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Local Elections: a chance to influence the future of the private rented sector

Next Thursday voters up and down the country will be casting their votes in a series of local elections which are likely to reflect on the Conservative government’s turbulent term to date and provide some indication as to the likely result of the next general election. 

For private sector landlords there are many very pressing and immediate local issues which may be determined by these elections – from the application of local rules, regulations and restrictions, to candidates’ views on the future of the private rented sector, specifically in relation to the contentious Renters’ Reform Bill. 

So as a landlord, which issues you take into account when casting your vote? And if a candidate turns up on your doorstep, how can you use the opportunity to lobby for much-needed change in support of the private rented sector? 


We’ve given the topic a bit of thought and come up with the following suggestions. 

Short term lets

Holiday lets may now be under threat in certain areas of the country. This follows recent political announcements at a national level but will be determined locally by councillors. As such it is a topic on which all candidates should have a view. 

The issue is exemplified in the words of housing secretary Michael Gove, who told Parliament last month that that there was a, “problem in the private rented sector, particularly in beautiful parts of our country, where homes are being turned into Airbnbs and holiday lets in a way that impedes the capacity of young workers to find a place where they can stay in the locale that they love and contribute to the economy of which they wish to be part". Gove promised to bring forward measures to introduce, "restrictions on the way in which dwelling homes can be turned into Airbnbs".

Consequently his Department announced its proposal for a new planning use class for short term let properties. This would require planning consent, through permitted development rights, for the ‘conversion’ of houses into holiday homes.

According to the consultation document Introduction of a use class for short term lets and associated permitted development rights, a use class C5, would permit local planning authorities to “consider planning applications for new build short term lets and grant permission conditioned to the new class where appropriate”. 

Existing properties would automatically fall under class C5. But for new short term lets, planning permission would be required. Essentially this gives more power to local authorities over short term lets: if holiday homes are seen as threatening the supply of permanent homes, the council may refuse permission. This is an important consideration for landlords wishing to add to their short term lets portfolio. 

Furthermore, the Department for Culture Media and Sport has launched a separate consultation on a new registration scheme for short term lets to be introduced through the Levelling up and Regeneration Bill. The intention is to, “help to provide local planning authorities with information about which properties are being let out in their area” and “could provide valuable information to help them apply and enforce the use class changes.”

Landlords, especially those in costal areas and other areas popular with holiday makers might want to seek out candidates’ views on the impact of short term lets and whether, given the opportunity to deny change of use consent, they would choose to do so. 

Selective licensing

Landlords will be familiar with selective licensing, which in many local authorities requires that in specific areas privately let homes are licenced – effectively giving councils the ability to cap the number of HMOs. In such areas, all private landlords must obtain a licence and if they fail to do so, or fail to achieve acceptable management standards, the authority can impose a fine.

According to the legislation, Selective Licensing Scheme (SLS) should only be introduced in response to a problem with low housing demand or where there are significant and persistent problems of anti-social behaviour, and should be consistent with the council's housing strategy.

Landlords looking to expand their portfolios in areas with SLSs should question candidates as to why the council has introduced (or plans to introduce) selective licensing, how the (potential) impact on landlords can be reduced, and how any funds already raised through selective licensing have been used.


Another contentious issue currently awaiting a response is the question of individual council tax bandings per room for HMOs.  Proposals to remove the contentious tax are contained in the recent consultation Council tax valuation of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

Currently the tool is used very inconsistently and its impact comes at a considerable cost to landlords – another potential conversation point for the doorstep.

Renters’ Reform Bill 

Other emerging policies will impact on landlords, many of which will be included in the long-anticipated Renters’ Reform Bill. These include changed to open ended tenancies (specifically student lets) and the abolition of Section 21. LRG has carried out some considerable research into the use of Section 21 and found that suggestions that it is widely misused are vastly over-stated: our research found that 80% of landlords have never used Section 21 and of those that had, 6% did so when the tenant was in breach of the lease and only 3% where the tenant was not in breach of the lease.

When talking to candidates about the Renters’ Reform Bill, landlords have an opportunity to quiz the door-stepper on their knowledge of and support for these contentious policies, and perhaps to ascertain whether candidates understand the pressures being put upon landlords - or wrongly believe that penalising the private rented sector will somehow resolve the housing crisis. This should give an indication as to whether, as a politician, they will understand landlords’ difficulties in daily challenges or blindly take the tenant’s side in any dispute.


The suggestions outlined above may provide for some lively door-step conversations. And hopefully they show that local elections present a very valuable opportunity for landlords to persuade our future decision-makers of the potential impact of various policies, both local and national. 

* Allison Thompson is national lettings managing director of Leaders Romans Group *


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    The local elections have zero influence on what Westminster decides about how hard they are going to hit us….. and we know it will be hard WHEN Labour get in….. SELL SELL 💵💵


    A protest vote in local elections will send a firm message to government though, will it do any good ? doubtful, but I feel better for doing so

    Matthew Payne

    Dangerous game that Andrew. Whoever you vote for it should be governed by what they will do for you locally forget the national bit for now. District councils have more power than you might think. Protest votes lead to hung councils and unintended consequences.


    All my local conservatives have done for me is to go out of their way to stab me in the back at every turn Matthew

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    If it’s an opinion of anyone from Leaders then is not worth the data it’s written with.

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    I submit my vote by post, mine are in, 4 names on the paper, of which I can vote for 2, 2 conservative one of which was on the planning committee a few yrs back when I applied to convert a workshop on my land to a home for my son and his young family, I attended the meeting and spoke, this guy together with the woman chair person spoke to me like I was dog poo on their shoes, so no way am I voting for him, 1 green party, and one labour, so as a protest vote I've voted green and labour, not because I support them in any way, but I can no longer bring myself to vote conservative.


    Postal voted Reform Party (Only option, I would have spoiled my paper otherwise) for much the same reasons as you. They need a bloody nose to wake up.


    No reform party on there, safe conservative area though so they will get in even without my vote

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    I don’t think I’ll get any knocks. Just leaflets/paper stuffed through the door. AcSi on said above its when labour get in . Now next time. Cos the tories are so dis jointed and don’t know what to do . Pity ads Labour will be -FAR worse!!!

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    I had the Labour candidate come round a couple of weeks ago and he started off on Airbnbs. When pressed he couldn't actually pinpoint any in this ward. There are a few but this actual ward isn't a tourist hotspot so it's not a problem. The few that do exist are used by people visiting nearby friends and family or for work related training courses or relocation. We don't have the drunken stag party issue.
    Nine miles down the road is a whole different story.
    The candidates clearly aren't targeting their campaigning to locally relevant issues, which for prospective local councillors is a bit stupid.

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    The Strangest thing about all those Regulation’s is the Government wanting people to buy their own homes.
    Do they not understand that the Government is the biggest obstacle to people owning their own homes for years now.
    They spend £23. Billion on Housing Benefit, including huge numbers of single parents but not just with one Child but more and often 4 children, how did they get pregnant ? father’s free to roam.
    This is the rubbish society they have created, so do they think people are going to buy a property and be saddled with a Mortgage for 30 years when they have it all already for free, what loose their Benefit & Universal Credit & all the other goodies.
    Dream on your Policy makers are living in cloud cuckoo land.

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    Mr Michael Gove told Parliament that there’s a Problem with the Private Rented Sector.
    The Problem with the Private Rented Sector is him, he is the root cause of everything that’s wrong with it and he should go now before he does even more damage and ring and bring Sadiq Khan with him another free loader that wants to expansion ULEZ and rob people while providing no Service, too
    Many now want free money.
    The Blind leading the Blind.

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    I was a life long Tory voter, now I am in a position of being unable to place any faith in any current political party. The U.K. is ungovernable and requires some kind of ‘third political force to emerge’ if and when that happens my only hope is that they govern for the ‘majority’ not for ‘loud minority populists’ that have so distorted and damaged the political foundations of this nation.


    Sums up my feelings as well

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    The research is flawed its no use asking a LL if he ever used a section 21, it has to be a better question.
    So say for argument’s sake you ask a LL who is only 3 / 5 years in Business did he ever use a Section 21 and he says no,
    Then you are asking a LL who is 30 / 40 years in Business the say question and he says yes or no it’s not a comparison at all as he’s ten times longer in Business.
    This Selective Licensing is flawed and probably being used illegal, as the Article correctly states its Selective for specific problem areas as stated in the Act.
    Then comes along Mr Michael Gove the high & mighty after a Council had introduced Selective Licensing in 3 Areas as how it was meant to be only last July’22. He turned around and subsequently gave permission to make it Borough wide later same year with was introduced on the 3rd of January’23, so it’s not Selective at all when it’s Borough wide.
    What a stitch up making his own Rules and he’s above the Law.
    HMO C/tax on rooms is totally wrong making Renting unaffordable for Tenants as they have done with licensing Schemes while pretending to be their friends, some con-trick divide & conquer it looking a bit thin now.
    Council tax in London the minimum band is ‘A’ which if added to room as it does already in some cases puts another £100.00 approx pm on to Renting a room, so even a small HMO of 5 persons sharing a small Terraced House 3 up / 2 down that’s £500. pm = £6k pa c/tax or more than triple the current c/tax, so add this to the 12 changes Mr Gove is making that’ll be 13 yes fairer renting for Tenants he couldn’t hate them more ?.
    All costs are a burden on Rent Payments.

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    I refuse to buy any rental houses where the local council currently has a selective licence scheme.
    I'll either sell my current houses or pass on the costs to tenants if my local councils introduce them and make sure I tell the tenant why the rent is increasing, and up to now in being a landlord for over 20 years , I've never increased a tenants rent. (I know I'm going to get some negative reviews for this)

    Selective licencing is just another money grab from good landlords and maybe a few more votes for the government. And they wonder why rents keep going up and landlords keep selling houses. I guess that they will never care and that the government is the problem.

    Luckily I don't own any HMO's but I have respect for the people that run good ones and put up with all of the trouble, I couldn't do it.

    Once the government forces HMO owners to sell up they will find that there is no accommodation available for seasonal or contract workers and businesses are going to struggle to find people to fill jobs.

    I guess that they will find a way to pin that on landlords too.


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