A prominent trade body is warning Tory leadership candidates not to put rental reform on the back burner and add to the uncertainty in the lettings industry.
The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks’s chair, Daniel Evans, says: “The latest chaos to surround Westminster could overshadow and delay the introduction of rental reform, leaving the lettings sector in limbo yet again. There is even the chance that the reforms could be scrapped or watered down completely if the next PM and their new team is keen for a new direction and a fresh break from the past.”
Evens predicts that the two candidates – former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and current Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is the favourite – are unlikely to make wholesale changes to the recently-released Fairer Private Rental Sector White Paper given its cross-party and public support, but each could have slightly different views on how much of a priority it is.
“It should be beyond politics – driven forward regardless of who is Housing Secretary or Housing Minister at any given time – because these positions change too frequently” adds Evans.
“The latest reshuffle in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is likely to make the journey to rental reform an even slower one. Only Eddie Hughes, the minister for rough sleeping and housing, has remained in post at the department – such a radical change is likely to have an impact on getting things through and getting things done. This will only be made worse by the ongoing Tory Party leadership battle and the summer recess which sees everything slow down anyway.”
New research by Total Landlord Insurance reveals that 17 per cent of landlords planned to reduce the size of their portfolio due to the government’s latest plans to reform the rental sector.
These statistics, claims Evans, show the level of uncertainty there is among landlords across England.
“There are no guarantees all points made in the White Paper will make it to the official reform bill when there are changes in government. New points will likely get added and there will be further clarification at some point.
“Levelling up and housing reform weren’t just Boris Johnson’s idea – he was just the figurehead for it. Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, for example, seemed to be very much on board with this agenda. Truss, the favourite, was loyal to Boris to the last, and although she’s been seen as the change candidate by offering tax cuts, it’s unlikely she’d rip up the manifesto that the Tories won on in 2019, nor make a complete break from the past. This could help to expedite rental reform.
“Whatever happens, it’s important for the government not to take its eye off the ball with rental reform, which will simply leave landlords, agents, and tenants in limbo again.”