Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Practice at the NLA

This time of year is usually busy for the NLA’s policy and public affairs teams. Party conference creates a degree of structured pandemonium for most of September. There is generally a flurry of activity from Whitehall as officials welcome back their ministers - replete with helpful new ideas -from the long summer recess, and the road to the autumn fiscal event is looming large ahead of anyone daring enough to look that far into the future.

Add to that the latest Brexit related toing-and-froing, a Queen’s Speech, and an almost inevitable general election and you have full-house of activity, without any real certainty about what comes next.

With this backdrop of British political history re-writing itself it is perhaps unsurprising that private rented housing has not been at the forefront of debate at the three major party conferences this year. The Secretary of State for Housing used his speech to promote homeownership, talk of further reform to the planning system, and commit to building more, well designed, homes but little of specific relevance to the PRS.  

Away from the main hall, Universal Credit continued to take a battering with the Government looking like it may be ready to talk concessions with landlords. Likewise, ministers’ and MPs’ resolve around reforming Section 21 seemed to be wavering – although that is far from a guarantee that policy will change.  

To push the matter on, and make sure that all are aware of the potential consequences of abolishing no-fault possessions, we took the opportunity to publish a new report commissioned by NLA to identify the wider economic impact of tenure reform.  

Launched at our fringe meeting, held in association with Prospect Magazine, A new deal for renters? The unintended consequences of abolishing Section 21 was based on analysis undertaken by Capital Economics on behalf of the NLA and suggests that the PRS could shrink by 20 per cent if s21 is removed with: 

  • 960,000 fewer dwellings available to renters 

  • 770,000 fewer dwellings available to tenants on housing benefit or Universal Credit 

  • 600,000 dwellings could see rent increases 

The analysis goes on to suggest that, even if the court system is reformed to make using Section 8 faster and cheaper, the market would still see a likely reduction of between 180,000-390,000 homes, between 130,000-300,000 fewer homes available to benefit claimants, and rent increases for between 110,000-240,000 properties. 

Building on the thousands of landlords’ postcards delivered to 10 Downing Street outlining NLA members’ experience of using the possession process and genuine concerns about the removal of Section 21 we will use the coming weeks to discuss this analysis with policy makers to ensure that the Government understands the practical, economic, and social damage ill-thought through reforms could do.  

11 October 2019 - 8:40am
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