Home » General Election: What happens to rental and leasehold reform now?

General Election: What happens to rental and leasehold reform now?

Matthew Pennycook on the election trail - from his X account
Labour’s Matthew Pennycook on the election trail (Photo from his X feed)

This blog post is a guide to the implications of the 2024 General Election for landlords and the wider private rented sector.

The General Election comes at a crucial time for the landlords and the private rented sector, with two significant pieces of legislation (the much delayed Renters Reform Bill and the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill) both going through the House of Lords on the day the election was called.

Whereas the Renters Reform Bill was dropped, the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act made it onto the statute book as part of the “wash-up” on 24 May, albeit without the promised reforms to ground rent, the Renters Reform Bill was dropped.

We are in a protracted period of uncertainty, with parliament not likely to get going in earnest until after the summer recess and the party conference season.

I explore in this blog post what the General Election may have in store for landlords and renters, and what is likely to happen with renter reforms. I also discuss the latest on the reforms to leasehold.

Things move quickly in an election, and I will regularly update this blog post.

Last updated: 30 May 2024

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>> Show Notes: Good Landlording – What the manifestos say about rental reform

Goodbye to the Renters Reform Bill

The Renters Reform Bill was abandoned by the Government in the rush to clear the decks before parliament was prorogued on 24 May 2004.

The Bill cannot be “revived” as Bills cannot be carried over after parliament is dissolved ahead of an election. Whoever wins the General Election will need to start afresh.

What happens now to rental reform?

The story of reform to the private rented sector may not end with the demise of the Renters Reform Bill. Version 2.0 may well come back in some shape.

What is Labour’s approach to rental reform?

Although we do not yet know exactly what Labour would do to reform the private rented sector if they win, in a well-timed keynote speech on housing on 21 May 2024, Angela Rayner reiterated Labour’s commitment to “ban no fault evictions, no ifs, no buts”.

Beyond this, it is not yet clear whether Labour would just focus on the abolition of Section 21, and refuse to amend Section 8 to allow landlords to regain possession if they want to sell their property. The recent report by Stephen Cowan called for the “end to no-fault evictions, including back-door no fault evictions”. Although the report had been commissioned by Labour, the conclusions of the report have not been endorsed by the Labour Party.

In the debate at the Report Stage of the Renters Reform Bill in the House of Commons, Matthew Pennycook, the Shadow Housing Minister, said “Landlords need robust grounds for possessions in legitimate circumstances, and they need the system to operate quickly when they do”.

It is currently uncertain whether Labour would abolish Section 21, without amending Section 8 to allow landlords to regain possession if they want to sell, the new Ground 1A in the Bill, which is something they have termed a “no fault” eviction.

When the matter was discussed during the Report Stage, Labour’s amendment did not seek to remove the new Ground 1A, but proposed amending it so that a landlord could not re-let the property for 12 months after relying on Ground 1 (landlord/family moving in) or Ground 1A (landlord selling up), instead of the 3 months in the Bill. (See amendment 35).

Matthew Pennycook has given a strong indication on X today that they will push forward with renter reform legislation:

>> Related Post: What are Labour’s policies for the Private Rented Sector?

Would the Conservatives continue with renter reforms if they win the election?

The Conservatives failed to deliver on their “Better Deal for Renters”promise to the electorate in their 2019 Election Manifesto, as the Renters Reform Bill did not make it onto the statute book before the election. As a reminder, here is what their 2019 Election Manifesto said:

We will bring in a Better Deal for Renters, including abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions and only requiring one ‘lifetime’ deposit which moves with the tenant. This will create a fairer rental market: if you’re a tenant, you will be protected from revenge evictions and rogue landlords, and if you’re one of the many good landlords, we will strengthen your rights of possession

We don’t yet know whether the 2024 Conservative Election Manifesto will include a commitment to renter reforms, given they didn’t deliver on the commitment in their 2019 manifesto, due to ructions in the party about the abolition of Section 21.

It is also significant that Michael Gove will not be standing again, as he was the driving force behind the renter reforms. It is possible that the Conservatives will drop renter reforms entirely from their 2024 manifesto.

>> Related Post: What are the political parties’ policies on private renting?

What about leasehold reform?

Unlike the Renters Reform Bill, the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act made it onto the statute book on 24 May.

This is good news for many private landlords, as 38% of all properties in the private rented sector are leasehold.

However, the Act did not include the restriction of ground rents to a peppercorn promised in the 2019 Election Manifesto. This reform was controversial, and the outcome of the consultation into the restriction of ground rent had not been published by the time the election was called on 22 May.

Although Labour supported the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill, Matthew Pennycook deemed it a “distinctly unambitious piece of legislation” during the Report Stage debate on 27 February.

We have not yet seen Labour’s policy for leasehold reform, but Matthew Pennycook committed on X to go further, and make commonhold the default form of tenure should Labour win the General Election:

>> Related Post: Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill: What happens now?

Final thoughts

With almost one fifth of the population (11 million) living in the private rented sector, and around 2.5 million landlords, renting promises to be a key issue in the General Election.

Many landlords have already been jittery about the abolition of Section 21 and other provisions in the Renters Reform Bill. However, many concessions had been made to landlords, including the new grounds for possession under Section 8, and a minimum 6-month tenancy.

Landlords will be keeping a close eye on what Labour says about its plans to reform the PRS, and decide to vote with their feet if they don’t like what they hear.

As for me, I’m sticking it out. I’m a long-term landlord with long-term tenants and I won’t be selling up.

I will keep this blog post updated as the General Election progresses.

Last updated: 31 May 2024

what the general election means for the private rented sector

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