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Government decides to keep Lewis as housing minister

The quick-off-the-mark Residential Landlords Association appeared to earn brownie points for the entire private rental sector by sending a congratulatory message to new housing minister Mark Francois on Monday - but then the government changed its mind.

Late on Monday afternoon Number 10 issued a statement saying that Mark Francois had been appointed as the new housing minister, working to Greg Clark, the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The announcement raised some eyebrows for Francois, the Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, was relatively unknown despite having served as minister of state for the armed forces in the old coalition government. His pre-parliament background in banking and lobbying did not lend any obvious suggestion that he had a strong interest in housing.

Even so, the RLA sent its message and the appointment was widely reported in a range of industry outlets, including EAT, and mainstream publications.

However, by yesterday lunchtime rumours began to circulate on Twitter that the former housing minister at the end of the coalition government, Brandon Lewis, had in fact retained the position. 

Eventually Number 10 confirmed the news later in the day. 

Lewis became popular within the private rental industry even though he was housing minister for only a year at the end of the coalition government. 

He was a strong advocate of Build To Rent and helped curtail councils’ powers to issue blanket landlord licensing schemes shortly before the end of the last parliament.

But one outstanding piece of business - of concern to many in the buy-to-let industry - is the possibility of tenants being allowed to sublet their properties, a suggestion made by Lewis just before the election.

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