2019 Elections – Landlords in the crosshairs?

With another general election looming, it is important that  landlords, investors and developers consider the policies that the various parties will be implementing if elected and the implications that these might have. Landlords will be familiar with the constantly increasing volume of rules and regulations in the sector over recent years, and this looks set to be a trend which will continue with the 2019 election.

According to a recent analysis by the RLA , since the Conservative-led coalition government came to power in 2010 the number of laws on private landlords has increased by 32 per cent, and the total number of regulations affecting landlords has increased to 156, up from 118 (see here for a complete list of all 156 measures).  Most recently these have included the ban on tenants’ fees, capping tenants’ deposits and strengthened rules on fitness for habitation.

Still to come from the government when the election was called were mandatory five-yearly electrical safety inspections, the introduction of three-year tenancies as the norm and the repeal of rules on ‘no-fault’ evictions at the end of tenancies (using Section 21 notices).

In parallel there have been major changes in tax rules – restriction of tax relief on mortgage interest, ending of the ‘wear and tear allowance’, restriction of private residence relief, the introduction of a 3% levy on buying properties which are not main residences, new rules for foreign owners and for companies that own residential property.

So, how will the different parties approach housing going forward?

Over the last week we have seen the parties release their manifestos to the public. The election manifestos of the main parties show that whoever wins the election housing will remain a priority issue, however there is variation in how each party would approach this:

  • Labour, Lib Dems and the Greens are all proposing rent controls and mandatory landlord licensing
  • Labour and Lib Dems go further and aim to improve property standards.
  • Labour plans for regional tenant unions, to increase tenant voice and the requirement for rented properties to pass an annual inspection.
  • All these parties follow the Conservative lead on longer-term tenancies and ending ‘no-fault’ termination of tenancies.

These all form part of a fairer renting agenda for the benefit of tenants. Some go further in helping renters. The Lib Dems propose a Help to Rent scheme to provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30; under the Conservatives, renters will be able to have Lifetime Rental Deposits which can be transferred from one rental property to another.

Labour would also end the Right to Rent immigration checks introduced in [2017], and which have been found unlawful by the courts. Climate change features prominently, with the Greens proposing landlords ensure homes are ’A’ rated for energy efficiency by 2030, up from ‘E’ rated currently.

Unsettling as this shifting landscape may be, responsible landlords letting good-quality homes and treating their tenants decently can still find lettings rewarding. The principal challenge is keeping on top of the rules, many of which require painstaking compliance with detail and process. Where that becomes a burden, professional help is at hand.

We are regularly undertaking training in order to keep up to date with this ever-increasing legislative burden including important updates from ARLA Propertymark. We can take this burden off your hands and manage your property while it is rented. If you think we can be of assistance, get in touch and we would be more than happy to help.