Pomp, ceremony and more rights for tenants – By Sim Sekhon
What the Queen’s Speech means for the lettings industry. The State Opening of Parliament was a little different this year with the Prince of Wales standing in for the Queen whose health prevented her attendance. The pomp, the ceremony and the rituals remained the same.
The Government is planning to introduce 38 new bills in this parliamentary session. Priorities are to strengthen the economy, ease the cost of living crisis and continue to defend democracy and freedom. No big surprises in the headlines, and few in the limited details of other intentions included in the Queen’s speech.
Those of us interested in property, will have registered the plans to support levelling up. Local leaders will be empowered to regenerate deprived areas, and there are plans to increase local resident involvement in the planning system. Illicit finance is also to be a focus, and we can perhaps expect more requirements on agents to prevent money laundering.
There was however a clear statement that legislation would be brought forward to improve the regulation of social housing, to ensure better quality, safer homes and crucially, to strengthen the rights of tenants.
We shouldn’t be surprised about this last point. Section 21 has been a hot topic for a while and abolition was suggested before the pandemic. The idea has gained traction and is now a rallying cry used by organisations like Shelter and Generation Rent.
There’s no time for details at the State Opening but details matter to landlords. We need to know that the mooted updates to Section 8 will cover certain grounds for eviction currently included within Section 21. We need to know how enforcement will work. While Section 21 is often painted in a bad light, most Landlords use it because they want to sell the property, upgrade it or move in themselves. Serving notice isn’t something landlords want to do, but it’s often the only option left open.
While the loss of Section 21 is concerning, I’m in favour of the Leasehold Act on its way in June. Everybody wants freehold properties without any leasehold traps.
I’ll also be happy to see any changes which create more trust in the sector and promote better Landlord/Tenant relationships.
As always I’ll be studying the detail of the whitepapers as they are released.