New boom in home working

With increased traffic congestion, mounting rail travel, motoring and parking costs, and rising stress levels related to commuting, more and more people are opting to work from home. It’s a trend that landlords should be aware of and act upon.

National statistics show that one in seven Britons now work from home. The 4.2million workers who shun the commute in favour of doing their jobs without leaving the house has gone up by 800,000 over the past ten years.

“On-going technological advances that enable people and businesses to connect ‘on the go’ or from virtually any location has, for many, reduced the need to travel to an office,” says Dorian Gonsalves, Commercial Director of Belvoir.

The 24 per cent increase has also been boosted by women seeking to find flexible work arrangements to fit around childcare.

“As employers offer greater flexibility surrounding work hours and location, a growing number of employees are taking advantage and working from a dedicated space at home. An increasing number of tenants now have a home office high on their list of criteria and landlords should be responding to this,” Dorian adds.

Government legislation has also been reviewed this year to reflect the growing trend of small businesses run from private rented properties.

Any private rented property from which a business is operated is now subject to a new law under section 35 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

This newly defined ‘Home Business Tenancy’ allows tenants to operate any business that can reasonably be run from home, with the specific exclusion of the sale or supply of alcohol.

Whilst this is a sensible development that will be welcomed by landlords, there are still many other things to consider since mortgage lenders and insurance companies may have clauses in their agreements which restrict or prohibit home working in some properties.

The terms can often be complex and the new changes do not apply to any tenancy which existed before these provisions came into force, so to accommodate the changing and growing need for ‘home working’ by tenants, landlords should seek out early professional advice from their local Belvoir office.

For landlords interested in capitalising on this trend, Belvoir has identified the key components that need to be considered when creating an attractive working area in the home:

Ample phone and electrical sockets – any home worker is likely to need fast and reliable Wi- Fi connection to the internet, along with one or more phones, computers, scanners and copiers so sufficient power provision is necessary to set up a dedicated home working areaFurniture, or the space in which a tenant can put their own – every office at least needs a desk and some storage space and it’s important to consider where furniture might go when installing sockets. Fitting out a small space is challenging but with the right furniture and a little imagination it’s certainly possibleLighting – every home worker needs good lighting, be it from a window or artificial. This should be considered when creating a dedicated working space; if the space is small and doesn’t benefit from a window, appropriate low intensity lighting should be used.

Some landlords may not have the option of devoting an entire room to office space but for those that do a relatively small investment can add considerable letting appeal. Even if the space is used only for organising bills or for students doing homework, landlords need to realise the demand for a dedicated working space – the kitchen table just won’t suffice anymore. With millions now working from home across the UK, landlords should be considering the changing market and making provisions for it.