What do the elections mean for the private rented sector?
Just over three weeks since the Boris Johnson administration delivered its first Queen’s Speech outlining the Government’s legislative ambitions, Parliament has been dissolved and campaigning for the General Election has officially begun.
This is one of the most unpredictable elections in recent history. If we thought the 2015 or 2017 elections caused a stir, there's no telling what kind of reaction Parliament will be faced with when voting completes on Friday 13th December.
The parties are yet to launch their official manifestoes, but we can anticipate some of the angles the main national parties will take. Here’s what to look out for on housing.
Conservatives housing predictions
The Queen’s Speech brought some good news for landlords – no mention of the abolition of Section 21. On the other hand, there was no mention of housing at all. The Government consultation on abolishing Section 21 and making assured tenancies the default in England closed on 12th October. It will be for the next Government to analyse the responses and set out their policy plans.
The Conservatives have focused their housing policy on increasing house-building and home ownership – so far, so predictable. But in contrast to Theresa May’s Government, Johnson’s team has remained tight-lipped on the private rented sector (PRS). At the last minute, the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced an extra £3.8 million to support local authority enforcement against rogue landlords. But, as our Chief Executive Officer, Richard Lambert said: “Local authorities need far more substantial and consistent support and funding to be able to enforce properly in the PRS and rid the sector of the criminals operating within it.”
Labour housing predictions
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn kicked off Labour’s unofficial campaign by pledging to ‘go after’ the ‘tax dodgers’, the ‘dodgy landlords’ and the ‘bad bosses’. Furthermore, John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, has expanded on the headline announcement earlier in the autumn that Labour would introduce a ‘right to buy’ for private tenants. This week, he told The Times that the policy would only apply to landlords with more than ‘one or two’ rental properties.
We can expect more from Labour on private renting over the course of the campaign, but whether it becomes an issue on the doorstep is yet to be seen.
Liberal Democrats housing predictions
The Lib Dem peer, Baroness Grender, introduced a bill to the House of Lords for the abolition of Section 21 shortly before Parliament agreed to hold a General Election.
This bill will now ‘fall’ – effectively get cancelled by the dissolution of Parliament – but it indicates the Liberal Democrat commitment to the policy, which they voted for in their recent party conference. The Lib Dems will be seeking to entrench the support of younger voters, who tend to be more pro-remain – and addressing Section 21 could be a tool to do so on the domestic front.
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