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What ‘levelling up’ means for landlords

February 7, 2022

The Government got February off to an interesting start, with Michael Gove publishing its Levelling Up the United Kingdom white paper. The document sets out how those in charge will give everyone the opportunity to lead more fulfilling lives and flourish, no matter where they live.

So what does the Levelling Up white paper mean for landlords? As well as covering aspects pertaining to health, education, transport, crime and skills, the white paper tackles housing and living standards head on. The document does, however, tread on the toes of the much-delayed Renters’ Reform Bill, whose associated white paper is due for launch in spring 2022.

Detailed in the Levelling Up white paper are 5 key areas that relate directly and indirectly to landlords. We reveal what the Government has set out and what it may actually mean for landlords.

Government: to consult on introducing a legally binding Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector for the first time 

Landlord impact: as yet, there are very few details on what form the Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector will take but there is existing guidance in the social landlord sector that we can look to. For instance, in the Government’s A Decent Home document, modern facilities are mentioned – a kitchen of 20 years old or less, a reasonably modern bathroom no more than 30 years old, a reasonable degree of ‘thermal comfort’ and key building components in a good condition. How standards will be measured is not known at this stage.

Government: explore the idea of a National Landlord Register

Landlord impact: changes may see the existing landlord database – a document currently only available to local authority enforcement professionals – made public. As an open database, tenants would be able to search for landlords and see those with a poor track record. Currently, landlords who have received banning orders or multiple civil penalties against them are added to the database. 

Government: bring forward measures to end Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions

Landlord impact: ‘no fault’ evictions – when a landlord can ask tenants to leave without a reason – are set to be banned. This will affect landlords who want to regain their property to perhaps sell or move back into. At this point, we lack detail on what might replace the Section 21 notice or how the incumbent Section 8 notice could be reformed.

Government: a pledge to regenerate 20 towns and cities by “assembling and remediating brownfield land and working with the private sector to bring about transformational developments combining housing, retail and business in sustainable, walkable, beautiful new neighbourhoods”. 

Landlord impact: regeneration schemes that improve public transport, community facilities and public realm are generally a good thing for landlords. These upgrades can add to an area’s desirability, therefore attracting tenants and allowing for sustainable rents. We wait to see if the housing aspect of the regeneration pledge swings in favour of Build to Rent developments, which may impact the private rental sector.

Government: Making improvements to the home buying and selling process, “working with the industry to ensure the critical information buyers need to know is available digitally wherever possible from trusted and authenticated sources”. 

Landlord impact: this is not the first time that the Government has alluded to digital information during the buying and selling process, and it has hints of the short-lived Home Information Pack (HIP). Anything that simplifies the transactional process should be welcomed by landlords looking to purchase new buy-to-lets, as well as those disposing of assets.

If you would like to read Levelling Up the United Kingdom’s executive summary or the full report, digital copies are available on the Government’s website. For all other matters regarding lettings and property management – and for our opinion on the white paper, get in touch.

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