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Property news roundup: Trees are causing millions of pounds of damage to new homes

Plus buy-to-let hotspots, neighbours' names, and local landlords

More than £25 million of damage has been caused to new homes by trees over the last six years, according to figures from the National House-Building Council.

Richard Tamayo, NHBC's Commercial Director, said: "New greenery can create a more attractive garden as well as provide privacy and can help in reducing noise from a busy road. But roots and branches can also cause expensive damage to homes.

"This is an ideal time of year to start planting trees and shrubs ahead of those lazy summer days in the garden. But anyone thinking about planting new trees or shrubs should spare a thought for their home and their neighbours by getting an expert opinion before planting."

Buy-to-let hotspots

Reading and Brighton are the fastest growing buy-to-let hotspots, according to HSBC analysis, although Southampton tops the list for investors with average yields of 8.73 per cent.

Rental returns in Reading and Brighton are now respectively 12.8 per cent and 12.6 per cent higher than last year.

Peter Dockar, head of mortgages at HSBC, said: "Landlords are reaping the benefit as young professionals say goodbye to capital living in favour of more affordable commuter towns. Despite the inevitable increase in commuter costs associated with moving further out, many still feel the move is worthwhile in order to save towards property deposits.

"House prices in these locations, while still out of reach among many first time buyers, are relatively affordable for landlords investing in property and the demand from young professionals has pushed up rents and driven up the returns."

Landlords prefer to invest locally

The main factor when selecting a potential rental property is a landlord’s own knowledge of the area, suggests a new study by Paragon Mortgages, with 86 per cent of landlords reporting this is at the top of their checklist.

Around two thirds of landlords said that strength of tenant demand in the local area was also an important factor, as were local rent levels. Only 10 per cent of landlords said that they would be prepared to buy further afield, but only up to 100 miles.

New homes directory

LoveNew.co.uk is a new national online directory of new homes developments and local suppliers. It also features stories about new home owners and their buying experiences.

Do you know your neighbours' names?

According to a survey of more than 1,000 households for ContractCleaning.co.uk:

• 53 per cent didn't know the first name and surname of their neighbours

• 81 per cent didn't know their neighbours' jobs

• 68 per cent said they hadn't spoken to their neighbours in the last week

• 15 per cent said they hadn't spoken to their neighbours at all

• 7 per cent said they had hidden when neighbours knocked on their door

Private tenants lack protection cover

Only seven per cent of private tenants have any financial protection cover, compared with 28 per cent of those with a mortgage, according to Scottish Widows. A further third said that their savings would stretch a maximum of three months to pay household bills.

Richard Jones,Protection Director at Scottish Widows said: "The location of where people rent is an increasingly important decision often dictated by work and family life. Those renting have the most to lose as they have the least savings and therefore the least resilience, and any lump sum saving could be lost to living costs if the unforeseen were to happen."