Today, Prince Charles has read his mother’s speech at the ceremonial opening of Parliament, accompanied by his son, Prince William, outlining the government’s legislative plans for the new parliamentary session.
The Queen is absent from proceedings for the first time since 1963, due to “mobility issues”, Buckingham Palace has said.
Daniel Evans, chair of the AIIC, comments:
“While it’s a positive that a timetable for the White Paper and the Renters Reform Bill has now been set out, I don’t think anyone in the lettings industry will be jumping for joy until these plans start to see the light of the day.
Will the government – distracted by everything from partygate to war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and its own internal strife, worsened by the recent poor showing at the local elections – be able to keep its eye on the ball with something as major as widespread rental reform?
We’ve heard for many years the plans to scrap Section 21, introduce a compulsory landlord register (as is already the case in Scotland) and implement lifetime deposits, but we’ve never really got any further than that.
This latest announcement is a step in the right direction, but as we’ll remember from previous Queen Speeches, this isn’t the first time rental reform has been promised.
Equally, pledges made in the Queen Speech aren’t always adhered to, so I think it’s important the industry doesn’t get too far ahead of itself.
We all need a bit more clarity and certainty, and hopefully now we know the direction of travel with regards to rental reform, the momentum behind it will no longer falter.”
Paresh Raja, CEO, Market Financial Solutions, commented:
“Will they, won’t they – that was the big question surrounding the Planning Bill ahead of today’s Queen’s Speech.
It is certainly positive to hear it mentioned, with the policy seemingly dragged back out of the proverbial long grass, into which it was kicked last year.
As ever, the devil will be in the detail, but stating that “the planning system will be reformed” is a start at least.
Let’s start with the obvious fact: the UK needs more housing, and fast.
To achieve this, we need to make it easier to build more new homes and, crucially, also convert disused commercial properties into residential ones.
Tabling the Planning Bill is a vital first step in hopefully addressing the red tape that prevents the delivery of new homes.
Question marks hang over the purported decision to give local leaders more power to revitalise high streets, which was hinted at.
It sounds promising, but the policy could miss the mark a little. Landlords seldom want their properties to sit empty – really the question whether there is viable demand from businesses to rent shops and offices, and at a price that ensures landlords can cover their costs.
The continued efforts to raise standards in the private rental sector and protect tenants’ right is welcomed. It will be interesting to see how this takes shape.”
Jamie Johnson, CEO, FJP Investment, comments:
“It’s encouraging that today’s Queen’s Speech has signalled a renewed effort in favour of tackling geographic inequality across the UK as part of the forthcoming levelling-up and regeneration bill.
In the face of the current pressing economic, social and environmental challenges, now more than ever, it is crucial that housing is put at the forefront of the government’s agenda and while a root and branch shake-up of the planning system is still required, the reforms referenced today are a step in the right direction towards increasing the number of homes that this country so desperately needs.”
Comment on the abolishment of Section 21: Adam Male, Chief Revenue Officer at online lettings agent Mashroom:
“The Renters Reform Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech outlined the abolishment of Section 21, ending the ‘no fault’ eviction notices that tenants in the UK can often face.
Whilst this provides extra security and reassurance for tenants, landlords may find the removal of Section 21 concerning.
Abolishing Section 21 notices reduces the means for landlords to gain access to their properties, which has served as a safety net should they need to regain possession quickly.
Many private landlords would tell you that they are unlikely to evict reliable tenants who look after their property and are on time with rental payments.
Reasons why landlords may want to vacate their rental properties quickly include rent arrears, antisocial behaviour, damage or that they may want to live in the home themselves.
Abolishing Section 21 makes removing unruly tenants much more difficult, instead having to rely on Section 8 notices, which take longer to process and will most likely be taken to court.
Going down the Section 8 route can take 12 months or more to regain possession of the property and a lengthy battle through the courts, despite having a genuine reason to evict a tenant quickly.
The reforms are unlikely to change this for landlords and there’s every possibility that waiting times could increase, as courts will be busier dealing with more cases following the abolishment of Section 21.”
Neil Cobbold, PayProp UK managing director, comments:
“We welcome the remarks in the Queen’s Speech on the timetable for rental reform.
We now have more clarity on this important area of government policy, but there remain a number of question marks over how it will be implemented.
The changes to Section 21, and a beefed-up Section 8, have been on the agenda for some time, but they continue to strongly divide opinion.
The government will need to manage them carefully to ensure the interests of landlords, agents and tenants alike are catered for.
The concept of lifetime deposits has been more widely welcomed, but wasn’t mentioned in the plans for rental reform.
In principle, making it faster and cheaper to move from tenancy to tenancy is a win for landlords, agents and tenants, but legitimate concerns remain about how this will work in practice, if indeed it still forms part of the government’s plans.
It’s clear that tech has a key role to play here, and we hope the industry is given a place at the table to discuss this. Like many other providers and lettings professionals, PayProp keenly awaits more details.”
Steven Cooper, head of residential consulting at Cluttons, said:
“It was encouraging that Planning reforms were mentioned in the Queen’s speech as the system is in dire need of reforms to make the process more simple and in favour of the right kind of development.
The UK is missing a trick when it comes to simplifying the process for sites in key growth areas for various land uses.
We also want to see more thought given to accessibility when it comes to planning consultations with preference given to virtual engagement and requiring diversity of representation on committees which more accurately reflect today’s population – for example, young people should be welcomed onto committees and be sought out for community engagement – after all, they will be the people using or needing development in the future.”
Giles Sutcliffe, head of affordable housing at Cluttons, said:
“With a housing crisis imminent and inflation and build costs showing no signs of slowing down, new residential projects are becoming increasingly financially unviable.
We are hearing from some Housing Associations that build costs for large projects in the London area have jumped from £2,500 per sq m to £3,000 per sq m in just three years.
Therefore the government, the GLA and local authorities need to get real on this issue and reduce their affordable housing expectations and contribute more government grants for affordable housing to ease the burden.
The announcement that developers will be required to fund specific affordable schemes as part of the planning process is interesting and could be helpful but we need to ensure that this is done fairly and consistently across the UK in line with levelling up, ensuring that planning decisions on affordable housing are financially viable – namely that the value generated by a development is more than the cost of developing it.”
Niall Keighron, sustainability practitioner at Cluttons said:
“An Energy Bill was expected to be announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, with the Bill focussing on the expansion of low-carbon technologies and delivering measures contained within the recently published Energy Security Strategy.
With energy bills currently at a record high, we must seize this opportunity to transition to our own sources of domestic, renewable energy and start to deliver on the commitments of a low-carbon power system by 2035 and a net-zero economy of 2050.
We would have liked to have seen more support for non-domestic heat incentives – currently there is no financial support for businesses or councils adopting large-scale low-carbon heating schemes, since the closure of the non-domestic renewable heat incentive in 2021.
Lastly, despite the announcement earlier this year that the Government wants to roll out 300,000 more charging points by 2030, we have not seen any incentives to support this growth nor make EVs more affordable which would help people save on the rising cost of fuel as well as reducing emissions, and meeting net-zero targets.”
Ryan Jones and Michael Hampton-Riddington, partners in Cluttons’ business rates team said:
“We were not expecting further business rate relief to be announced for struggling businesses other than the extended retail relief and additional smaller/regional relief funds, including CARF payments, that were announced during last year’s Autumn Statement.
With the current online sales tax consultation ongoing, perhaps the powers that be are waiting for the findings from this before going forward with any more policy proposals.
Obviously this is disappointing as the cost of living and the need to level up are core concerns for the UK.
In our minds, levelling up includes fairer tax payments from those businesses that have huge online sales in the UK to fund more relief for physical retail to protect our country’s high streets and keep small businesses alive.
As such, we will continue to call for a fairer and simpler system and hope the consultation results yield quick policy decisions that will make an impact in the next financial year.”
Jamie McCombe, head of investment management at Cluttons, said:
“As expected, the announcement of the regeneration bill requiring landlords to force the leasing of empty units is yet another hopeful bid to save the UK’s high streets, whereby local councils will take on the rental responsibility to ensure the vitality of the high street is not significantly eroded.
While it is clear this is borne out of good intentions, many aspects of this initiative are flawed as it seemingly includes all high street units – which presents its own challenges in terms of differing location and size – and takes away the very mechanics of the property market – that of demand vs supply and also the longer-term local strategies that curate a well-performing place as those who can afford higher rents may bid despite not being the right offer for a particular location.
In these cases the high street may deteriorate further. In terms of an asset management perspective, it may also have valuation implications for landlords with loan to value covenants to meet.
Many have called for the lowering of business rates to help landlords rather than them being forced to give up their units for auction. More thinking is certainly required on this.”
Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, commented:
“Plenty to begin to excite the property industry in the Queen’s Speech as delivered by consort the Prince of Wales.
Whilst light on detail as is usual, the Government’s agenda includes yet more planning reforms and a nod to improving social housing tenure so that conditions are better and safer.
The problem with announcements around planning reform, whilst it is badly needed, is that injecting more democracy on a local level is likely to clog up the system rather than improve it.
Encouraging NIMBYism is probably not the best way to get more homes through the planning approval process.
In any case, planning is not the obstacle as there are hundreds of thousands of plots with planning consent across the UK right now that are not being built upon.”
James Forrester, Managing Director of property developer, StripeHomes, commented:
“Reforming and improving the slow and cumbersome planning process would be welcome if it were not for the fact that successive governments have had several stabs at doing so – usually via big punchy headlines that rarely come to fruition.
Remember Garden Towns and Garden Villages?
In fact, the last reforms announced were swiftly jettisoned when rural Conservative MPs objected to the less democratic means proposed by Robert Jenrick, whereby towns could designate areas as ‘automatic consent areas’ that would not require the local authority to assess consent.
The graveyard of Westminster housing policy announcements is full to bursting with discarded headlines and the likelihood is that many of today’s will end up there as well.”