Levelling up white paper – what does it mean?

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Will it introduce rent control?

The white levelling up paper that the Government has just announced is to bring in a lot more regulations for landlords over the coming years.

There is already the renters reform bill which lays out various improvements that landlords will have to make. Together with being life time deposits and the scrapping of the section 21 notice.

The Government have now bought out a levelling up white paper to bring in even more legalisation and have now delayed the renters reform bill.

They will already be bringing in legalisation this year which means landlords will need to provide a CO2 detector even where they have a sealed gas boiler. This is being bought in under the health and safety executive together with other legalisation that is already in place.

However, there is now a growing call for a number of politicians and pressure groups in different parts of the United Kingdom for the position of rent control. There has been president decline in available rentals stock. In February 2019 there were over 120,000 properties available throughout the United Kingdom and this has now reduced to 50,000 in February 2022. This represents a fall of approximately 58%.

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This has started to increase quite dramatically the rents in most areas as there are substantially more tenants than there are properties available. This is mainly due to a lack of property together with people returning to work and therefore wanting to move back into a city. Letting agents are currently overwhelmed with demand and renters have no real bargaining room with the majority of lets. There have therefore been a huge amount of politicians that wish to place rent control. There are already mechanisms for tenants to refer the matter already.

The Scottish Government for instance have already proposed a new deal for tenants which has a various key proposal such as;

  1. Applying for an extension of range of rights protections currently employed by social rented tenants and the counter parts in the private sector.
  2. Making permanent restrictions on evictions which is supplied as an emergency measure in the early stages of the pandemic.
  3. Establishing a regulator for private rented sector.
  4. Implementing rent controls for private rented sectors.
  5. Setting minimum standards for energy efficiency and 0 emissions heating.

This has all been laid out by the Scottish Government and there is requirements from MP’s in England for them to follow. There are of course minimum requirements for the energy performance certificates which are being improved over the next few years.

Labour have said that there is a “national housing crisis posing big changes and tackling it remains one of their main priorities”.

Does this include going back to the old days of rent control?

This would mean that there would be a cap on the amount of rent that landlords could charge in any one particular area.

Rightmove currently state that rents have hit an annual growth of 9.9% per month outside of London. London is now starting to recover.

A lot of politicians have promoted various different schemes and proposals that have been muted such as;

  1. Increasing penalties for illegal evictions and strong enforcements.
  2. Restricting evictions during winter.
  3. National rent controls.
  4. Giving tenants greater flexibility to personalise their homes and keep pets.
  5. Introducing a new housing standard to apply to all homes.
  6. Establishing a private rented section regulator to uphold standards and ensure the system is fair for both landlords and tenants.
  7. Setting minimum standards for energy efficiency, making homes cheaper to heat.

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The levelling up white paper will also look to introduce the scrapping of the section 21 notices. This was already outlined within the renters reform bill which has again been put back. They also now wish to add a national landlord register. Improving standards of homes so that private rented sector comes inline with the social housing. It is likely that a property redress will be bought in to all landlords. Even though, letting agents already have to adhere to this.

It will be an interesting time over the next 2-3 years for landlords. More legalisation coming as the Government switches from being pro landlord to pro tenant.

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