Government turns its attention to renters, leasehold reform and building safety
Today’s Queen’s Speech wasn’t the vehicle to spell out all the detail but it was clear that property reform remains high on the Government’s agenda. As anticipated “laws to modernise the planning system” were included, along with the promise of “measures to end the practice of ground rents for new leasehold properties”. The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill is great news for tenants in new blocks and signals the beginning of a tranche of long-awaited leasehold reforms. With the establishment of a council of stakeholders to look at the workability of commonhold, we can expect more to come out of the ongoing work on this that's being done by the Law Commission.
The speech also alluded to the fact that the Government would “enhance the rights of those who rent”. We expect this to mean the resurrection of the Renters Reform Bill, which would abolish “no fault” Section 21 notices. Instead the existing Section 8 alternative is likely to be extended and enhanced. As we’ve said before in this blog, we’re not in favour but the Government seems wedded to this change, which has already come into force to mixed reviews in Scotland. There will be a White Paper in due course setting out a range of rental reforms but we will have to wait until later in the year to see the nitty gritty.
Building Safety also got an honourable mention this morning, with the announcement that the Government “will establish in law a new Building Safety Regulator to ensure that the tragedies of the past are never repeated”. This is a key strand of the Building Safety Bill, which has now been through pre-legislative scrutiny. This is a complex piece of legislation with many different strands. It has the potential to completely change the way our sector works and needs considerable time to be properly thought through and delivered. For this reason, industry commentators think it will take at least another two years for it to gain Royal Assent.
So no clear action plan – yet. But at least we can see the direction of travel.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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