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What does the Queen’s Speech mean for landlords?

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The Queen’s Speech sets out the Government’s legislative agenda at the start of the Parliamentary year. Each year, the Queen (this year, Prince Charles) highlights the key pieces of legislation the Government intends to introduce that year.

This year’s Queen’s Speech included the much-anticipated Renters Reform Bill, which has major implications for landlords and their right to possession of their property.

The purpose of this Bill is to fulfil the Conservative Party’s manifesto to abolish ‘no-fault’ section 21 evictions and strengthen landlords’ rights of possession. It also intends to deliver on the Levelling Up mission to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030 and create a rental market that is fairer and more effective for tenants and landlords.  

The Government originally consulted  on these changes in mid-2019 but it is still yet to publish the outcome of that consultation.

The main elements of this Bill are:  

  • Abolishing so-called ‘no fault’ evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, which the Government say will provide security for tenants in the PRS and empower them to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without fear of retaliatory eviction
  • Reforming possession grounds for landlords, introducing new and stronger grounds for repeated incidences of rent arrears and reducing notice periods for anti-social behaviour, ensuring that they can regain their property efficiently when needed 
  • Applying the legally binding Decent Homes Standard in the PRS for the first time ever, giving tenants safer, better quality and better value homes
  • Introduce a new Ombudsman for private landlords so that disputes can easily be resolved without the need to go to court, which is often costly and lengthy, and ensure that when residents make a complaint, landlords take action to put things right
  • Introducing a new property portal to help landlords understand their obligations, give tenants performance information to hold their landlord to account as well as aiding local authorities

Full details are yet to be published, but it is expected that a white paper containing these details will be published in the near future.  

Other bills of potential interest to landlords include:

Social Housing Regulation Bill  

The Government will introduce a Bill to increase housing tenants’ rights to better homes and enhance their ability to hold their landlords to account, addressing some of the concerns that the Grenfell Tower tragedy raised. The measures in this Bill were first proposed in the 2020 social housing White Paper in which the Government set out its vision to improve the social housing sector in the UK. It also comes following the recent announcement  that failing social housing providing sub-standard housing and services would be publicly called out on the government’s website and across social media channels. 

The main elements of the Bill are:  

  • Enabling the Regulator to intervene with landlords who are performing poorly on consumer issues, such as complaints handling and decency of homes, and to act in the interest of tenants to make sure issues are rectified
  • Enabling the Regulator to inspect landlords to make sure they are providing tenants with the quality of accommodation and services that they deserve
  • Creating new Tenant Satisfaction Measures which allow tenants to see how their landlord is performing compared to other landlords and to help the Regulator decide where to focus its attention
  • Ensuring tenants of housing associations will be able to request information from their landlord in a similar way to how the Freedom of Information Act works for tenants of Local Authority landlords 
  • Guaranteeing that the Regulator will be able to act more quickly where it has concerns about the decency of a home. They will only be required to give 48 hours’ notice to a landlord before a survey is carried out
  • Providing powers for the Regulator to arrange emergency repairs of tenants’ homes following a survey and where there is evidence of systemic failure by the landlord. This will ensure that serious issues are resolved rapidly where a landlord is unable or unwilling to act
  • Ensuring there will be no cap on the fines that the Regulator can issue to a landlord who fails to meet required standards

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill  

February 2022 saw the publication of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ key document, the levelling up White Paper, which set out the Government’s priorities and intention to spread opportunity more equally across the UK, as well as bolster economic growth.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is the beginning of legislating the aims of this White Paper. It is intended to focus on the regeneration of towns and cities and improve the planning system to give communities a ‘louder’ voice, making sure developments are ‘beautiful’, green, and accompanied by new infrastructure and affordable housing.  

The main elements of the Bill are:  

  • Placing a duty on the Government to set Levelling Up missions and produce an annual report updating the country on delivery of these missions 
  • Creating a new model of combined authority: the ‘County Deal’ to provide local leaders with powers to enhance local accountability, join up services and provide transparent decision making to rejuvenate their communities and increase their ability to reflect local preferences in arrangements including directly elected leaders’ titles
  • Giving new powers for local authorities to bring empty premises into use and instigate rental auctions of vacant commercial properties in town centres and on high streets 
  • Strengthening neighbourhood planning and digitising systems to make local plans easier to find and engage with; making it easier for local authorities to get local plans in place with the aim of limiting speculative development 

Housing Reform  

The Government state they will be taking forward a ‘comprehensive’ programme of reform to improve fairness and transparency in the leasehold market, part of a wider housing reform agenda to ‘level up’ homeownership.  

The main elements are:

  • The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022  will come into force on 30 June. This means that landlords will be prevented from requiring a financial ground rent in most new long residential leases  
  • The Leasehold Reform is seen as the first part of their programme to implementing leasehold and common hold reform, which will include: 
    • Transforming the experience of leaseholders by making it easier and cheaper for them to extend their lease or buy their freehold, and simpler and quicker to take control of the management of their building 
    • Better protecting leaseholders by giving them more information on what their costs cover and ensuring they are not subject to unjustified legal costs and can claim legal costs from their landlord 
    • Banning new leasehold houses so all new houses are freehold from the outset  
    • Delivering a reformed commonhold system, as an alternative to leasehold ownership
  • The Government will further commit to working closely with the Competition and Markets authority, with their investigation into mis-selling and unfair terms in the leasehold sector continuing

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