Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Practice at the NLA

 

Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Practice at the NLA talks us through the month's ups and downs in the Private Rented Sector (PRS).

What's happening in the PRS?

It’s ironic really, one week Theresa May lands a bombshell restricting landlords’ ability to serve section 21 notices, the next she issues her own notice to quit. Still at least there can be no suggestion this is an illegal eviction, or even a no-fault one at that! 

On a serious note Mrs May’s imminent departure has changed the context of some of her government’s plans and presented a whole new set of challenges and opportunities. The biggest of which is most certainly what will actually happen to section 21.  

There is of course a chance that the next individual to be granted a tenancy behind the famous shiny black door of Number 10 will want nothing to do with the proposal to abolish no-fault possession. It would after all be a return to more traditional conservative values to leave well-alone.   

However, we cannot count on this happening. Colleagues and I have spoken extensively with advisors in Downing Street and Conservative Party HQ and it seems clear that, personal politics notwithstanding, the party machine sees this as a definite vote winner. Despite what we know about landlords voting intentions.

It’s vital that individual landlords make their voices heard on Section 21. The NLA Policy Team has created a guide to help you to contact your MP to raise your concerns about the Government’s proposed changes. Download the guide here.

What does this mean for landlords?

So what do we do now? Well first we get to work on the candidates. Fortunately amongst the runners we have: 

  • a former housing minister (Dominic Raab),  

  • a former shadow housing minister (Michael Gove),  

  • a former secretary of state for housing (Sajid Javid),  

  • a former secretary of state for welfare (Esther McVey); and 

  •  a former London Mayor (Boris Johnson)  

all of whom have a relevant track record on housing or related issues and have at one point or another worked directly with the NLA in search of a solution to one problem or another. 

We'll be sure to pin down whoever succeeds in succeeding Theresa May on their approach to policy, and find out what they will do to try to regain landlords’ trust.  

Although Brexit will rob whoever takes over of any potential honeymoon period, new leaders like to stamp their authority on issues soon after taking office so we need to make sure that private renting is front of mind in the coming weeks. 

Of course, s21 is not the only issue of importance this month. I had the pleasure of attending a roundtable hosted on behalf of the Prime Minister at Downing Street this week, which focussed on the Government’s desire to see an end to ‘no-DSS’ advertisements for housing. Amongst the representatives of banks, rental portals, insurers, and letting agents there was a great deal of agreement that many barriers to letting can be overcome.

What else is happening in UK housing?

However, it was left to the NLA to point out to both the housing and welfare ministers that even after all of the restrictive terms in insurance and mortgage policies are eradicated, if the amount of Universal Credit (or Local Housing Allowance or Housing Benefit or whatever it gets called next) is too low to pay the rent landlords will not grant a tenancy. To give them credit both ministers and their officials agreed that affordability ‘is a problem’ but none were confident that the money would be made available by whoever takes up residence next in neighbouring Number 11. There is no easy solution to this, but with a Government Spending Review around the corner, the NLA will be working with members and ministers to ensure that landlords are treated better by the next settlement than they were by the last. More on that when we know who will be the next First Lord of the Treasury.

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14 June 2019 - 8:00am

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