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New Government, new majority, new agenda - what it means for landlords

Article Posted - 17th January 2020

The unexpected size of the Conservative success at the General Election in December means that, for the first time in a decade, one party holds a significant enough majority in the Commons to be able to pursue a legislative agenda without needing to make significant compromises.

The Johnson administration wasted no time in setting out its stall. A Queen's Speech just one week after his victory had none of the pomp and circumstance we'd seen in October. 

But, there was a broader ambition in December's version, reflective of the Government's confidence that ‘getting Brexit done' would open up space for a fuller domestic agenda – and also recognition that the Conservatives need to ‘repay the trust' of their first-time voters. 

A woolly manifesto became a busy legislative agenda – with major changes proposed for the private rented sector.

Renters' Reform Bill

There had been no mention of housing in the previous Queen's Speech in October, but the Conservative manifesto committed to abolishing Section 21 (so-called ‘no-fault evictions') whilst improving landlords' possession rights through the fault-based process. 

In the December Queen's Speech, the Government announced they would bring forward a bill to ‘protect tenants' in this session of parliament. While we are still awaiting the Government response to the consultation on the changes to possession rights, it is likely that the bill will include:

•    The abolition of Section 21 •    Reform of the current Section 8 grounds to give landlords more rights when they have a legitimate need to regain possession •    The introduction of ‘lifetime deposits' (previously referred to as ‘deposit passporting') so that tenants do not need to save for a new deposit each time they move •    Expansion of the scope of the rogue landlords' and property agents' database, and enabling greater access to the database by tenants.

We are meeting with officials from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and from the Prime Minister's Office, to discuss the Government's plans further.

Building safety

The Government also confirmed they will continue with plans to implement the recommendations from the Hackitt Review, following the Grenfell Tower fire. These include building safety standards legislation – creating clear accountability for the management and safety of high-rise buildings and providing residents with stronger rights in raising concerns – and a Fire Safety Bill covering cladding, fire doors in houses in multiple occupancy, and enforcement.

Other housing changes

A new planning white paper (a government proposal for policy changes) is in the works, as well as the long-awaited reforms of leasehold to reduce ground rent to a peppercorn and restrict the building of houses on a leasehold basis.

Gigabit connections

One of Boris Johnson's key pledges as soon as he became leader of the Conservatives was to ensure wider access to gigabit-capable, full-fibre broadband connections – making the UK better connected. The Government will be implementing new legislation to accelerate this process. We have been working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to design a process for rolling out full fibre to residential properties. Look out for further information in our magazine.

One of Boris Johnson's key pledges as soon as he became leader of the Conservatives was to ensure wider access to gigabit-capable, full-fibre broadband connections – making the UK better connected. The Government will be implementing new legislation to accelerate this process. We have been working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to design a process for rolling out full fibre to residential properties. Look out for further information in our magazine.

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