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What the Levelling Up White Paper means for the PRS


What does the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper mean for the private rented sector? Our Mortgages Managing Director, Richard Rowntree, shares his thoughts.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove recently unveiled the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper, labelled a flagship plan to transform the UK by spreading opportunity and prosperity to all parts of it.

Although seen as more of a statement of intent than a detailed framework for implementation, the 332-page document is one of the Government’s clearest commitments to a headline policy that is centred around 12 missions, each with targets to be delivered by 2030.

One of these missions is to see a ‘Rise in overall number of first-time homebuyers.’ and housing focused policy featured in other areas throughout the paper.

Richard Rowntree

Richard Rowntree
Managing Director for Mortgages

Pathway to homeownership from rental market

We support the ambitions to improve home ownership in the UK and have always recognised the benefits of a housing market made up of tenures with sufficient supply in each to enable people to freely move between, based on their needs at the time.

As part of this, we feel that it is important that measures to support home ownership are not to the detriment of the private rented sector (PRS) - it is vital that there are good quality options available for the significant number of those who cannot afford to, or don’t want to, own a home.

The PRS is already suffering from stock shortages across the country at a time of record tenant demand. This is being reflected in high levels of rental inflation and some people shut out of the sector.

Decent Homes Standard

In the paper, the Government revealed ambitious plans to raise standards in the PRS by requiring landlords to ensure their private rental properties meet the Decent Homes Standard.

‘By 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas; and the government’s ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50%, with the biggest improvements in the lowest-performing areas.’

The English Housing Survey shows that over the past 15 years landlords have made great strides in improving the quality of PRS homes - the percentage of privately rented homes in England classed as non-decent has fallen from 47% in 2006 to 21% today.

In the main, this improvement has been driven by landlords boosting the proportion of good quality homes to the PRS, rather than a significant reduction in the number of homes classed as poor.

Of course, more work needs to be done and we understand the important role of Paragon and other mortgage lenders. Through prudent lending, underpinned by accurate property valuation and meticulous underwriting, lenders can add a layer of quality control, only financing property that meets the required standards.

National Register of landlords

Plans to “explore a National Landlord Register” were also mentioned but, aside from it being part of the goal to see the number of non-decent rented homes fall by 50%, no further details were provided.

Levelling up for landlords – Abolition of Section 21

Another area of reform included in the White Paper was the abolition of Section 21 repossessions.

The Government has spoken for some time of their intention to end so-called ‘no fault evictions’ and took the opportunity to reiterate this in the paper.

Again, the Levelling Up White Paper detailed no more information on this, but it is widely expected that the White Paper on the Renter’s Reform Bill, expected to be published in the spring after a series of delays, will set out the Government’s plans for this legislation.

Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551