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What party manifestos say about Renters Reform

By Manjit Kataora

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Heading into the election, many landlords are wondering what will happen with Renters Reform. Foxtons Director - Legal and Compliance, Manjit Kataora has studied the conservative and labour manifestos, and shares some key updates:

The Conservative Manifesto and Renters Reform

Tucked away on page 53 of the Conservative Party Manifesto, there reads the following passage: “We will pass a Renters Reform Bill that will deliver fairness in the rental market for landlords and renters alike”.

The irony of this will be lost on few followers of rental reforms. When on May 22 Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a snap general election would take place on July 4, the renters reform bill was already on its second reading in the House of Lords. But in the melee that ensued during the limited parliamentary window prior to dissolution and the beginning of election campaigning ( knowns as the ‘wash up’ period) the bill simply couldn’t overcome the competition from other draft laws to make it past the finishing line. Arguably, had an election been called for a date in October, the probability of a Renters Reform Act being passed in 2024 would have been a genuine prospect.

Essentially then, we are no further forward now than when in 2019 the Conservatives pledged to bring in ‘a better deal for renters, including abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions’. However, the actual reasons go deeper than this. Part of the reason for the delay in the bill’s progress was down to the genuine practical difficulties in abolishing no-fault evictions without an adequately resourced court system, and then later the real concerns about outlawing the freedoms of landlords and tenants to agree fixed-term tenancies where they both want one.

The Labour Manifesto and Renters Reform

For its part, the Labour party has so far not come out and said what it plans to do by way of rental reforms in any great detail. But under the ‘Family Security’ heading of its Election Manifesto there appears the following: “Labour will legislate where the Conservatives have failed, overhauling the regulation of the private rented sector. We will immediately abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, prevent private renters being exploited and discriminated against, empower them to challenge unreasonable rent increases, and take steps to decisively raise standards, including extending ‘Awaab’s Law’ to the private sector”. Nothing drastically different from the Conservative pledge, then - or the bill as we knew it - except that we don’t know what ‘immediately’ means and there is no detail on how the court systems would function without adequate support, given that abolishing no-fault evictions means every possession case would have to appear before a judge.

As things currently stand, the election will be held on July 4. The winner will be announced on July 5 and the state opening of Parliament is scheduled for July 17. At opening, we will hear the King’s Speech, in which the new government will set out its agenda for the new parliamentary session including the new laws it intends to implement. Following the King’s Speech, new bills will over time be introduced and the process of law-making – including rental reforms – begins, based of course on the winning party’s manifesto pledges.

Whoever wins will have the benefit of an advanced draft set of reforms with the added advantage of being able to see where the difficulties lay in trying to get it through. We can probably expect a familiar looking draft bill once it emerges but with the party conference season looming during the summer, it remains to seen how quickly this will happen and how the practical issues and difficulties identified in the bill will be addressed.

How to keep track of developments

If you've got property questions heading into the upcoming election, we're here, as always, to provide the best insight:

Rental Market pre-election update: Summer moves and manifesto promises

Reform round up: Leasehold vs Freehold and Renters Reform

Sales market pre-election sentiment: 95% of homebuyers undeterred by General Election, what about you?

Landlord Essentials is a series of articles where our experts delve into the big questions for London landlords. If you have a question on letting your property in London, ask a Foxtons expert. If you want help making your property a success, get in touch with Foxtons lettings team.

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