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COMMENT: Levelling Up – the industry reacts to White Paper

Property industry leaders including, agents, insurers, property managers, lenders and trade bodies react to Michael Gove's proposals.

Nigel Lewis

levelling up lettings

Yesterday the government revealed its levelling up plans for the UK economy and communities with a bewildering range of different measures many of which were new, and some recycled from previous initiatives and consultations.

And there was plenty in there for the property industry, whose letting agents and landlords are likely to take the brunt of the changes announced by housing secretary Michael Gove.

Although the PRS changes, which include a national landlord register, a crackdown on rogue landlords, more help for first time buyers, an enforceable minimum homes standard and abolishing Section 21, will have a direct effect on the market, many of the other levelling up proposals for the house building, transport, crime and education sectors, and the economy as a whole, will impact everyone involved in property sales and renting.

Here is how many of the leading organisations within the property industry have reacted to the proposals.

The agent

anthony reed levelling u[David Reed of Antony Roberts

“There are clear laws and increasing areas of safety standards presently that are in place for landlords to adhere to but more needs to be done to protect tenants facing dreadful conditions brought on by a landlord’s disregard of their contractual and statutory obligations,” he says.

“Will a ‘register’ of landlords help? All sounds good-spirited but the construct of this and qualifying grounds/legal process for ultimate entry may take a long time to reach, if at all.

“The underlying principle is that good landlords will act properly anyway, being conscious of their duties.  Meanwhile, the ‘rogues’ at the extremes will have as much regard for this as they presently do for the raft of statutory measures that are currently in place.  They will most probably ignore it all so the net result in terms of action could be very limited.

“Looking to the broader picture of section 21 Notices, I believe this is a good moment for consultation and due consideration with a view to maintaining a healthy private rental sector.

“A broad-brush approach toward simple abolition would damage the supply of property coming to the rental market. Without the ability to regain possession at all, landlords are less likely to offer their property for rental – and lead to less choice for tenants.”

The builder

jamie thomson gleesonJames Thomson, CEO of Gleeson Homes

“The levelling up agenda must prioritise affordability and supporting people on low incomes, getting them out of the rent trap, onto the housing ladder,” he says.

“By doing so, it removes the wealth inequality of those that rent versus those that buy.

“The financial benefits of home ownership combined with the security and pride of owning your own home, especially for first time buyers, is a natural kick-start to levelling up for many people.

“The Government must not lose sight of this and protect those on low incomes and key workers, ensuring there is enough affordable homes needed on the market in order to serve them.”

The trade body chief

Isobel Thomson imageIsobel Thomson, Chief Executive, Safeagent

“We do not believe there is anything to fear from landlord registration – you only need to look to the devolved nations who have already introduced it and the way in which agents have played an integral role,” she says.

“With a timescale for implementation of the measures as far away as 2030 though, consumers remain at risk.

“To make a difference, the crackdown on rogue landlords must be brought in quickly and have real teeth. Fines and bans only work if there is effective enforcement behind them. It is time to stop talking about what has to be done and just get on with it.”

The insurance industry boss

Eddie Hooker - Hamilton Fraser - imageEddie Hooker, CEO of Hamilton Fraser

“This is an ambitious long term plan containing a myriad of high level policy announcements aimed at sharing prosperity and power across the country and trying to end some of the unfairness of previous legislation.

“Big on soundbites but less on detail. But this is a launch announcement and no doubt further drilling down will happen over the coming months.

“From a private rental perspective, we all knew what the high-level announcements would be – ending of section 21 and the improvement of the condition of homes in the sector.

“The consultation around a landlord register is more interesting and I look forward to more detail on how and when any changes will be introduced.”

The mortgage broker

jamie thompson mortgagesJamie Thompson of Jamie Thompson Mortgages

“The Government loves a good ‘scheme’ to help first-time buyers. Just think of help-to-buy ISAs, help-to-buy equity loans and the mortgage guarantee scheme.

“When are they going to learn that all that needs to be done is build a lot more houses? If they want to make things easier then increase the supply, it’s simple economics.”

The property manager

Link to news of the property industry's movers and shakersMary-Anne Bowring, Group MD of Ringley 

“The government’s levelling-up white paper lacks serious ambition with little to no new money introduced to create a level playing field across the UK,” she says.

February 3, 2022

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