Levelling Up Renting Reform: A Crackdown on Rogue Landlords

The government’s Levelling Up plan consists of a raft of renting reform proposals including landlords in the The 12 Missions to Level Up the UK by 2030. 

Housing secretary Michael Gove recently dished out a plate of reform proposals within the government’s Levelling Up White Paper announcement on 2nd February 2022. 

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Gove stated his desire for the private rental sector to be part of the government’s efforts to ‘level up’ the UK economically. The Levelling Up plan includes the unveiling of 12 Missions by 2030 that bring changes to:

  • Health
  • Opportunity
  • Education
  • Policing
  • Devolved decision making
  • Government spending

Among the dozen high-flying ambitions is a proposal that heavily focuses on landlords. It’s proposed that by 2030 renters will have a secure path to ownership, with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas. 

Michael Gove made the remark that the UK has been ‘like a jet firing on only one engine’. He also said that the Levelling Up and the White Paper is about ending an ‘historic injustice’ and ‘calling time on the postcode lottery.’ He says:

Not everyone shares equally in the UK’s success. For decades, too many communities have been overlooked and undervalued – as some areas have flourished – others have been left in a cycle of decline.

Levelling Up in Renting Reform includes Pride in Place.

As stated in the 9th of the 12 proposed missions by 2030, ‘Pride in Place’ will be a significant addition to local communities. It’s proposed that ‘people’s satisfaction with their town centre’ and ‘engagement in local culture and community’, will have risen in every area of the UK, with the gap between the top performing and other areas closing.

The Government also has hopes for more renters to climb the property ladder; with the ambition for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50%, with the biggest improvements in the lowest-performing areas. 

We reported before on how buy-to-let’s such as Airbnb’s can be detrimental to the livelihood of one’s community. With the government’s announcement earlier this year (January 2022) about the consultation for plans that will introduce a national register in the UK for holiday lets, it’s no surprise that the latest proposals include a National Landlord Register.

The document tackles a crackdown on ‘rogue’ and dishonest landlords, with the implementation of a national ‘decent homes standard’ with the plans to move on towards the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA states that he will work with the government to ensure whatever standards expected of the sector are proportionate, fit for purpose, and properly enforced. 

Beadle notes these standards criminal landlords will continue to undermine the reputation of the vast majority of responsible landlords who are ‘doing the right thing’. 

What are the 12 Levelling Up Missions by 2030?

The Prime Minister claimed that the Levelling Up White Paper represented ‘the defining mission of this government’.

Here’s a quick summary of the 12 new proposals:

  1. Pay, employment and productivity. The hope is for these three to rise in every area of the UK – each containing a globally competitive city with the gap between the top performing and other areas closing.
  2. Domestic public investment. In the hope of stimulating innovation and productivity growth, domestic public investment in R&D outside the Greater South East will increase by at least 40%.
  3. Local public transport. Connectivity across the country will be significantly closer to the standards of London with improved services, simpler fares, and integrated ticketing.
  4. 4G & 5G coverage. The UK will have nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage for the majority of the population.
  5. Primary school education. The number of primary school children achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths will have significantly increased, meaning 90% of children will achieve the expected standard in England. 
  6. High-quality skills. The number of people successfully completing high-quality skills training will have significantly increased in every area of the UK, leading to 200,000 more people successfully completing high-quality skills training annually. 
  7. Healthy Life Expectancy. By 2030, the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) between local areas where it is highest and lowest will have narrowed.
  8. Well-being. By 2030, well-being will have improved in every area of the UK with the gap between top performing and other areas closing.
  9. Pride in Place. People’s satisfaction with their town centre and engagement in local culture and community will have risen in every area of the UK – with the gap between the top performing and other areas closing.
  10. Path to Ownership. It is proposed that renters will have a secure path to ownership with the hopes that the number of first-time buyers will be increasing in all areas – the government’s ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50%. 
  11. Crime and violence reduced. By 2030, homicide, serious violence, and neighbourhood crime will have fallen, focused on the worst-affected areas.
  12. Devolution deal. Devolution in England is the transfer of powers and funding from national to local government. By 2030, it’s proposed that every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal with powers at or approaching the highest level of devolution and a simplified, long-term funding settlement.

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What do landlords have to say about the government’s Levelling Up renting reform?

  • Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association has said every tenant should have the right to expect properties to be safe and secure. He notes that the existing Decent Homes Standard is not ‘the right vehicle with which to achieve this important goal’ and at the present this standard, that is designed for the social rented sector, doesn’t reflect many of the differences between it and the private rented sector. 
  • Eddie Hooker, CEO of landlord services group Hamilton Fraser said that this is an ambitious long-term plan containing a myriad of high-level policy announcements. He also stated it’s aimed at sharing prosperity and power across the country in trying to ‘end some of the unfairness of previous legislation.’ He noted that from a private rental perspective, ‘we all knew what the high-level announcements would be – ending of S.21 and the improvement of the condition of homes in the sector.’ Big on soundbites but less on detail – he believes this is a launch announcement and no doubt further drilling down will be needed over the coming months. 
  • Osama Bhutta, Shelter’s Director of Campaigns notes that the commitment from the government is a crucial step forward and offers hope to the millions of people being held back by the housing emergency. He also states that far too many have been forced to live in shoddy conditions, afraid to complain for fear of eviction. He believes that we cannot level up the country without safe and secure homes, saying that renters have ‘had a rotten deal for years’ and that ‘the devil will be in the detail, so the government now needs to set out how it will deliver on its promises.’
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