The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has a new top team. What does it mean for the private rented sector?
Michael Gove's appointment as the DLUHC’s new Secretary of State could be a sign that the government’s rental reform agenda is still on track. Gove oversaw the release of the A Fairer Private Rented Sector, and has confirmed since his reappointment that he is still committed to it.
So far, though, the government hasn’t set a timeline. At a House of Commons debate earlier this month, new housing minister Felicity Buchan would only confirm that rental reform would happen “in due course” – although she said that the government is determined to deliver a new deal for landlords and tenants.
Time isn’t on the government’s side. The next election has to take place by the end of 2024, leaving limited time to fit in rental reform along with other priorities like responding to the cost of living crisis. And it may be some way down the priority list: Theresa May’s government first announced a private rented sector reform bill in April 2019, but while it has stayed on the government’s agenda it has never been brought to a vote in Parliament.
The rental reform agenda hasn’t been helped by regular ministerial changes. No Secretary of State at the department has lasted for two years since 2015, including Gove last time he was in the role.
That lack of continuity is a big concern for the industry. Last week the head of Build to Rent platform Love to Rent called on the government to appoint a full-time private rented sector minister to drive rental regulation – although the quick turnover of ministers at the department means that this may not change much.
If the Conservative government doesn’t get around to rental reform, an incoming Labour one might if they win. Labour’s housing spokesperson Matthew Pennycook said last week that his party would go further than the reforms set out in the white paper. As well as scrapping Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, the party wants limits on in-tenancy rent increases as well as a stronger charter of renters’ rights.
Other policy headlines
Michael Gove commits to 300,000 housebuilding target – Property Industry Eye
Sadiq Khan to hold emergency private renting summit – Evening Standard
Wales extends no-fault notice periods for existing tenants from June – Mortgage Strategy