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What landlords can expect from the new Labour government

Sir Keir and Lady Starmer in front of 10 Downing Street.

With Labour’s landslide victory in the 2024 General Election, what can landlords in England expect in terms of both the content and pace of rental reform?

This blog posts pulls together what Labour promised in their election manifesto, in speeches during the campaign, and statements made when the Renters Reform Bill was going through parliament.

Keir Starmer has not only appointed Deputy PM, Angela Rayner, to be the Secretary of State for what will be a high profile Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, but he has also appointed Matthew Pennycook as Minister of State for Levelling Up.

Matthew Pennycook was Shadow Housing Minister from December 2020 to until the General Election, and ably shepherded the Renters Reform Bill and the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024 through the House of Commons for Labour. This is not a minister who will need to start from scratch.

Angela Rayner has confirmed that “levelling up” will be dropped from name of Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities. The department will be called the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. On 8 July, The Guardian quoted a source saying: “We agree with the principle of levelling up, but it [the name] was a gimmicky branding exercise. We’ll be taking the Ronseal approach. It will do what it says on the tin.”

I will keep this page updated as the new government publishes more information on their plans for rental reform.

Last updated: 9 July 2024

>> Related Post: What the King’s Speech says about the new Renters’ Rights Bill

>> Podcast Show Notes: Good Landlording – Introducing the new Renters’ Rights Bill

A reminder of what Labour promised in their election manifesto

Here is a reminder of the commitments in Labour’s 2024 election manifesto about the private rented sector (my use of bold):

Security also means having a secure roof over your head. That is not the case for too many renting their homes privately.

Labour will legislate where the Conservatives have failed, overhauling the regulation of the private rented sector.

We will immediately abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, prevent private renters being exploited and discriminated against, empower them to challenge unreasonable rent increases, and take steps to decisively raise standards, including extending ‘Awaab’s Law’ to the private sector.

>> Related Post: Labour’s plans for energy efficiency and EPCs

Will Labour bring in emergency legislation to abolish Section 21?

Many landlords have been concerned that the use of the word “immediately” means that Labour would somehow abolish Section 21 in the week after the King’s Speech. However, this cannot happen, and the word “immediately” is more an indication that it is a priority, and is likely to be one of the first Acts of parliament of the Labour government.

It is worth pointing out that it might have been technically possible to abolish Section 21 immediately, had the Renters Reform Bill received Royal Assent before the election. This is because Labour would have been able to bring forward the implementation date in regulations.

However, the fact the Bill fell in the run up to the election means that Labour will need to start again, and take a new Bill through both houses of parliament.

It would be possible for Labour to pass a very short Bill that would simply “omit” Section 21 from the Housing Act 1988 by itself, or by omitting the entirety of Chapter 2 of Part 1 (assured shorthold tenancies), which was in Clause 2 of the Renters Reform Bill. However, it is more likely that Labour would not stop there, not least because of their manifesto commitment to “overhaul” the regulation of the PRS.

Either way, the Bill would need to go through the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and that would take time.

>> Related Post: When will Labour abolish Section 21?

When will Labour introduce a new Renters Reform Bill?

Labour’s manifesto refers to “overhauling the regulation of the private rented sector”, and Keir Starmer said recently to the Money Saving Expert “we’ll pass strong new laws to level the playing field between landlords and tenants.”

Apart from the items above (abolishing Section 21, increasing tenants’ rights to challenge rent increases, and extending Awaab’s Law to the private rented sector, Labour give no further information on how they would change the regulation of the PRS, or wich “strong new laws” would “level the playing field”.

Clearly it is not possible to pass primary legislation immediately after the election, but this is a strong signal that some sort of rental reform that includes the abolition of Section 21 will be in the King’s Speech on 17 July 2024.

What we know for certain that Labour will include in a new Renters Reform Bill

Labour’s manifesto has made clear that they will include the following in new laws that regulate the private rented sector:

  • The abolition of Section 21. We don’t know if they would make any changes to Section 8, along the lines that the Conservatives included in the Renters Reform Bill: How the Renters Reform Bill proposed changing Section 8.
  • Challenging rent increases. Reading between the lines, renters would be given greater rights to challenge rent increases in the First-tier Tribunal. It’s not clear if this would be limited to rent increases made under Section 13, but it is likely that the tribunal would not be able to increase the rent if they found that the proposed rent was below market value.
  • Anti-discrimination laws. The Renters Reform Bill included wording that would prevent landlords from discriminating against applicants who were in receipt of housing benefits or who were families. It is likely that a new Bill would include similar wording.
  • End rent “bidding wars”. Whilst not in their manifesto, this commitment was mentioned by Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and Matthew Pennycook during the election campaign. Labour tabled an amendment in the Renters Reform Bill that would prohibit landlords (or those acting on their behalf) from “inviting or encouraging bids that exceed the amount stated as part of the advertisement or offer of the premises” – see amendment NC7.
  • Extend Awaab’s Law to the PRS. This was in Labour’s manifesto, and was also one of the amendments they tabled to the Renters Reform Bill: see amendment NC10. For more detail on what Awaab’s Law is, see: Awaab’s Law and other new social housing laws.

>> Useful Resource: Blog post by David Smith – “Rental bidding: New Zealand law in the UK

Will Labour control rent increases in England?

Whilst Labour’s manifesto did not mention rent controls as such, Keir Starmer made the following commitments relating to rent during the campaign:

  • Ending “rental bidding wars”.
  • Capping the amount of rent requested upfront (presumably this means advance rent and not a change to the tenancy deposit).
  • Allowing tenants to “challenge unreasonable rent hikes” (currently this is only possible if the landlord uses a Section 13 notice).
  • Changing the way in which the First-tier Tribunal works when a tenant challenges a Section 13 notice so that the tribunal will not be able to increase the rent if it’s below market value, and the landlord will need to pay court costs if they increase rent without using an official notice (presumably a Section 13 notice). Neither of these provisions were in the Renters Reform Bill.

Here is the direct quote from Keir Starmer on controlling rent, and the a link to the source:

On rents, we’ll end rental bidding wars, so landlords can no longer pit hopeful renters against each other in a fight to see who can offer up a bigger sum. Labour will also end massive upfront payments, by capping the amount of rent requested upfront, forcing renters to turn to the bank of mum and dad just to get into the rental market.  

Finally, we’ll put power back in tenants’ hands so that they can challenge unreasonable rent hikes. We’ll let tenants recover costs in courts when their landlord increases their rent without issuing an official notice. We’ll also give tenants a minimum of two months to terminate their contract in cases when a landlord increases rent disproportionately. And we’ll go further to ensure that tenants who take an unfair rent rise to court won’t see the increase after the court has ruled.

What else might Labour include in a new Renters Reform Bill?

Matthew Pennycook and Angela Rayner during the debate at the Report Stage of the Renters Reform Bill in the House of Commons
Matthew Pennycook and Angela Rayner during the Report Stage debate of the Renters Reform Bill

The amendments proposed by Labour when the Renters Reform Bill was going through the House of Commons indicate how their version of rental reforms might differ from the Renters Reform Bill 1.0. These are the amendments that I have not already mentioned in this blog post:

  • Landlords would not be able to move in (themselves or their family) or sell up within the first two years of a tenancy, compared to the 6 months in the Bill – amendment 255.
  • Landlords would not be able to relet the property after relying on Ground 1 (landlord/family moving in) or Ground 1A (landlord selling up) for 12 months, compared to the Conservative proposal for 3 months to 12 months for the “restricted period” – amendment 35.
  • The new Mandatory Ground 8A relating to repeated rent arrears would become a Discretionary Ground – amendment 19.
  • The First-tier Tribunal would be to make rent repayment orders for additional specific breaches – amendment NC31.
  • New right for a tenant to reclaim “any increased rent” from a private landlord through a debt claim if the landlord increases the rent without issuing a Section 13 notice (or Section 13A notice for low cost tenancies) – amendment 21.
  • When a rent assessment is carried out by a tribunal, the tribunal cannot decide the rent should be higher than the rent requested by a landlord in their Section 13 notice – amendment 22.
  • The PRS Database must include details of notices of possession served by a landlord for each property of which they are the landlord – amendment 27.
  • Landlords (or those acting on their behalf) would be prohibited from “inviting or encouraging bids that exceed the amount stated as part of the advertisement or offer of the premises” – amendment NC7.

8 thoughts on “What landlords can expect from the new Labour government”

  1. John Rowlandss

    What do you expect to happen for leasehold property with ground rent increases subject to doubling clauses?

  2. Thank you for your content. The clarity it brings in a time of change is very helpful and reassuring as a new landlord.

  3. I have heard that there may be a new rule imposed in which landlords would be expected to sell their property to the tenent should they show the means of being able to afford it under new labour legislations, is this true?

    Thank you for your very helpful post

    1. That is not in the Labour Manifesto, so I don’t think it’s correct.

      But it’s a good idea for landlords to ask tenants if they want to buy the property before they put it on the market. Saves the estate agency fees and a lot of hassle with viewings, as well as being good for the tenants

  4. with the new S21 abolished – if landlord is experiencing hardship or illness , how is one expected to word it in order for courts to approve possession and vacant the tenant?
    Also I have just been through S8 rent arrears and the Judge removed the Son aged 22 from possession simply asking him to leave, because his name was not included in the tenancy agreement , if he refuses to leave saying he has invoices on this address would it mean I would have to evict him yet again? and would that under squatters law?

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