Queen’s Speech 2022: Property perspective
Queen’s Speech 2022: Property perspective
As the Platinum Jubilee celebrations came to an end this week, we have taken the time to reflect on last month’s Queen’s speech and the key proposals which are relevant to the property world.
Private Rented Sector
The Renters Form Bill was first proposed by Theresa May’s government back in 2019, and the 2022 speech reiterates the Government’s commitment to it, although we are still waiting for the publication of a White Paper to learn more. It is promised ‘shortly,’ and hopefully by the summer.
The bill aims to improve living standards for those in private residential accommodation. It proposes to do this by abolishing ‘no fault evictions’ (known as section 21 evictions), which some believe have been improperly used, whilst strengthening landlords’ section 8 grounds for possession (in particular, where there have been repetitive rent arrears and / or anti-social behaviour).
It also aims to increase landlord’s accountability by introducing a Private Renter’s ombudsman, to provide tenants an alternative and less costly means of redress without recourse to court, and an online ‘property portal’ to help landlords better understand their obligations and provide a source of information about properties to tenants / local authorities.
There is also discussion about extending the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector. This currently only applies in a social housing context and requires public sector housing to be built and maintained to a certain standard.
Public Rented Sector
Through the Social Housing Regulation Bill, the government aims to improve the regulation of social housing by increasing transparency and accountability. This is primarily through enhancement of the powers of the Social Housing Regulator, with proposals to enable them to inspect and intervene (including arranging emergency repairs) where a landlord’s performance or the property conditions are sub-standard. It has also pledged to introduce new tenant satisfaction measures, enabling tenants to understand how their landlord is performing, and a system through which tenants may request information from their landlord, akin to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The government remains committed to assisting people to purchase their own home and ‘level up’ home ownership. The briefing notes touch upon a ‘comprehensive programme of reform.’ As a part of this, the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 will come into force on 30 June 2022, prohibiting financial ground rents in most residential-long leases. There is also mention of improving the lease enfranchisement process, equipping leaseholders with better information about what their costs cover, banning leasehold houses so that all new homes are freehold and delivering a commonhold system of ownership.
Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill proposes to tackle geographical inequality across the Country. The briefing notes consider increased devolution of powers to local leaders, local design codes and ‘street votes,’ to equip residents with a greater say in the types of buildings which are permitted in their area. There is also discussion around introducing a new approach to environmental assessment in the planning system, with a view to the environment being further prioritised in decision making.
The Bill also proposes to introduce a radical ‘rental auction’ scheme, through which landlords may be forced to let empty shops in a bid to rejuvenate town centres and high streets. Buildings left vacate for a year (or 366 days out of the preceding 2 years) will be entered into a rental auction run by the local authority which will ultimately enable properties to be let without the consent of the owner or mortgagees.
The speech reiterated the government’s plans to reform the Electronic Communications Code via the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, to support ‘faster, fairer and more collaborative negotiations’ between parties and facilitate the roll out of improved communications networks. The government’s ambition is to ensure 95% of the country has access to 4G coverage by 2025, and that most of us have 5G coverage by 2027.
In furtherance of the Government’s ambition to ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions, the proposed Transport Bill will, amongst matters, enable the much-needed expansion and deployment of electric vehicle charging points. This will facilitate its commitment to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.
In continuation of its net-zero emissions policy, and in the context of the current energy crisis, the Government also proposes an Energy Bill to continue the transition towards cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy supply. This implementation of this key policy will not only impact consumers, but will also have implications for how new properties are constructed and existing stock maintained and retrofitted.
We will continue to keep you updated on headline developments in the coming year.