Support, Advice and Experience within the Property Market

Housing Reform Announced in Queen’s Speech

From Robert Ulph on May 28, 2021

In the recent Queen’s Speech, when the government set out their plans for the next parliamentary session, there were four key elements on the housing sector. These were significant changes to planning rules, a new Building Safety Regulator, leasehold changes which affect ground rents, and the next steps for Renters Reform.

With regards to planning rules a key announcement in the speech was a new Planning Bill, which aims to simplify and speed up the planning process while making it harder for homeowners to block new housing schemes. With the recent record-breaking activity, we’ve seen over the last few months, there is a severe lack of housing stock so simplifying the planning process and increasing the amount of house building will be a welcome answer to this growing problem, however, it must be used effectively at a local level.

“A greater supply of homes will serve to correct the imbalance between supply and demand which has been intensified by the stamp duty holiday” commented Mark Hayward, Propertymark Chief policy Advisor. “The government has made a number of announcements in the past on simplifying the planning process, however, this will only work if it really reflects local needs and demands.”

As part of the Building Safety Bill, the Government intend to establish a new regulator for building safety along with substantial reforms to the building safety regime. A draft Building Safety Bill has already had pre-legislative scrutiny. It was included in the 2019 Queen’s Speech and published in draft form last July. In September last year, Propertymark highlighted concerns with the proposals, including the role of estate and letting agents when buying, selling and renting property, material information, and the remediation of any unsafe cladding.

The speech also had confirmation of leasehold reform, which will put an end to ground rents as announced earlier in the year. This has been welcomed by Propertymark who has campaigned for years to change the leasehold system. Their research – Leasehold: A life sentence – back in 2018 found that almost half (46%) of leasehold house owners were unaware of the escalating ground rent charges they would be facing when they purchased their property.

Finally, there will be developments for reform in the private rented sector with the government’s consultation response on reforming tenancy law to abolish Section 21, along with their proposals on the ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposit scheme. A White Paper detailing the whole reform package will be published in the Autumn with legislation following shortly after.

“Propertymark will be engaging with MHCLG and MPs to ensure they fully understand the consequences of any changes,” commented Timothy Douglas, Propertymark Policy and Campaigns Manager. “We will also be scrutinising the White Paper and proposed legislation, to ensure the best possible outcome for our members.”

I will keep you updated but if you would like more information or to discuss any other matters on the local property market, please do not hesitate to contact me.