Lunchtime news Friday 23 May 2023

The number of properties sold in 2015 is likely to be the lowest for 30 years – and 30 per cent below last year’s figure. This is the news from the housing website Hometrack, which reported that house prices fell 0.5 per cent in the past month – the eighth successive month prices have tumbled. Prices are being slashed in a bid to attract fewer buyers and properties are staying on the market longer.

The bad news continued as the Council of Mortgage Lenders warned that up to 100,000 homes could be pushed into negative equity by the end of the year because of the credit crunch, while house prices will be around 7 per cent lower by the end of this year compared to last year. A spokesperson for CML said that about one borrower in 120 could be negative equity, but for most households, the amount would be ‘extremely small’ (not more than a few thousand pounds) and would only be a problem ‘in practice’ if a household wanted to move or had repayment difficulties.

Meanwhile, millions of homeowners who use mortgage brokers are being denied access to the best deals. According to the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries, the banks’ decision to deprive brokers of the best deals and sell to customers who approach them directly, has led to a fall in the number of mortgage advisers. Since the credit crunch started last year the industry has lost around 15 per cent of its members and the number of deals available through brokers has fallen by almost half in the past three months – from 32 per cent to 17 per cent of the market.

Rough sleepers in London are claiming that City of London Corporation cleaners are deliberately waking them up during the night, in a campaign to force them into hostels. The Corporation admitted it was taking a ‘more assertive approach’ to rough sleepers.

Staying in the capital, a west London council was ordered by the high court to pay nearly £100,000 in damages to a couple with learning disabilities who were terrorised by a gang of ‘feral’ youths in the their own flat. Although Hounslow council argued that it had no duty of care to the couple, the court ruled the council was negligent in failing to move the couple before the attack. The ruling is the first to hold that a council is liable to protect vulnerable adults as well as children.

And finally, if you value good neighbours, you may not want to move to Scotland. According to a poll for the Metro newspaper, neighbours in Edinburgh and Glasgow are the least friendly and most likely to clash with one another. In contrast are neighbourly sorts from the West County and East Midlands who were found to be the most friendly. The most common complaints, suffered in nearly half of all arguments, came from noise.