Property

Industry reacts to the Queen's Speech

Property Reporter
|
10th May 2022
Gov 777

Prince Charles took over the responsibility of laying out the government's plans for the next year following the Queen's decision to pull out of the ceremony yesterday. So, with the Renter's Reform Bill in and Planning reforms out, how did the UK property industry react?

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “We welcome the Government’s acceptance that reforms to the rented sector need to strengthen the ability of landlords to tackle anti-social tenants and those with repeated rent arrears. We will continue to work to ensure that these and other grounds for possession are fair and workable.

“Whilst we support proposals for an Ombudsman to cut the number of possession cases needing to go the court, this cannot be a substitute for proper court reform as well. At present, it can take almost a year for a private landlord to repossess a property through the courts where they have a legitimate reason to do so. This is simply not good enough.”

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns for Propertymark, Comments:

On Renters Reform Bill

“The measures proposed for the private rented sector in the Queen’s Speech will have a significant impact on letting agents, their landlords and therefore tenants in England.

"What we need to see is balance throughout the possession and court processes to ensure that agents and landlords have efficient access to regain possession when justified. Letting agents are already well versed in dispute resolution, making them a pivotal part that could prove to be more efficient than the introduction of a new property portal.

"An introduction of legally binding standards of property across the rented sector is welcome in principle, but legislators must understand what is possible across a variety of property types which exist in the private rented sector.”

On the second Economic Crime Bill:

“Property is a high-risk sector for money laundering, and we have been engaging with Companies House on how the register will affect estate agents.

"Companies House must be adequately resourced to ensure they can verify information that is provided, and the Register is accurate.

"It will be important for us to analyse the new Bill to ensure it enhances the current anti-money laundering regime and does not work in isolation.”

On Levelling up and Regeneration Bill:

“We are facing a supply crisis and whilst new building must be a sharp focus, an effective planning system must prioritise the delivery of the right types of homes in the right places utilising a careful assessment of housing needs and market demand data. To truly level up and maximise a quality supply of housing, we will scrutinise this Bill to ensure known barriers to delivery are removed.”

Simon Cox, managing director at Walter Cooper, comments: “Planning reforms have been left out of the Queen’s Speech. Once again this is a missed opportunity for the government and DLUHC to ‘actually level up’.

“Nobody likes a person or government who talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk and I don’t see any walking from the government here.

“Doubling council tax for second homes, stronger CPO powers, forcing landlords to rent out commercial properties, this feels like a sledgehammer to crack a very small nut of those that abuse the situation for profit.

“What about the hard worker who has bought themselves a second property and is fuelling the local tourism economy? What about the small pension funds that want fair value for their commercial property? What about the homeowner who doesn't want to sell their forever home for a new road to be built through it?

“Critical reforms to the planning system would solve many issues for the real estate sector and these need to be introduced at the earliest convenience if things are going to improve.”

Paresh Raja, CEO, Market Financial Solutions, says: “Will they, won’t they – that was the big question surrounding the Planning Bill ahead of today’s Queen’s Speech. It is certainly positive to hear it mentioned, with the policy seemingly dragged back out of the proverbial long grass, into which it was kicked last year. As ever, the devil will be in the detail, but stating that "the planning system will be reformed" is a start at least.

“Let’s start with the obvious fact: the UK needs more housing, and fast. To achieve this, we need to make it easier to build more new homes and, crucially, also convert disused commercial properties into residential ones. Tabling the Planning Bill is a vital first step in hopefully addressing the red tape that prevents the delivery of new homes.

“Question marks hang over the purported decision to give local leaders more power to revitalise high streets, which was hinted at. It sounds promising, but the policy could miss the mark a little. Landlords seldom want their properties to sit empty – really the question is whether there is viable demand from businesses to rent shops and offices, and at a price that ensures landlords can cover their costs.

“The continued efforts to raise standards in the private rental sector and protect tenants' right is welcomed. It will be interesting to see how this takes shape.”

Jamie Johnson, CEO, FJP Investment, comments: “It's encouraging that today’s Queen’s Speech has signalled a renewed effort in favour of tackling geographic inequality across the UK as part of the forthcoming levelling-up and regeneration bill.

"In the face of the current pressing economic, social and environmental challenges, now more than ever, it is crucial that housing is put at the forefront of the government’s agenda and while a root and branch shake-up of the planning system is still required, the reforms referenced today are a step in the right direction towards increasing the number of homes that this country so desperately needs.”

Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, commented: “Plenty to begin to excite the property industry in the Queen’s Speech as delivered by consort the Prince of Wales.

"Whilst light on detail as is usual, the Government’s agenda includes yet more planning reforms and a nod to improving social housing tenure so that conditions are better and safer. 

"The problem with announcements around planning reform, whilst it is badly needed, is that injecting more democracy on a local level is likely to clog up the system rather than improve it.

"Encouraging NIMBYism is probably not the best way to get more homes through the planning approval process. In any case, planning is not the obstacle as there are hundreds of thousands of plots with planning consent across the UK right now that are not being built upon.”

James Forrester, Managing Director of property developer, StripeHomes, commented: “Reforming and improving the slow and cumbersome planning process would be welcome if it were not for the fact that successive governments have had several stabs at doing so - usually via big punchy headlines that rarely come to fruition. 

"Remember Garden Towns and Garden Villages? In fact, the last reforms announced were swiftly jettisoned when rural Conservative MPs objected to the less democratic means proposed by Robert Jenrick, whereby towns could designate areas as ‘automatic consent areas’ that would not require the local authority to assess consent. 

"The graveyard of Westminster housing policy announcements is full to bursting with discarded headlines and the likelihood is that many of today’s will end up there as well.”

Neil Cobbold, PayProp UK managing director, says: “We welcome the remarks in the Queen’s Speech on the timetable for rental reform. We now have more clarity on this important area of government policy, but there remain a number of question marks over how it will be implemented.

“The changes to Section 21, and a beefed-up Section 8, have been on the agenda for some time, but they continue to strongly divide opinion. The government will need to manage them carefully to ensure the interests of landlords, agents and tenants alike are catered for.

“The concept of lifetime deposits has been more widely welcomed but wasn't mentioned in the plans for rental reform. In principle, making it faster and cheaper to move from tenancy to tenancy is a win for landlords, agents and tenants, but legitimate concerns remain about how this will work in practice if indeed it still forms part of the government's plans. It’s clear that tech has a key role to play here, and we hope the industry is given a place at the table to discuss this. Like many other providers and lettings professionals, PayProp keenly awaits more details."

Daniel Evans, chair of the AIIC, said: “While it’s a positive that a timetable for the White Paper and the Renters Reform Bill has now been set out, I don’t think anyone in the lettings industry will be jumping for joy until these plans start to see the light of the day.

“Will the government – distracted by everything from partygate to war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and its own internal strife, worsened by the recent poor showing at the local elections – be able to keep its eye on the ball with something as major as widespread rental reform?

“We’ve heard for many years the plans to scrap Section 21, introduce a compulsory landlord register (as is already the case in Scotland) and implement lifetime deposits, but we’ve never really got any further than that.

“This latest announcement is a step in the right direction, but as we’ll remember from previous Queen Speeches, this isn’t the first time rental reform has been promised. Equally, pledges made in the Queen's Speech aren’t always adhered to, so I think it’s important the industry doesn’t get too far ahead of itself.

“We all need a bit more clarity and certainty, and hopefully now we know the direction of travel with regards to rental reform, the momentum behind it will no longer falter.”

Tom Mundy, COO at rental experts Goodlord, comments: "After so many delays, the Queen's Speech has put the Renters' Reform Bill back on the table. Although the Bill is set to introduce policies which divide opinion in the sector, the ongoing uncertainty around when these proposals would come into law wasn't helping anyone. Now that it's clearly back on the agenda, the Government must provide letting agents, landlords and tenants the clarity they need to move forward with confidence. Uncertainty is no good for the market, especially one that's grappling with an ever-changing set of regulations and new requirements. The industry now needs clear timelines so they can prepare accordingly. We hope this is a decisive step forward that will end the years of dithering, but the proof will be in what happens next."

Olivia Harris, CEX Dolphin Living, comments: “The cost-of-living crisis currently engulfing the country makes it even more vital that the government not only delivers upon its commitment to “level-up” the UK but also seeks to continue to address the now critical housing affordability crisis impacting upon many parts of the country, including London.

"Tackling this crisis, especially within areas experiencing high housing costs, needs to be a central part of the agenda to not only address the major socio-economic disparities across the UK but also respond to the critical housing challenge being faced by London, whose economy remains fundamental to the country’s overall success. As part of the government’s regeneration objections there needs to be bold steps taken to deliver new homes for those who do not qualify for social housing, yet unable to afford local market rents, through help to finance the delivery of a significant proportion of intermediate housing to rent.”

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