On 2 February 2022, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove unveiled the government’s Levelling Up White Paper. This document outlines plans to ‘transform the UK’ and change how the government system works. The levelling up for landlords and the private rented sector includes a new Decent Homes Standard to improve property conditions, a register for all landlords, and the aforementioned removal of Section 21, but how will these plans impact landlords and renters?
What is the government Levelling Up White Paper?
The Levelling Up White Paper is essentially a plan of the government’s commitments. The aim is to “spread opportunity and prosperity” to all parts of the country with 12 bold “levelling up missions” to shift government focus to “Britain’s forgotten communities”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the White Paper “marks a significant milestone in ensuring his government deliver on the people’s priorities”.
The White Paper is set to:
- Be the biggest shift of power from Whitehall to local leaders in modern times announced – every part of England to get ‘London style’ powers and mayor if they wish to
- Begin a decade-long project to level up Britain, with radical new policies announced across the board
- Increase domestic public investment in Research & Development by at least 40% across the North, Midlands, South West, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
Read the latest Renters Reform Bill White Paper: A Fairer Private Rented Sector
How does the government Levelling Up White Paper impact the rental sector?
The 2022 Levelling Up The United Kingdom White Paper features “12 missions to level up the UK” – one of which is to give renters a secure path to home ownership.
By 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas; and the government’s ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50%, with the biggest improvements in the lowest-performing areas.
Part of this plan to ‘transform’ the private rented sector includes the introduction of a Decent Homes Standard for all rental properties, as well as a landlord register and a ‘crackdown’ on fines and bans on rogue landlords. As anticipated, Section 21 will be removed with hopes to “end the unfair situation where renters can be kicked out of their homes for no reason”.
- Levelling up for landlords – Decent Homes Standard
- Levelling up for landlords – National Register for Landlords
- Levelling up for landlords – Removal of Section 21
Levelling up for landlords – Decent Homes Standard for rental properties
The government has pledged to improve the overall quality of housing in the UK by 2030.
Poor housing quality, overcrowding and reliance on temporary accommodation for vulnerable families also contribute to unnecessarily poor health and quality of life for many. We will take action on two fronts. First, building more housing in England, including more genuinely affordable social housing. Second, we will launch a new drive on housing quality to make sure homes are ft for the 21st century.
The government also intends to introduce new legislation to “Improve the quality and regulation of social housing” by giving residents performance information so that they can hold their landlord to account and take effective action to put things right.
The Decent Homes Standard will be introduced in a landmark White Paper this spring.
Levelling up for landlords – National Register for Landlords
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has also announced plans to “explore a National Landlord Register”. There is no further mention of this topic, other than it being part of the government’s 2030 goal of decreasing the “number of non-decent rented homes” by 50%.
Levelling up for landlords – Abolition of Section 21
The White Paper further affirms the government’s plans to abolish Section 21. This change is part of the government’s plans to “reset the relationship between landlords and tenants”, but no other details are included in the Levelling Up White Paper.
The removal of Section 21 will be part of the Renter’s Reform Bill – of which another White Paper is expected this spring.
Currently, tenants can be evicted in a rolling periodic tenancy or at the end of a fixed-term tenancy without giving a reason. Instead, the Renter’s Reform proposes strengthening the grounds of Section 8 – improving the grounds for possession and the overall court process.
David Cox, Legal and Compliance Director of Rightmove, commented:
“Depending on what the government come forward within the Renters’ Reform white paper, [the abolition of Section 21] might actually be better for us going forward.”
“We hold onto Section 21 because that’s what we’ve had, but it’s not the best system. It hasn’t ever been the best system because you basically have to take the view of ‘I’m going to lose all my money, I’ve just got to get the tenant out”.
“Whereas if we have a reformed Section 8, where the landlord gets their money back or at least gets some of their money back, that could be better going forward, providing they fix the court system alongside fixing the law.”
What other levelling up plans are there for the property sector?
Redirection of funding for housing
The ‘80/20 rule’ which leads to 80% of government funding for housing supply being directed at ‘maximum affordability areas’ – in practice, London and the South East – will be scrapped, with much of the £1.8 billion brownfield funding instead being diverted to transforming brownfield sites in the North and Midlands. The Metro Mayors will be allocated £120 million of this funding.
Boost for home ownership
Home ownership will be boosted due to a new £1.5 billion Levelling Up Home Building Fund being launched, which will provide loans to SMEs and support the UK government’s wider regeneration agenda in areas that are a priority for levelling up.
Poor energy efficiency will be tackled with targetted funding for the worst-performing homes and “those least able to pay”.
Commitment for social housing
The government will further commit to building more genuinely affordable social housing. A new Social Housing Regulation Bill will deliver upon the commitments the government made following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017.
What are your thoughts about the Levelling Up White Paper?
The White Paper has brought forward new measures and confirmed already-rumoured plans for the private rented sector, but what are your thoughts on the government’s plans?