What property policies could make a difference in the first 100 days of a new government?

What property policies could make a difference in the first 100 days of a new government?
24th June 2024

The most obvious areas for positive change policy-wise are those that have already been raised as issues, but which the present government hasn’t managed to deliver.

There are five key policies that we would like to see the next government commit to and take action on in their first 100 days in power:

Increased support for planning at a local authority level

There has been a lot of talk in recent years from all the main parties about the need to significantly improve the planning process to support new homebuilding and development, particularly at a local level. Last summer, the Conservatives launched a consultation focusing on ‘operational reforms to the planning system’, which included:

  • Streamlining the consenting process, with a new fast-track route for certain projects
  • Incentivising developers to engage more proactively with local authorities to ensure major infrastructure projects deliver what’s needed for communities
  • Bolstering resources across the system and investing in the skills needed to support infrastructure delivery

And at last autumn’s political party conferences, Labour said that if it formed the next government, it would:

  • Give more power to local communities over how housing could be built in their area
  • Work with local authorities to ensure plans would be drawn up and agreed more quickly

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats proposed:

  • Encouraging more community engagement in the planning process and development of brownfield sites
  • Introducing a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ policy for developers who fail to develop land that’s been given planning permission

What we believe is urgently needed – and which we hope to see addressed by the next government - is a separation of planning and politics.

“The process from a Local Plan allocation to a digger on site typically stretches beyond the length four-year political term, and yet it is all too easily derailed, or substantially delayed, by short-term political thinking and parochial bias. Too many good plans were never allowed time to crystallise and were ultimately withdrawn before they had chance to come to fruition. Ideally, a national spatial plan is required to kick-start development and properly plan for development that this country needs.”

Ian Barnett, National Land Director at Leaders Romans Group (our parent company).

Delivering more homes – particularly affordable and social housing

Homelessness is a real and rising problem. Government figures show that in December 2023, there were more than 112,000 households in temporary accommodation in England – an increase of just over 12% in 12 months. And there is a critical shortage of social housing in particular, evidenced by the fact that there are almost 1.3 million households in England on local authority waiting lists.

As far as the delivery of new homes is concerned, between 2011 and 2022, the population of England increased by 4m, while there were just under 2.2m net additional dwellings delivered. In 2019, the Conservatives promised 300,000 new homes a year by 2025, however, according to the Construction Products Association, they are likely to fall short of that target by 40%.

Nevertheless, if the planning system can be overhauled, this should be reflected in an increase in the number of new homes. And last October, Labour promised that if it came to power it would deliver “the biggest boost to affordable housing in a generation” with “fast-track approval and delivery of high-density housing on urban brownfield sites.”


Amending the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024

While things have been improved significantly for leaseholders with the passing of both the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 and the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024, there is still the issue of ground rent for existing leaseholders. Despite promises to remove or cap the charge, the current government hasn’t managed to include this in either Act, meaning those who already own leasehold property are still at the mercy of freeholders when it comes to increases in ground rent. We hope and expect the next government to make this a priority.

Reintroducing the Renters (Reform) Bill

One significant reason why this Bill took so long to get as far as it did in Parliament was widespread concern about the consequences of abolishing section 21 and the knock-on effect it would have on a huge amount of other legislation.

While the Conservatives had confirmed that they would not move ahead with scrapping section 21 until the court system had been reformed as necessary, it is concerning that Labour:

  1. Attempted to force through an amendment to the Bill to scrap section 21 as soon as it passed (which was voted down)
  2. Stated last November, via Angela Raynor, that section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions would be banned, with no caveats, on its first day in power if it won the election

Nevertheless, we feel that the bulk of the proposals in the Bill were reasonable and positive changes for the rental market overall and we expect to see it resurrected by the next government. However, it is vital that the necessary time is taken to understand and account for the various effects of losing section 21.

“The failure of the much-anticipated Renters (Reform) Bill to pass into law is a significant setback for both landlords and tenants. While many of the Bill's provisions were contentious, we believed that continued dialogue and amendments would have addressed the concerns of all stakeholders, ultimately benefiting the rental market.”

Allison Thompson, National Lettings Managing Director of Leaders Romans Group (our sister company)

Clarification on raising the minimum EPC rating

This requires the next government to understand the challenges for landlords and take a realistic approach to energy efficiency policies for the PRS.

“Landlords are currently in a limbo when it comes to EPCs, with the requirement to achieve a grade C having been scrapped, for now. Making energy efficiency structural changes is a long-term process, which needs to be managed around rental voids, so landlords need a clearer timeframe for any future change. Consideration also needs to be given to whether the requirements are reasonable in the light of growing costs to landlords.”

Allison Thompson, National Lettings Managing Director of Leaders Romans Group (our sister company)


If you would like to discuss any aspect of how a change in government could affect the property market, just get in touch with your local branch and one of our team will be very happy to have a chat.


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