The Queen’s Speech: Social Housing Implications
Author: Joshua Prior
Key Contact: Liz Gibbons
In this year’s Queen’s Speech, the Prince of Wales introduced two new bills that would be put before Parliament to increase the quality of renters’ rights: the Social Housing Regulation Bill and the Renters Reform Bill. The Prince of Wales also made reference to the Government’s plan for housing reform, which most recently includes the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 which comes into force on 30th June 2022.
The UK Government’s levelling up programme aims to halve the number of “non-decent” rented homes in the next seven years and create an environment which is fairer and more equal for tenants and landlords alike.
Social Housing Regulation Bill
Executive Summary: Our Social Housing Regulation Bill will eradicate the poor treatment of tenants by some landlords. We will focus on levelling up homeownership for all as part of a fair and just housing system
The lobby pack that accompanies the Queen’s Speech describes the purpose of the bill to “Increase social housing tenants’ rights to better homes and enhance their ability to hold their landlords to account, addressing concerns that the Grenfell Tower tragedy raised.” The Government is clearly committed to championing the rights of tenants, and the increased role of the Housing Ombudsman and the Regulator of Social Housing (Regulator) has been praised by Local Government Association.
The Regulator would, in the current form of the bill, have far more power than it currently does by being able to issue limitless fines, inspect homes, intervene in poorly managed associations, and order emergency repairs.
ITV News has reported that there are more one million families on social housing waiting lists in England, with a further 96,000 families in temporary accommodation.
Renters Reform Bill
Executive Summary: The Renters Reform Bill will abolish so-called ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions and strengthen landlords’ rights of possession, providing a fair and effective market for both tenants and landlords
A more robust legal framework and stable rental market would aid both tenants and landlords by initially supporting and empowering tenants and by allowing for better investment by landlords in a more stable market.
By removing Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act, private tenants will receive far more security and allow them to challenge landlord poor practices and unreasonable rent rises without the fear of repercussions. Advocacy group Generation Rent have published statistics which show that S21 evictions are closely linked to levels of homelessness within England and Wales.
Renters will also benefit from the Decent Homes Standard being legally enforced in the Private Rented Sector for the first time since its inception almost two decades ago. A new ombudsman will also be introduced, replacing the costly court system, and ensuring that tenant’s complaints are taken seriously and that landlords put things right by acting swiftly.
However, the Bill is not wholly aimed at providing renters with a more positive experience. Landlords will enjoy reformed possession grounds which include a reduced notice period for anti-social behaviour and stronger grounds for repeated incidences of rent arrears. A new landlord portal will be aimed at helping landlords understand their obligations, as well as providing tenants with information which will hold their landlords to account.
The Effect on Wales
Whilst both bills will extend to England and Wales, they will only apply to England. This is due to housing being devolved in Wales. Whilst Scotland has the largest social housing estates in the UK, Wales has also been targeting poor housing standards and providing decent social housing, so whilst these bills will not directly affect Wales, we do hope that they will inspire the Senedd to further their fight for better housing.
Want to find out more? Speak to one of the Social Housing team today.