct debit before the payment holiday has been agreed, as this would be classed as a missed payment and could impact your credit history.

Can anyone apply for a payment holiday?

A payment holiday is only available if you are not in mortgage arrears and have suffered only a temporary drop in your income, rather than a long-term reduction in your earnings.

If you face longer-term financial issues, an alternative solution may be more appropriate for you.

Either way, contact your lender and discuss it with them.

Will it impact my credit score?

Getting into mortgage arrears would normally have a negative impact on your credit score. But in light of the current exceptional circumstances, UK Finance has said lenders will make sure that borrowers’ credit scores are not affected.

As a result, if you are struggling to meet repayments it is important that you get in touch with your lender and agree to a formal payment holiday.