The Queen’s Speech, made today alongside the State Opening of Parliament, set out the Government’s agenda for the next session with a strong focus on plans to ‘build back better’ from the pandemic and pushing Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.
Let’s take a look at what was said about housing, and what it could signal for the sector in the year ahead.
The Queen announced “Laws [to modernise the planning system]…will be brought forward, along with measures to end the practice of ground rents for new leasehold properties.”
Escalating ground rents on leasehold homes have left many owners trapped; our 2018 ‘Leasehold: a Life Sentence’ research found that 46% of leasehold house owners weren’t aware of the increasing ground rent when they bought their home. This legislation will go a long way to help thousands of homeowners, but it also needs to be extended to those who already own a leasehold property as well as all retirement properties.
Modernising the planning system is good news for the sector to speed up builds, but it’s really important that the right homes are being built in the right places. We need more housing being built in affordable areas, currently most development is happening in areas that are too expensive for first-time buyers and lower income earners which doesn’t help the government with the next agenda -more homeownership. Homeownership is a big one for the Government and it will be interesting to see what measures are introduced, such as more low-deposit mortgage schemes.
“My Government will help more people to own their own home whilst enhancing the rights of those who rent.”
Intriguingly, ‘Renters Reforms’ is no longer being referred to as a Bill – and whilst change will certainly come, there is more talk about ‘exploring’ and ‘working with the sector’ with no whole scale changes to the courts being detailed.
“There has previously been a highly controversial focus on the abolishment of section 21 evictions (‘no-fault evictions’), and in the event of section 21 being removed, Propertymark has been pushing government to move to a system of mandatory grounds; reforming section 8 and creating a new specialist housing tribunal.
Government states Renters Reforms will also propose a new ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposit model, but to work, there needs to be a bridging loan guaranteeing the remaining part of the deposit and protecting landlords should the tenant default, and government should act as the guarantor to pay the difference.
The Government also want to drive enforcement within the sector to raise standards and will be evaluating the merits of a landlord register as well as redress schemes, stating they will publish a White Paper detailing this reform package in the autumn and Propertymark will be working closely with them, scrutinising the White Paper to ensure the best possible outcome for our members.