Levelling up for landlords: your questions answered
Levelling Up the United Kingdom is a new White Paper released by the Government. It’s aim is to bring better opportunities to all, no matter where people live in the UK, and one of the areas it wants to reform is housing.
The White Paper will have an effect on how lettings operates and the standard of rented homes available, so landlords do need to pay attention. In this blog, we answer the most commonly asked questions about Levelling up The UK.
Q. Is the Levelling Up White Paper the same as the Renters’ Reform Bill?
Despite there being some crossover in content, these are two separate entities. The Levelling Up the United Kingdom White Paper does mention many aspects that pertain to lettings but the text also refers to a ‘landmark’ White Paper to be published in spring 2022. This is another document that acts as a prelude to the Renters’ Reform Bill, and it may contain additional changes specifically related to lettings.
Q. What’s happening about evictions?
Talk of banning Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions has been swirling around the lettings industry for almost two years and the Levelling Up White Paper confirms that this is still the Government’s intention. It is hoped a brand new Section notice will be introduced or an amendment will be made to the existing Section 8 notice in order to protect landlords looking to regain their properties.
Q. Will I have to make improvements to my buy-to-let property?
The Government has announced that it is to consult on a new legally binding Decent Homes Standard in the PRS (private rented sector). Although there are no details of what constitutes ‘decent’, there is already a Government document called A Decent Home for social landlords. Any new Decent Homes Standards for the PRS could be influenced by this. Landlords should expect, by law, to make the upgrades and improvements required to bring their properties up to a new minimum standard for habitation.
Q. What’s being done to stop rogue landlords?
The Government would like to drive bad landlords out of the sector and one way of doing this is to introduce a National Landlord Register. Although there is already a database of rogue landlords, it is only available for use by local authority enforcement professionals. It is thought a National Landlord Register would be open to the public, allowing tenants to identify landlords to avoid.
Q. Will it become easier to buy and sell rented properties?
The Levelling Up White Paper acknowledges that the buying process could be improved. It wants to ensure ‘critical information buyers need to know is available digitally wherever possible from trusted and authenticated sources’. This may pave the way for less paperwork and more online communication, as well as improved central sources of digital information and pre-prepared property details.
Q. When are all the changes coming into effect?
As of 3rd February 2022, no fixed dates for these changes were given. As an illustration, the Renters’ Reform Bill was put forward in 2019 but nothing has been adopted by law or ratified yet. It may take months – years even – to see the full effect of the proposals and in the case of the National Landlord Register, this is a reform that the Government is merely consulting on. We will update landlords after the spring White Paper has been published.
Although it isn’t exactly light reading, you can read the full Levelling Up the United Kingdom White Paper on the Government’s website (there’s also an executive summary for those short on time).
If you think any of the proposed changes will affect your buy-to-let or investment portfolio, get in touch for advice and guidance.