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Agents Alert - radical rental reforms shift power to tenants

The government’s new Levelling Up White Paper, revealed this morning, includes a radical reshaping of the private rental sector.

Section 21 eviction powers will be removed  and Housing Secretary Michael Gove says this will “end the unfair situation where renters can be kicked out of their homes for no reason.”

In addition all homes in the private rental sector will have to meet a minimum standard to be known as the Decent Homes Standard. 


The White Paper does not stop there. It adds: “We will consult on introducing a landlords register, and will set out plans for a crackdown on rogue landlords – making sure fines and bans stop repeat offenders leaving renters in terrible conditions.”

There’s more - the government says home ownership will be boosted via a new £1.5 billion Levelling Up Home Building Fund being launched, which will provide loans to small and medium sized developers and support the government's wider regeneration agenda in areas considered a priority for levelling up.

The government is also committing to build what it calls “a more genuinely affordable social housing.” A new Social Housing Regulation Bill will be introduced following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017.

The ‘80/20 rule’ which leads to 80 per cent of government funding for housing supply being directed at ‘maximum affordability areas’ – in practice, London and the South East – will be scrapped, with much of the £1.8 billion brownfield funding instead being diverted to transforming brownfield sites in the North and Midlands. Metro Mayors will be allocated £120m of this funding. 

The whole Levelling Up White Paper is vast and far-reaching with 12 so-called missions, given legal status in a flagship Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. This will “shift government focus and resources to Britain’s forgotten communities throughout the 2020s.”

Here are the 12 missions:

1. By 2030, pay, employment and productivity will have risen in every area of the UK, with each containing a globally competitive city, with the gap between the top performing and other areas closing;

2. By 2030, domestic public investment in R&D outside the Greater South East will increase by at least 40% and at least one third over the Spending Review period, with that additional government funding seeking to leverage at least twice as much private sector investment over the long term to stimulate innovation and productivity growth;

3. By 2030, 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. By 2030, the UK will have nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage for the majority of the population;

5. By 2030, the number of primary school children achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths will have significantly increased. In England, this will mean 90% of children will achieve the expected standard, and the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas will have increased by over a third;

6. By 2030, the number of people successfully completing high-quality skills training will have significantly increased in every area of the UK. In England, this will lead to 200,000 more people successfully completing high-quality skills training annually, driven by 80,000 more people completing courses in the lowest skilled areas;

7. By 2030, the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy between local areas where it is highest and lowest will have narrowed, and by 2035 HLE will rise by five years;

8. By 2030, well-being will have improved in every area of the UK, with the gap between top performing and other areas closing;

9. By 2030, pride in place, such as 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. By 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas; and the government’s ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50 per cent with the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas;

11. By 2030, homicide, serious violence, and neighbourhood crime will have fallen, focused on the worst-affected areas;

12 By 2030, 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.


Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove says: “The United Kingdom is an unparalleled success story. We have one of the world’s biggest and most dynamic economies. Ours is the world’s most spoken language. We have produced more Nobel Prize winners than any country other than America.

"But 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. The UK has been like a jet firing on only one engine. 

"Levelling Up and this White Paper is about ending this historic injustice and calling time on the postcode lottery.

“This will not be an easy task, and it won’t happen overnight, but our 12 new national levelling up missions will drive real change in towns and cities across the UK, so that where you live will no longer determine how far you can go.”

And beleaguered Prime Minister Boris Johnson adds: “From day one, the defining mission of this government has been to level up this country, to break the link between geography and destiny so that no matter where you live you have access to the same opportunities.

“The challenges we face have been embedded over generations and cannot be dug out overnight, but this White Paper is the next crucial step.

“It is a vision for the future that will see public spending on R&D increased in every part of the country; transport connectivity improving; faster broadband in every community; life expectancies rising; violent crime falling; schools improving; and private sector investment being unleashed.

“It is the most comprehensive, ambitious plan of its kind that this country has ever seen and it will ensure that the government continues to rise to the challenge and deliver for the people of the UK.”

  • Roger  Mellie

    Of course, all of this will be scrapped when Bojo & Co gets kicked out of office for partying whilst the rest of us followed the rules. Where was Bojo whilst all this was going on? Probably at Pizza Express in Woking with Prince Andrew.


    It will be worse for landlords if Labour get in. More proof that we don’t have a Conservative government. We’ve already sold one unit and will be selling at least one a year until we are out of the business. Gove forgets that landlords OWN the property, NOT the tenants.

  • Mark Wilson

    Now that's what I call a to do list.

    Barry X

    I don't know how or why people can "like" this comment... unless of course they're as anti-landlord and/or anti-agent as Mr Wilson... Although he tries to be less open and honest about his views these days, Mark is anti-landlord.

    When he says "now that's what I call a to do list" what you might not realise is just *how* excited he is to see more damage done to the Private Rental Sector by making all tenants effectively sitting tenants, bringing in rent controls, more or less criminalising being a landlord and at the very least making them/us have to pay to sign on to the "offenders list" (euphemistically known as a "register" allegedly to "raise standards" haha), criminalising renting out a property that doesn't have an EPC of at least a C (while allowing owner occupiers to carry on living in the G's if they like), taxing us on TURNOVER not profit (unlike in any other commercial sector) and the list goes on.....

    ...anything that helps take us back to the "Soviet-UK" days of pre-Thatcher, pre-'88 Housing Act, pre-s21 days...

    Yes, obviously none of this is going to happen overnight, even though most of it is relentlessly on its way.... this is just the "labour in Tory clothing" getting started on their election band waggon, with their these days usual mantra of "if you like Labour you'll LOVE us because we basically have the same policies now but look reassuringly more business-like even though we're not"...

    Personally I'd prefer Mark to stop "speaking with fork tongue" and instead show a bit more integrity by just admitting how anti-landlord he is and how he loves all these proposals to take away our rights, undermine the principles of property ownership and generally make it even less viable to try and run a rental or agency business.

    Also, I'd like this blog to have a "don't like" and thumbs down button so I can click it when I disagree or don't like a comment.


    @ Barry X

    I agree with you especially the Don't like button. Hopefully people will realise that they can UNLIKE a comment.


    Are you simple?


    @Barry X

    People like the comment because they're also economically illiterate, much like this plonker. I read a comment over Christmas where he blamed BTL for ruining the market for first time buyers.... ignorance, stupidity and probably a touch of envy result in opinions like that.

    People need to brush up on their history and learn what caused the slums to come into existence in the first place. Today it's S21, before long it's the abolishment of AST's and we'll be back to 'secure' tenancies... stay as long as you want but make sure not to step on the cockroaches.

  • Matthew Payne

    This is no more than a pre manifesto pledge, 2024 electioneering has started already, 2 years out is normal, so I wouldnt advise anyone lose any sleep over the sensational LT headline, all 2030 ambitions. George Osborne announced a similar plan in 2014 in the run up to the 2015 GE, and most of it either never made it off the paper he read it off, or it was cancelled, and none of this lot will be around for much longer even if its a new Tory government in 2024. Bear in mind S21 was supposed to be going last year in the renters reform bill that has been fanfared several times by several housing ministers in the last few years. Cancelled with this announcement.

    8 years is several lifetimes in politics, so lets sit back and see, and this government is prone to a fruity uturn or two, or dare I say the odd white lie? All that said, it is a senisble timescale to look to abolish Section 21, as there is an entire Court system to overhaul and test, and that cant start until the covid backlog has been dealt with. I would rather that, than it was rushed through like everything else.

    Barry X

    I agree this is only the current incompetent untrustworthy government putting out a few easily breakable promises as Step 1 on their election bandwagon.

    I can't tell from the way Matthew has written this whether or not he's in favour of the abolition of the s21 or not.

    Sadly, I’m quite sure that one way or another s21 *will* be abolished... its been a long time coming, while this critical mechanism has been steadily eroded, undermined and talked-down for several years now as the whole political scene continued to drift increasingly left for all parties.

    No doubt the s21 will be replaced with something almost as unworkable as the s21 has become, and more or less meaningless. That seems a certainty whether the current clowns, i.e. ‘labour in tory clothing” as I call them, hang on and survive the election or real *hard* labour slip in this time (as they nearly did last time).

    The s21 should be **strengthened** not abolished! As I said, it's been steadily undermined and increasingly abused and ignored for years… and yet its introduction is what saved, revitalised and transformed the Private Rental Sector at the end of the 1980s.

    What a *sensible* government that understood the industry would do is make it a formal CCJ *offense* that ends up being reported on your credit record if, as a tenant, you ignore a properly served s21 and the poor landlord or her or his agent has to go to all the trouble of asking a county court for a possession order to enforce it. That was after all the original intention of the law – that only a proper notice was required and court action intended to be a last resort if the notice needed to be enforced. IF the government did that it would be an enormous help for everyone (ironically, including for the tenants themselves if you think carefully about it) and certainly free-up the overworked, under resourced, struggling courts so they could concentrate on more important things.

    Until the introduction, by the Thatcher Government, of the s21 in 1988 (which they did after years of genuine, proper research - and not just by asking a left-wing political lobbying group such as what Shelter has become) all tenants had become “sitting tenants”, rental properties were all worth only about 1/3 of their vacant (unlet) open market value and nobody was interested in redecorating or improving any rental properties until the tenants moved out and they were ready to sell… they certainly weren’t going to try to retain their sitting tenants a day longer than necessary by making the flat or house nicer for them!!!

    This is what people should remember - or read-up on if they're too young to remember - because its what we're heading back to.

    The same with rent controls and all the other bad things gradually coming back.

    Looking on the bright side - think how much CGT you'll save if your property plummets in value to just 30% or so because your tenants became "sitting tenants" that you couldn't get out, and you couldn't increase the rent either, and mortgage lenders were no longer willing to accept the property with sitting tenants as adequate security for a loan (just as they hadn't been pre s21)..... :D


    It's easier and a hell of a lot cheaper for the Government to blame the housing crisis on landlords. If they really cared about tenants beyond trying to fight for their votes they would go back to building 100's thousands of properties. Who will they blame when all the landlords have left the market and the housing crisis is still present!

    I agree as you say this is all part of the ebb and flow of property and politics, I feel it may be more likely today but there are a lot of MP landlords out there.. Fingers crossed!!

  • icon

    ..........so basically private landlords with 1 or 2 properties will continue to move their investment out of the PRS ...........which is what the government/big business strategy actually is..................

    Barry X

    Agreed..... PLUS they know there are a lot more tenants than landlords (for obvious reasons) so pretending to pander to and help them to get their votes and not caring if they lose a few thousand landlord votes, and anyhow believeing many/most landlords would still vote for them no matter how crap they are and how badly they betray us (and our agents) because they know we'd been even more distressed and abused by a full-on/openly labour government instead of them as a covert one.

    Of course the majority of tenants are young and ill-informed and have no idea about the 70s (that we're returning to, only probably worse for various reasons), when large numbers of tenants desperately wanted to move out of their crummy, uncared for, out-dated accommodation (that nobody had an incentive to modernise or smarten up) because there were so very few even half respectable properties available to move to... for obvious reasons... so they lost (1) their mobility and flexibility, (2) choice, (3) quality of accommodation, even though it was cheap and oh-so-well "protected".


    Absolutely that's what it is.


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