The private rented sector has faced considerable uncertainty in recent years, with both tenants and landlords anticipating widespread reforms. As average rent prices rise and housing demand increases, private rentals remain a crucial part of the housing sector.

Given that the rental market represents a significant voter base, rental policies are expected to feature prominently in party manifestos and campaigns leading up to the upcoming general election.

Our Landlord Insurance team at Lansdown have summarised the key issues facing landlords and tenants and what the major political parties have proposed so far.

General Election 2024: Key Dates

The general election is set for Thursday 4th July 2024. Although it was speculated that Rishi Sunak would call for an autumn election, the announcement of a summer election on 22nd May surprised many. Parliament officially dissolved on 30th May, initiating a five-week campaign period.

Rental Reforms and the Election

In May 2023, the government published the draft Renters Reform Bill, which includes measures to abolish Section 21 evictions and end fixed-term tenancies. However, with the bill only having passed a second reading in the House of Lords, it won’t become law before the election. Any new government will need to reintroduce the bill to pursue these reforms.

Key Rental Market Issues

As the election approaches, landlords are keen to learn about the main parties’ plans on several critical issues:

Rental Housing Supply: An imbalance between supply and demand has led to unsustainable rent increases in some areas highlighting the need for policies that address this issue.

Rental Reforms: While plans to abolish Section 21 evictions won’t be enacted before the election, they are likely to be reintroduced later.

Rising Costs: Increased mortgage costs and significant tax changes have reduced many landlords’ returns leading to concerns about the financial viability of rental properties.

Energy Efficiency: Although plans to raise minimum energy efficiency standards in rental properties were scrapped in 2023, the future remains uncertain for landlords.

Labour Party’s Rental Market Plans

If Labour wins the election, they are expected to prioritise rental reforms, particularly the abolition of Section 21 evictions. Shadow Housing Minister Angela Rayner has pledged to “ban no-fault evictions, no ifs, no buts” within 100 days of forming a government.

Labour might also adopt recommendations from the Independent Review of the UK’s Private Rented Housing Sector, including:

  • Capping rent increases
  • Establishing a national register for landlords and letting agents.
  • Enhancing security of tenure for renters.
  • Introducing a renters’ charter and a code of conduct for landlords.

Additionally, Labour could reintroduce higher energy efficiency standards for rental properties, with Shadow Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband advocating for a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above.

Conservative Party’s Rental Market Plans

The Conservatives initially proposed a ‘better deal’ for renters in their 2019 manifesto. While it’s unclear if they will commit to completing rental reforms in their 2024 manifesto, potential measures might include:

  • Simplifying the process for tenants to request to keep pets
  • Reforming courts to facilitate the abolition of Section 21 evictions
  • Launching a private rental sector database
  • Banning blanket bans on renting to families or people on benefits
  • Implementing a decent homes standard for private rentals

The Conservatives’ stance on improving rental property energy efficiency remains unclear, and they are unlikely to consider compulsory licensing or rent controls.

Conclusion

While the exact details of party manifestos are still to be released, these outlines provide insight into potential changes in the rental market. Keep an eye out for the latest updates as we approach the general election on 4th July 2024.

About Lansdown Insurance Brokers

Lansdown Insurance Brokers are specialists in Landlord InsuranceBlock of Flats Insurance and Home Insurance. We can provide flexible policies to suit individual client needs and provide advice on what cover is needed. For more information call the team on 01242 524498.

Lansdown is part of the Benefact Group, a charity-owned, international family of financial services companies that gives all available profits to charity and good causes.

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