There were three main commitments linked to housing in the Government’s announcement; the Renters’ Reform Bill which will end unfair evictions; the Social Housing Regulation Bill which will give tenants more rights and vital reforms to the way leasehold homeownership works
Jonathan Rolande, from the National Association of Property Buyers, slammed the Government measures announced by Prince Charles as “neither new nor radical”.
He said: “They say that big problems require big solutions. Housing is certainly a big problem, with millions unable to buy a property feeling simultaneously envious of the ten years of gains made by their home owning neighbours.
“Others feel insecure in rented property and seemingly at the mercy of landlords able to increase rents or evict on a whim to sell up and bank big profits.
“The ideas set out today won’t help them. They were not new or radical. Giving leaseholders improved rights to buy a freeholder out is good, but helps those already in a home.
“Offering housing association tenants more involvement in the way their homes are managed and perhaps a chance to buy their home is a nice idea, but it was first proposed five years ago.
“Banning Section 21 is a crowd pleaser and will give some tenants more security. But landlords will still be able to increase rent and evict if they want to, either because the tenants break some rules or to sell or occupy the property themselves at the end of the agreed term.
“Landlords tend not to like new rules and many may now quit the market ahead of the changes which could then ironically lead to a falling supply of rental homes.
“Of course the devil is in the details, we must wait to see how these policies are brought into force and then assess the effect they may have. But I feel disappointed that there seem to be no bold, fresh ideas here – they are simply old policies re-hashed and current systems tinkered with.
“But none of this may matter – the most momentous changes to the UK property market will be caused not by government intervention but by forces much stronger – the cost of living crisis, inflation and upward interest rates are likely to change everything.”
The Queen’s Speech outlines the government’s legislative plans for the coming year. It confirmed that Ministers are set to introduce the long-awaited Social Housing Bill, as well as a Renters’ Reform Bill In documents accompanying the speech, ministers outlined some of the additional powers that will be given to the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) as part of the Social Housing Bill, including that it will be given the ability to arrange emergency repairs within tenants’ homes.
This will occur following a survey and where there is evidence of systemic failure by the landlord, the government said.
The Social Housing Bill is being introduced in response to the Grenfell Tower fire and comes one-and-a-half years after the Social Housing White Paper,
The bill will legislate to massively expand the powers of the RSH to intervene in consumer matters, such as disrepair.
Some of the changes being brought in as part of the bill include giving the regulator the power to act more quickly when it has concerns about the decency of a home, with landlords now only being given 48 hours’ notice before an inspection is carried out.
The RSH will also be able to issue uncapped fines to landlords that fail to meet standards and housing association tenants will be able to request information from their landlord in a similar way to how the Freedom of Information Act works for council tenants.
The Queen’s Speech also confirmed that a Renters’ Reform Bill will be introduced to abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions in the private rented sector.
The bill will apply the legally binding Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector and introduce a new ombudsman for private landlords.
There also appeared to be a mention of the widely mooted “infrastructure levy” as part of the government’s new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.
Under the benefits of the bill it states that a system will be put in place to “better capture financial value created by development with a locally set, non-negotiable levy” to deliver the the infrastructure that communities need, such as housing but also schools, GP surgeries and new roads.
An infrastructure levy has previously been mooted as a replacement to the existing section 106 system, and promised to give local authorities greater flexibility over how funds raised by developments could be spent.