Landlords have recently faced a barrage of changes in legislation from the introduction of the Right to Rent and the 'tenant tax' to the planned abolishment of tenant fees – will the government’s latest Housing White Paper reveal more changes?
The primary aim of the Housing White Paper is to establish "ambitious proposals to help fix the housing market so that more ordinary working people from across the country can have the security of a decent place to live."
It should also be noted that the governments previous focus on 'homeownership for all' has taken a backseat with the 20% threshold for Starter Homes and the 200,000 target by 2020 being scrapped and funding being made available for the development of affordable rental schemes alongside the new build-to-rent methodology. It is great to see the government responding to the demand for both affordable and market rent homes by supporting innovative development schemes such as the new build-to-rent methodology.
Government proposals to address the high cost of renting
The Housing White Paper did not announce any new initiatives that will directly affect the private rent sector, although it did state that "the Government will put measures to tackle the high cost of renting at the heart of its plan to fix the broken housing market".
These measures include:
· Ensuring a consultation on the banning of tenant fees is published in early 2017.
· Continued support for the implementation of elements of the Housing and Planning Act to improve standards in the sector.
Government plans to promote 3 year tenancies will not apply to private landlords
Initial fears that private buy-to-let landlords would be forced to offer their tenants longer term tenancies prior to the publication of the White Paper have been quashed. Thankfully, the document setting out the detailed plans for offering long-term private tenancies revealed that this would not impact on private landlords, but would utilise local councils, housing association and institutional investors to develop new homes for private rent.
The Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell is aware that forcing private landlords to offer 3 year tenancies would not be a good idea but he hopes that by introducing long-term private tenancies into the sector the demands of tenants will change, subsequently 'encouraging' other landlords to follow suit.
The Build-to-Rent sector, when considering both existing and planned homes, accounts for a miniscule proportion of privately rented homes in the UK and so it is unlikely that by introducing longer term tenancies into such a small fraction of the sector that the market will be disrupted, as the Housing Minister hopes. However, the government is considering how security of tenure for private renters can be increased alongside "encouraging continued investment" in the private rent sector.