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Opinion: Is Rental Reform contaminated by Johnson’s involvement?

With the (eventual) departure of Boris Johnson, the next question for landlords and indeed much of the property industry is: What’s going to become of the Renters’ Reform Bill?

It may just continue its path through Parliament without significant interruption, under the temporary leadership of new Housing Secretary Greg Clarke. That will at best take many months, perhaps over a year for some provisions, so even if its progress continues there will be little change to the lettings industry in the immediate future.

However, there are three reasons for optimistically hoping for changes to the Bill and the mood music surrounding rentals. In other words, there's still everything to fight for.,


Firstly, it is possible that a political reshuffle at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities under a new Prime Minister may herald changes ‘from within’ so to speak. 

The only remaining junior minister at the DLUHC at the time of writing is Eddie Hughes, a long-time Boris Johnson supporter; if he remains in post in the long term, the Bill will probably remain unchanged. But if he is replaced, perhaps because Johnson supporters are seen as politically toxic, it is possible that his successor will want to make their own mark. 

They could, of course, be even more pro-tenant and anti-landlord than Michael Gove and his ministers were; but that is extremely unlikely so we must hope that they are less bombastic and more even-handed.

Secondly, there is much political debate that the demise of Johnson - a man whose long term political strategy was based mostly on self publicity and survival, irrespective of philosophy - may herald a return to more traditional Conservative thinking.

This is especially so on fiscal issues, with many potential Tory leadership candidates suggesting that they want a government more obviously pursuing the low tax economy that Conservatives previously supported. 

If that is the case, that party’s long-term relationship with landlords may be up for repair, including a new and more favourable tax settlement for landlords after years of fiscal attack.

Thirdly, there may be a change of tone and language

Ex-Housing Secretary Michael Gove has been outspoken in his criticism of landlords in general and his junior ministers, when they were in post, sometimes followed suit. Sticks and stones, and all that, but name-calling and demonising landlords have not helped create the collegiate working relationship with trade bodies that should have been a pre-requisite for radical reforms.

It’s likely that the yobbery of the Johnson government, led from the very top, may now give way to a more grown-up and nuanced debate.

That will require compromises, but those will be from both sides of the debate - not a one-way street as seen recently.

Pie in the sky? Perhaps. But this re-set is a timely opportunity to modify the Rental Reform Bill to create a modern, safe, effective private rental sector and not one shaped solely by the ruling party pandering to campaign groups in order to win tenants’ votes at the next General Election.

* Graham Norwood is editor of Landlord Today *

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

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    Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

    Peter  Yednell

    No one in goverment seems to undersrabd that ending fixed term tenancies will damage rental supply. Before Thatcher brought out Assured Shortholds, it was virtually impossible to find anywhere to rent unless one qualified forvsocial housing. Fixed ten tenancies are working perfectly well in the non benefit part of the market. The goverment needs to reform how it pays benefit and not damage the entire rental market. Paying benefit in property size and not rental value encourages slum landlords who neglect their properties and who may use fixed tenancies to squash complaints. Why should the rest of us suffer through the lazy goverment benefit policy. Nevertheless, the likes of Shelter have the government's ear. We LL's should therefore propose /accept five year minium tenancies as at least giving us a five year gurantee of repossession.


    In Wales, they simply increased the no fault notice period from two to six months.

    The Welsh Government is lead by Welsh Labour.

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    Mr Johnson resigned but Eddie Hughes still in place that was put there by discredited Johnson. The Renters Reform Bill will crash the economy so if that’s what they want continue, you can’t have an economy based on housing alone not sustainable which is what seems to be happening now, its a merry go around LL collects the rent pays the tax to help house over a million housing benefit claimants much of which is paid to LL’s to house them to re-repay the tax again in a circle for ever. Looks like Mr Johnson is still in place they’ll need a Section 21 to get him out.

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    S21? That’s means about a year wait to gain possession. And that’s without him introducing another ban because of a bit of Covid.

    And who will take him now for a job? Once he’s in he proves he won’t get out. He’s too risky.

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    The tenants of the future need to hope the bill is changed, or their potential to obtain any rental property is severely diminished.

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    The rental reforms have not been well thought out because the rational response of a great number of landlords has been that they will exit the private rental sector. The Government could respond by saying that they wanted a smaller private rental sector, but the big problem with that was that there were insufficient plans to house those who could no longer find accommodation. Buying was not necessarily a good solution, even if a possible alternative, because a huge number of tenants want to share with friends on a relatively short term basis. The model that the Government proposed was not suitable for those groups of tenants - and too much control of everything - like the Soviet Union.

  • George Dawes

    Boris couldn’t run a bath let alone a country , permanent civil servants have the real power , always have

    Face it would you let a pillock who combs his hair with his elbows near anything vaguely important ?


    Maybe he could not run a bath but I bet he could have it redecorated - provided somone funded it.


    Plenty of women have...

  • George Dawes

    Carrie would spend 200k wallpapering it no doubt

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    Angela Rayner has said the Labour party will bring a vote of no confidence forward before summer recess unless the Conservative party forces Boris Johnson out immediately.

    Could that lead to a general election?

    Could things get even worse for landlords?


    If there were a G E now labour would walk it, and that would be bad news for landlords

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    It doesn't help that Eddie Hughs is the Under-Secretary of State for Housing and Rough Sleeping. You can see where his priorities lie...

  • George Dawes

    All planned, put a buffoon up front , here’s your alternative , just as bad if not worse …

    Sir kier starmer QC multi millionaire, man of the people /s

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    It’s the wrong headline it’s not Renters Reform Bill or levelling up although it could be called levelling down.
    It should be called what it is The Landlords’s Property Confiscation Bill.

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    You do not understand the situation in Wales. It is dire. The new legislation starts on Dec 1st this year. The tenant has to live int he dwelling for 6 months before you can give notice of another six months for them to leave that means 12 months! But the tenant only has to give 4 WEEKS notice to leave. If this does not go through in England, then Wales is in a much much much worse situation. Julie James the author of this draconian legislation is killing the rental sector!!!!!! What on earth are we going to do as Landlords. Furthermore we have just had to complete a 94 page exam. The legislation is difficult to understand for an ordinary mortal, and there is no help, the only piece of advice given after rining at least 12 sources is if you want help you must seek professional advice, from specialist lawyers at at least £200+ an hour!!! Cannot afford it, Rents are low in Wales and we have the dreaded EPC facing us as well. We have 1 rental 2 bed property. Cannot sell, capital gains will be too high as we have rented for many years, cannot stay because of the present situation. We are in our 70s and 80s. Feeling utterly squeezed dry with no one or no where to turn.


    I think you would be well advised to pay the CGT and get out now, do you want all that stress that's coming just around the corner at your time of life, make no mistake stress is a killer as we get older


    The Welsh situation is not ideal, but at least you can get your property back after a year. The proposed English legislation does not allow you to get your property back EVER unless one of the reasons applies - and those reasons may all become discretionary in the future, too.

    i am very sympathetic about the stress element of your situation, Beryl. I agree with Andrew that stress is a killer. Don't subject to yourself to it when you are older.

    I have a very, very difficult tenant at the moment who is creating problems and I am losing sleep as a result. I am sure that that is very unhealthy.


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