With a new PM and Gove back as Housing Secretary, NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle looks at what this will mean for rental reform.

What a few weeks it’s been.

With Liz Truss quitting after just 44 days in office, Rishi Sunak as the new PM and Michael Gove back as Housing Secretary, many in the sector will be asking where this leaves the government’s rental reform plans?

Rumours that the Truss administration was to abandon the proposals spread like wildfire a couple of weeks ago, before being quickly scotched by the former PM at Prime Minister’s Questions when she confirmed – unequivocally – that it was all systems go.

But now she has gone, what can we expect to see happen next?

While it might be tempting to hope the government would go back to the drawing board to create a more equitable set of proposals, unfortunately this is unlikely.

Gove was the minister to publish the Rental Reform Bill and, while we have no crystal ball, now that he has the housing brief once more it is likely he will work to progress the plans to reform the PRS, including the proposals to end Section 21 repossessions.

This was a Conversative Party manifesto pledge, but, while it is clear that change is coming we have the ability to affect what this change looks like, and will continue to campaign on your behalf.

What we want to see

Since the rental reform proposals were first mooted we have been consistent in our calls.

We are not anti-reform, but we are firm in our belief that, if the changes the government is proposing are to go ahead, provision must be made to protect landlords, not least those whose tenants are refusing to pay their rent or are behaving anti-socially.

These calls are backed by our survey data, which shows that most landlords can envisage operating without Section 21, provided other proposals, such as on court reform and reformed grounds for possession, have their confidence.

We are asking for:

  • An end to the anti-landlord rhetoric and backing for the majority of landlords providing a good quality home to rent.
  • The PRS student market to have parity with the purpose-built student accommodation sector
  • Firm principles as to how councils and police can support landlords to tackle anti-social tenants.
  • Reform of the courts BEFORE Section 21 powers are removed to tackle lengthy waits for possession
  • The abolition of local licensing once the new property portal is introduced.

Party conferences

Earlier this month I attended both the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences to stress the importance of these asks, meeting with high-level MPs within both parties. I have also met senior civil servants.

With Labour still out-pacing the Conservatives in the polls, it is important we enter into a positive dialogue with members of the opposition, who may well be in power in the not-too-distant future.

Of course, there are areas where we disagree. Lisa Nandy’s frankly dangerous proposals to abolish automatic repossessions for rent arrears is nonsense – and I have spoken directly to her on this issue and will speak to her special advisors on the 8 November.

However, there are areas where we have common ground. Welfare and enforcement are areas where we both agree work is needed to improve the experiences of both landlords and tenants.

We are campaigning for an end to the benefit freeze to support those tenants who need it – and the landlords who are housing them – and for positive steps to root out the criminal minority giving the sector a bad name, using existing powers.

We will continue to lobby for positive change and work constructively with the new Secretary of State to ensure the final reform package has the confidence of responsible landlords and tenants alike.

More information

To find out more about the NRLA’s rental reform campaign and how you can get involved click here.

About the Author

Ben Beadle - NRLA Chief Executive

Ben Beadle is chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), the UK’s largest trade body for landlords.

A landlord himself since the age of 20, Ben started out as property manager before working his way up through the ranks at Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

He was then Operations Director at property management business Touchstone before overseeing the merger of the National Residential Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to create the new trade body earlier this year.

His key aims as head of the organisation are to strengthen the voice of landlords in Westminster and Cardiff, to improve the reputation of landlords in the media and to support members through information, training and accreditation.

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