One of the central planks of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration has been the promise to “level up” opportunities across a whole spectrum of economic and social spheres – to “transform the UK”.
Some long-awaited detail about what this will involve and how it will be achieved was published in a major White Paper released by Michael Gove MP on the 2nd of February.
Levelling Up: the impact for landlords
Housing is one of those essential spheres of UK life that will be subject to the drive for Levelling Up. Inevitably, therefore, this can be expected to impact landlords and their buy to let businesses:
Section 21 to be scrapped
- Section 21 of the Housing Act currently grants landlords the right to repossess their property and evict sitting tenants without the need to give any reason or justification for the action. For that reason, they have become known as “no-fault” evictions;
- Levelling Up plans mention the government’s intention to scrap Section 21 when the Renters’ Reform Bill is laid before Parliament later this year;
- while landlords have naturally welcomed the relative ease with which repossessions can be made in this way, others have argued that it leaves tenants with an unacceptable degree of uncertainty about when they might be evicted – and some tenants have even chosen not to press for essential repairs to be made in case it prompts repossession by the landlord;
- abolition of Section 21 will “reset the relationship between landlords and tenants” claims the Levelling Up White Paper;
- Levelling Up is also about ensuring that all individuals can count on a decent standard of housing – and the current proposals focus on all private rented accommodation meeting the already published Decent Homes Standard;
- while endorsing the principle that every tenant has the right to expect a home in safe and secure rented accommodation, in a commentary on the 2nd of February, the National Residential Landlords’ Association (NRLA) insisted that the Decent Homes Standard is an inappropriate measure to use;
- the NRLA argues that the proposed standard was designed to be applied to housing n the social rented sector and, so, fails to consider the differences between this and the private rented sector, together with the type and age of the respective properties;
- with respect to landlords’ compliance with existing legislation and regulations – just as much as the maintenance of decent housing standards – the NRLA also welcomes the Levelling Up White Paper’s promise to crack down on rogue landlords;
- rogue landlords undermine the reputation rightly maintained by the vast majority of landlords, insists the NRLA;
- one of the concrete proposals to appear in the White Paper, as a way of monitoring and managing rogue landlords, is the possibility of a national register – with market commentators looking forward to more detail about how such a register might work.
The Levelling Up ambitions and goals are designed to reshape practically every aspect of contemporary life – every corner of the UK can be expected to feel the proposed changes. The private rented sector is no exception and landlords will do well to keep an eye on how Levelling Up further affects their businesses.