Election 2024 – Housing and the Labour Party Manifesto

Election 2024It seems pretty clear that the Labour Party is headed for election victory, so I have decided not to waste much time (if any) looking at the Conservative Party Manifesto.

Or indeed, the Lib Dems or the Greens.

However, we watched the Labour Manifesto launch here, and I have now read it.

The Labour Party Manifesto

I have to say that I think it is quite impressive, and I am pleased that they will be putting green issues at the heart of their proposals.

It seems fairly positive for young people also.  I can’t imagine many young people are inspired by the Tory proposals.  Or their record.

There is, however, very little about housing and the private rented sector.

Most of the housing related content was about house building and long leases. Both very important topics but not really the concern of this blog.

So, what did the manifesto say about renting? There were, that I could see on an initial reading, only three mentions.

1 Green improvements.

The first mention I want to discuss dealing with private renting is a fairly positive one. It comes at the end of a paragraph on green investment:

The Warm Homes Plan will offer grants and low interest loans to support investment in insulation and other improvements such as solar panels, batteries and low carbon heating to cut bills. We will partner with combined authorities, local and devolved governments, to roll out this plan. Labour will also work with the private sector, including banks and building societies, to provide further private finance to accelerate home upgrades and low carbon heating. We will ensure homes in the private rented sector meet minimum energy efficiency standards by 2030, saving renters hundreds of pounds per year. Nobody will be forced to rip out their boiler as a result of our plans.

So, although landlords will need to upgrade properties to meet ‘minimum energy efficiency standards’, they will have until 2030 to get this done.. And it looks as if there will be loans and grants to help with this.

The upgrades will benefit both landlords and tenants:

  • Landlords because it will increase the value of their property and
  • Tenants because it will make them nicer and cheaper to live in

2. An overhaul of the legislation

The main paragraph about the private rented sector, however, comes in the ‘break down barriers to opportunity’ section after a discussion on ‘security’:

Security also means having a secure roof over your head. That is not the case for too many renting their homes privately. Labour will legislate where the Conservatives have failed, overhauling the regulation of the private rented sector. We will immediately abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, prevent private renters being exploited and discriminated against, empower them to challenge unreasonable rent increases, and take steps to decisively raise standards, including extending ‘Awaab’s Law’ to the private sector

This makes it clear that a changed legal framework is coming, but with few clues as to what it will be. The main points are:

– The ‘immediate’ abolition of section 21.

This will presumably need legislation, so I can’t see how section 21 can be abolished on ‘day 1’.

However, we knew this was coming, as all political parties have committed to it.

I understand that one of the main reasons Labour is anxious to abolish section 21 as soon as possible is to reduce the massive cost to Local Authorities of rehousing ‘priority need‘ tenants who are evicted.

– The power for tenants to challenge ‘unreasonable rent increases’.

This was part of the Renters Reform Bill, which abolished all methods of increasing rent other than the existing Section 13 notice procedure.

It will be interesting to see if this same approach is used or something different.

– Extending ‘Awaab’s Law’ to the private sector.

Awaabs Ishak was the toddler who sadly died due to his landlord failing to deal properly with the extensive mould in the flat where he lived.

Awaab’s Law, which now forms part of the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, requires social housing landlords to adhere to strict time limits to address dangerous hazards such as damp and mould in their properties.

It does not seem unreasonable to extend this to the private sector, and surely no private landlords will want vulnerable toddlers dying due to the mould in their homes.

However, I suspect that some landlords of properties which are particuarly vulnerable to damp issues may find implementing solutions an expensive business.

3. Changes to the right to buy

The final paragraph I found is on social housing and the right to buy – something we have written about before on this blog.

Labour will deliver the biggest increase in social and affordable housebuilding in a generation. We will strengthen planning obligations to ensure new developments provide more affordable homes; make changes to the Affordable Homes Programme to ensure that it delivers more homes from existing funding; and support councils and housing associations to build their capacity and make a greater contribution to affordable housing supply. Labour will prioritise the building of new social rented homes and better protect our existing stock by reviewing the increased right to buy discounts introduced in 2012 and increasing protections on newly-built social housing.

This is all very good news. The diminution of social housing due to the right to buy is a major contributing factor to the housing crisis we have today.

Many people currently living in the private sector would be far better suited to social (‘council’) housing, particularly low-income families. However, Councils are not going to want to build it if it will be sold off at an undervalue after a few years.

So the prospect of new social housing being built is fantastic.

However, houses cannot be built in a few months (or sometimes even in a few years), so many people will still have to rely on the private sector in the meantime.

So it is to be hoped that the threat of a legislation overhaul in 2 above does not scare too many landlords into selling up.

And finally

At the time of writing there are still some three weeks to go before the General Election on 4 July.

No doubt there will be more answers coming during that time. However, apart from the points listed above, we will not know for sure what is intended until after 5 July has passed and draft legislation has been published.

Assuming that is, Labour are elected as predicted.

The post Election 2024 – Housing and the Labour Party Manifesto appeared first on The Landlord Law Blog.





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