What could the election mean for private landlords?

read time: 4 mins

The uncertainly surrounding which party will succeed on 4 July 2024 is equalled by what might happen after the election to private landlords. The regulation, red tape, and restrictions applied over the last few years appear likely to only get worse for private landlords, regardless of which party succeeds at the election. 

There is a climate of ‘landlord bashing’, and a failure to appreciate that there are many good and responsible private landlords, who provide an important service to those looking for housing in the rental sector, and without whom, there would be a huge shortage of good quality accommodation.

It is a concern that landlords are reportedly leaving the market in droves, the availability of rental accommodation is scarce, and the competition for those properties that are available is having the knock on effect of pushing up rents (which is presumably contrary to the intention of any of the parties).

Changes to the Renters Reform Bill and s.21 ‘no fault evictions’

Although the Renters Reform Bill was not legislated before parliament was dissolved, it is likely to be passed in some form or another regardless of which party is successful. Labour’s manifesto indicates that they will immediately abolish s.21 ‘no fault evictions’ and will take steps to raise private rented standards. As would be expected, the Conservative party’s manifesto states that they will pass the Renters Reform Bill, (which includes the abolition of s.21 evictions), and the Liberal Democrats would abolish no fault evictions, make 3 year tenancies the norm and extend current licencing requirements to all residential landlords. Other parties also cover housing in their manifestos with the majority having tenant facing proposals.

Whilst there is of course sympathy with tenants who, because of the prospect of a s.21 notice being served, lack long term security, this ignores the fact that most landlords will not ever want to serve a s.21 notice, and most rarely do. This is usually a last resort because a tenant is either not paying the rent, not looking after the property, engaging in nuisance behaviour or the landlord wishes to sell the property. As the cost of preparing a property for a new tenant, (i.e. in marketing costs, fees for the preparation of new tenancy documentation etc), can be extremely costly and the property is void pending a re-let, this is not something a landlord would do unless forced into a position where they have no other option.

Most landlords want a good long term tenant who respects and looks after their property. Whilst there are many excellent tenants, there are also some very bad ones. The ability to serve a s.21 notice gives landlords the security that they do not have to prove any ground to seek possession and means that they have a greater prospect of recovering possession of their property sooner so that they can rent it to another tenant. 

Court backlogs and their impact on landlords

This is all the more important given the court backlogs in issuing possession proceedings, listing hearings and obtaining warrant dates even when s.21 is being relied on and the court’s so called ‘accelerated possession’ process being used. This delay when a tenant has stopped paying rent or is continuing to cause a nuisance to neighbours can cause significant expense and concern for private landlords who are often reliant on the income from letting, (i.e. pensioners who have a property to let as their pension, or where landlords have taken out loans to purchase or improve the property). Unless, therefore, the court process is improved, the balance of power is firmly in favour of tenants and there is less incentive for landlords to stay in, or even enter, the market. Ironically, this is likely to dissuade the good landlords (the bad landlords remaining as they simply do not follow the rules anyway), and will increase rents, and have the opposite desired effect.

It is not clear what timescales will apply to changes following the election on 4 July 2024, therefore, if you are a landlord, or you work with or for landlords, it is a matter of watching this space.

For more information, please contact Victoria Bonnet in our property disputes team.

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