Property News

Millions Of  Property Owners Could Be Disappointed As General Election Throws New Law Into Question

Millions Of Property Owners Could Be Disappointed As General Election Throws New Law Into Question

A General Election has been called for July 4.

So what happens to the Renters Reform Bill, which has been the subject of years of controversy and which is now part way through its Parliamentary process?

It has gone through the House of Commons and has had its first reading in the Lords.

It should next go on to the committee stage in the Lords, which could in normal times take some weeks. Providing the Bill emerges from committee without significant conflicts with the version of the Bill agreed by the Commons, it could then quickly go through final procedures in the Lords before being given Royal Assent and becoming law.

But can that realistically happen by the time Parliament is dissolved?

There are normally several days between an election being called and Parliament (including the Lords) being dissolved. During this period, Parliament will continue in what is called the ‘wash-up’.

Any Parliamentary business not completed by the end of ‘wash-up’ will fall. This means Bills that have not received Royal Assent will not enter into law and cannot be continued into the next Parliament - even if the Conservatives were to win the election and return to government.

In theory there could be a rush to rapidly pass the Renters Reform Bill to get it onto the statute book, but this would require the co-operation of Labour. The Opposition has said it will not vote against the Bill as it currently stands - but there may simply not be time for it to finish all its stages before polling day.

No announcement has yet been made about the Bill - but more may be known in the next few working days. The Renters’ (Reform) Bill will be lost unless it’s rushed into legislation before parliament is dissolved on the 30th May.

The bill, whose most high-profile element was the abolition of Section 21 evictions, has passed through the House of Commons and is currently at the committee stage in the House of Lords.

Generally that would mean the bill would be subjected to detailed scrutiny, but that’s unlikely to be achieved in time – so cross-party co-operation would be required to get it over the line. The final few days where MPs must tie up legislation before parliament is prorogued is known as “wash-up”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to LBC about bills going through parliament “It’s a question of conversations across all parties in parliament. Those are parliamentary procedures. When parliament dissolves at the end of a session and you have a couple more days to get the last bits of legislation through, I can’t force those through on my own. It requires a conversation with parties across parliament. That’s how our constitution works – that’s how our Parliament works. There’s no need to make any political point about it. That’s just the reality of the situation.”

Measures in the Renters (Reform) Bill have been introduced at a glacial pace.

Its key elements were proposed in 2019 by ex-Prime Minister Theresa May, but the bill didn’t even enter parliament until May 2023.

It then took until April 2024 for it to receive its second reading in the Commons, amidst reports of a Tory backbench revolt about the abolition of Section 21 evictions. In its current form the bill states that Section 21 will be only be abolished after a review of the courts takes place.

‘No fault-evictions’ have caused controversy on both sides.

Tenants tend to see Section 21 as unfair, because it means they can be evicted through no fault of their own, while there are anecdotal stories of landlords using evictions in revenge when tenants ask for maintenance to take place.

Landlords however have raised concerns about the lengthy time it takes to use a Section 8 eviction, given that you have to go through the not fit-for-purpose court system to remove a bad tenant, while many defend the right to do as they wish with their properties.

In terms of other elements in the bill: periodic tenancies would become the norm, which would be rolling with no fixed date; tenants would be able to challenge unjust rent increases via tribunal; it would be illegal to refuse to rent to people for being on benefits or having children; there would be a new national landlord register; there would be a grounds for eviction for landlords who want to sell their properties or move back in; and tenants would be able to keep pets as standard provided they take out pet insurance.

It would certainly be controversial if such a wide-reaching piece of legislation ends up falling flat.


Renters (Reform) Bill declared ‘Dead’ ahead of General Election

The Renters (Reform) Bill is dead, according to various tenant groups.

The Renters (Reform) Coalition and Generation Rent, say the Renters (Reform) Bill is unlikely to pass before the General Election. However, the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill will be debated in the House of Lords today.

In an update to MPs, the Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt did not include the Bill among the legislation to be debated before Parliament is prorogued. Although Ms Mordaunt confirmed that some bills are still under negotiation, she refrained from commenting on the fate of the Renters (Reform) Bill.

In her Business Statement to the Commons, Ms Mordaunt confirmed that the Finance Bill, the Digital Markets Bill and Post Office Horizon Offences Bill will all get time in the Commons before the election. The Victims and Prisoners Bill, which will include mechanisms to compensate people impacted by the infected blood scandal, will be put before MPs today.

Tom Darling, campaign manager for the Renters Reform Coalition: said on X, formerly Twitter "The Renters (Reform) Bill is dead. I’m still hearing that renters reform is out but leasehold bill is up in the air. The government are still saying that negotiations are ongoing but for renters reform I suspect this is about trying to manage the politics of having reneged on this commitment more than anything.”

Reacting to the news, Ben Beadle, chief executive of the (NRLA), called the situation “hugely disappointing, if true, it is hugely disappointing that this Bill will not now make it into law. The news comes despite the fact that the Bill was in a state which would work for tenants and responsible landlords. There has been too much dither and delay in government, and a failure to be clear about how to ensure changes would work in practice. Critically, the market now faces yet more crippling uncertainty about what the future of the private rented sector looks like.

Reforming the sector will be an important issue for the next government and we will work constructively with them to ensure changes are fair and workable. That means empowering tenants to challenge rogue and criminal landlords whilst ensuring the confidence of responsible landlords to stay in the market.”

Ben Twomey, Chief Executive of Generation Rent, blamed MPs for the delay of the Bill. He said “abandoning the Renters Reform Bill as parliament dissolves means the government has failed in its promise to renters at the last election to deliver a fairer tenancy system. If it had not been for delays caused by a minority of MPs opposing the Bill, the government could enter the election campaign with a new law to end Section 21 evictions and bring in stronger protections for renters. It now falls to the next parliament to start afresh and get it right at the second time of asking. Whoever forms the next government must make rental reform a key part of their agenda. This means proper protections from evictions when we have done nothing wrong, and limits on unaffordable rent rises so we can’t be turfed on to the streets at a landlords’ whim.”

One of the key property bills currently making its way through Parliament is the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill, which has cleared the Commons and is now awaiting the Report stage in the House of Lords.

Currently, if your property is a leasehold, you own the house but not the building or land it sits on, which means you pay ground rent to the freeholder. The proposed new law would see this form of homeownership banned for new homeowners and make it cheaper and easier for current leaseholders to extend their lease, buy their freehold, and takeover management of their building.

Labour supports the move to abolish the leasehold system but has criticised the Conservatives for 'watering down' the reforms. In a recent speech, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said the party would "end the mediaeval leasehold system, with root and branch reform" if they win the election.

Now, the Tories have just days left to get the legislation through before Parliament is dissolved ahead of the vote. Scores of bills that were making their way through the House of Commons will be dropped or scrapped entirely. Called the "wash-up" period, both main parties have until just May 25 to push through any laws that they both agree on, but with politics more divisive than ever, it is not clear what laws will get through.

Property experts say homeowners awaiting the new legislation may be "sorely disappointed". The government first asked for a consultation on the issue of large leasehold fees in 2017, eventually passing a law in 2022 to end ground rents on leasehold properties. But there were many measures that still needed to be passed, including essentially removing the need to renew a leasehold, ending fees with a "peppercorn" rent, and other steps to help people who are struggling to sell a leasehold property.

But, unless both parties can agree on measures that are uncontroversial, while also finding the time to pass the legislation, these much-needed reforms will be poured down the drain during the wash-up period.


Landlords and the General Election: Who should we vote for?

Rishi Sunak’s surprise announcement to call a General Election might turn out to be one of the best political gambles of modern times but where will landlords stand?

None of the parties have been kind to landlords in recent years, so I don’t expect that will change before July 4. So, here’s my message to Rishi and Sir Kier about what we would like to see – though it isn’t really a Landlord Crusader PRS manifesto (though that will come soon…).

The bottom line is that we all want a private rented sector that works for tenants AND landlords but all we hear about are tenants.

Tenant rights, tenants can’t find a house, tenants want to keep pets. I could go on ad nauseam. We never hear about landlords struggling to stay in business, tenants aren’t paying rent, the courts are backed up or tenants have trashed my house. Again.

No doubt we will hear over the coming weeks that political parties want to improve housing numbers and protect tenants. There’s never a joining up of the dots is there? No one ever takes a step back to consider why landlords are selling to create a housing shortage, shortages lead to rising rents.

It must be down to greedy landlords, not the high tax rates and legislation or councils imposing selective licensing schemes with outrageously high fees. We pay admin fees for the paperwork and an inspection regime that never comes.

I say we pay; the fees are passed on to the tenant, but we have seen councils demanding this should not be done when discussing a licensing scheme.

It’s just a never-ending circus of nonsense, expenses and idiot politicians playing to the stalls. 

The only ones that have stood up for us, to my memory, are the Tory MPs who made some amendments to the Renters (Reform) Bill and were criticised for doing so.

It will be interesting to hear what the Conservatives have to say about helping or growing the PRS after years of neglect. Our relationship mirrors the worst form of domestic abuse – we take the knocks because we don’t want to leave the PRS. Most of us know what we should do but don’t want to leave our tenants in the lurch.

You won’t hear politicians or tenant activist groups make this point before the election. We need to encourage landlords to invest, sort out Section 24 and CGT – landlords are being taxed into not investing and yes, we should abolish all selective licensing schemes.

Rent stabilisation and a National Landlords Register
Vote Labour? After that report on bringing in a tenant’s charter, ‘rent stabilisation’ and a National Landlords Register?

You have got to be joking! Their promise to abolish Section 21 on day one will prove to be hot air. Let’s say they did win (they won’t) and did that. Landlords will sell up and I’m betting Sir Kier isn’t predicting a slide in house prices when so many properties come on the market!

Like Corbyn before him, it’s one thing spouting sixth-form politics but something else entirely when the hard decisions must be taken.

Vote Lib Dems? They are not liberal or democratic so it’s a hard no from me. Reform. Hmmm, I would literally give anyone exhibiting common sense a crack.

This will also send a message to the Establishment that many of us are sick of what has happened in the last 10 years.

If the Conservatives don’t hang on with a tiny majority, and Labour do take power then we will eventually see their commitment to transferring control of a property to the tenant become reality.

I’ve been banging on about this for a long time and landlords are now starting to wake up.

Let’s face it, we all want a fair deal for both landlords and tenants, but all we get is ridicule and higher bills.

Tenants get away with not paying us and we have to deal with a court system that doesn’t appear to recognise that this is a serious problem.

Whichever party gets in will need to reform the courts and ensure a quick possession route is implemented.

Landlords who have been in the PRS for many years
For landlords who have been in the PRS for many years, I doubt you see it as a long-term investment anymore. Increasing legislation – most of it poorly thought through – and poor-quality tenants have changed the PRS beyond recognition.

How on earth do we plan for the future? What with the talk of rent caps and abolishing Section 21, landlords look like losing control of their properties and will struggle to evict non-paying tenants.

You’d think the government, a Conservative one especially, would actually care about property owners being turned over in this way. Apparently not.

Not getting possession, more laws and rising expenses are making investment in the PRS a really risky undertaking. It’s not money for old rope anymore (though most of us never saw the ‘glory years’ of the 90’s). Will the Renters (Reform) Bill even get through the ‘wash up’ and be made law before Parliament breaks up? If not, what happens next?

Do Labour have to start the whole process again – though they’ll add even more garbage to it. Or will the Tories bite the bullet and push it through thinking it will win votes among the tenants of this country?

If they do, it will become more difficult to find a home and with rising immigration and an ageing population, things aren’t about to get better.

If landlords vote Conservative after years of being let down and victimised, is that like turkeys voting for Christmas?