Big estate agency boss calls for Renters (Reform) Bill to be scrapped

Leaders Romans Group MD Michael Cook also wants court, planning and greenbelt reform, an increase in social housing and an end to inheritance tax.

Michael Cook, Leaders Romans Group

Leaders Romans Group (LRG) is calling for the Renters (Reform) Bill to be scrapped and for the introduction of a National Plan so address serious failures in the planning system.

As the main political parties head into conference season the estate agent also wants to see the creation of dedicated housing courts to speed up the legal process as well as substantive policy changes covering the cost of moving, an increase in social housing, a sensible discussion on the greenbelt and an end to inheritance tax.


Michael Cook (main picture), LRG Managing Director, says: “In our view, the Renters (Reform) Bill is ill thought-through and would be detrimental to both landlords and tenants.

“The removal of Section 21 is unnecessary and damaging. As our research shows, Section 21 is rarely used for ‘no fault evictions’ and, as Shelter has said, the abolition of Section 21 won’t end unfair or no-fault evictions where they do occur.”

Cook says that while it is proposed that Section 8 of the Housing Act will replace Section 21 this will create less, not more security for tenants.

He adds: “It will also mean many more cases going through the courts which is costly, stressful and prone to considerable delay.

“We know there is widespread concern as to how the courts will facilitate effective possession hearings under these new grounds.”


Cook also says that moving all assured shorthold tenancies onto a single system of periodic tenancies would significantly reduce security for both landlord and tenants, spelling the end of long-term contacts and replacing them with just two months’ notice.

And he adds: “Abolishing clear fixed term tenancies seem to contradict the Government’s objective to provide families the ability to put down roots in local communities with the security of knowing they have certainty of tenancy for in most cases one year, but often two or three. Any detrimental changes to the sector could force landlords to leave the sector which would impact on supply, force rents up further and exacerbate homelessness.”


Allison Thompson, National Lettings Managing Director, agrees and says dedicated housing courts would speed up the legal process.

Allison Thompson, LRG National Lettings
Allison Thompson, LRG National Lettings

“Landlords are facing widespread and serious delays in the courts when seeking to regain possession of their properties,” she says.

“This will be exacerbated in future if the Renters (Reform) Bill is enacted, removing Section 21 of the Housing Act and replacing it with Section 8. A dedicated housing court would be the best way to address this serious backlog..”

Other directors from across LRG also put forward their views on what politicians need to change.


Kevin Shaw, National Sales Managing Director, says that from a sales perspective, change needs to be focused around the cost of moving.

Kevin Shaw, LRG National Sales
Kevin Shaw, LRG National Sales

“For house sales of £500,000 plus the current Stamp Duty thresholds are punitive and deter a lot of people from moving up market. This then prevents the freeing up smaller properties for either second-time buyers, first-time buyers or investors.”

Meanwhile Tim Foreman, Managing Director of Land and New Homes, says the serious delays and costs in the planning system need to be addressed.

He says: “We need a clearer more straight-forward planning policy to enable developers to obtain planning in a much less time consuming and expensive process.

Tim Foreman, LRG Land and New Homes
Tim Foreman, LRG Land and New Homes

“It would be helpful to have firm deadlines in place for local authorities’ planning decision-making and a clear and reasonable set of guidelines and criteria for developers and planning consultants to provide a more direct route to planning consent.

“New housing is already in short supply and with the recent turmoil in the market and planning process it is only going to get far worse – some developers are reducing their development starts and choosing not to buy land due to the current mess.”

“We could really do with some Government help with buying schemes – something like Help to Buy and/or stamp duty assistance to help get the market going again.”


Lawrence Turner, Director of Boyer, LRG’s planning consultancy, says a National Plan would allow for a national, long-term focus on planning that can bypass the short-termism that comes with political cycles.

Ian Barnett, LRG National Land
Ian Barnett, LRG National Land

Ian Barnett, LRG National Land Director, says the UK must move away from images of ‘concreting all over the Green Belt’ and create a better understanding of the issues.

“A review of the Green Belt is the only way in which housing numbers can be increased at scale but a review of the Green Belt does not necessary mean a reduction in the Green Belt, which is how it is often presented.

“It means that that areas worthy of protection are included and those which are not can potentially be repurposed – quite possibly in such a way that increases their aesthetic value.


And Daniel Gale, Head of Auctions at First For Auctions, also part of LRG, wants inheritance tax scrapped.

Daniel Gale, First For Auctions
Daniel Gale, First For Auctions

He says: “I believe that taxing people’s estates on death is wrong.

“I regularly see the pressures of families dealing with an estate and a tax man chasing for money with a limited timeframe.

“People are taxed on the income which buys the property, the fixtures within it and refurbishment costs.

“Also income if the property is let. With property prices varying considerably across the country, inheritance tax is grossly unfair and regressive, while also delaying movement in the property market.”

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