9:00 AM, 5th August 2022, About A year ago 3
Rental reform should be the focus of any debate about property in the leadership race to find the next Prime Minister, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) says.
The AIIC’s chair, Daniel Evans, said: “The latest chaos to surround Westminster could overshadow and delay the introduction of rental reform, leaving the lettings sector in limbo yet again.
“There is even the chance that the reforms could be scrapped or watered down completely if the next PM and their new team are keen for a new direction and a fresh break from the past.”
He added: “What the industry craves is some sense of certainty, stability and future so it can plan accordingly.
“That looks unlikely for a while yet as the Conservatives set about choosing their new leader – and the next Prime Minister – over the summer.”
Mr Evans said the two contenders – former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and current Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is the favourite – are unlikely to make wholesale changes to the White Paper on the rental reform bill since it has broad cross-party and public support.
But the candidates could have slightly different views on how much of a priority it is.
He explains: “It should be beyond politics – driven forward regardless of who is Housing Secretary or Housing Minister at any given time – because these positions change too frequently.”
Mr Evans points to Michael Gove who was sacked as Housing Secretary after more than 50 ministers had resigned, the most high-profile of which was Sunak and former health secretary Sajid Javid.
He said: “As housing secretary since September 2021, Michael Gove played a pivotal role in the creation of the White Paper called A Fairer Private Rented Sector, which has certainly split opinion in the sector.
“The latest reshuffle in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is likely to make the journey to rental reform an even slower one.
“Only Eddie Hughes, the minister for rough sleeping and housing, has remained in post at the department – such a radical change is likely to have an impact on getting things through and getting things done.
“This will only be made worse by the ongoing Tory Party leadership battle and the summer recess which sees everything slow down anyway.”
Mr Evans said: “As the person with more Cabinet experience than any other in the Conservative Party, Gove may yet be in line for a return depending on who takes over as PM.
“Interestingly, he was the only one to be sacked and not resign. As he did not choose to walk away, there is the possibility that he could re-enter the department once a successor takes Johnson’s place.”
He added: “The new PM is also going to need time to bed in and get their top team sorted.
“This is likely, but not certain, to include further changes at DLUHC. Again, this won’t help with momentum and joined-up thinking.”
Mr Evans says there is also the possibility that a new person might see rental reform as a great way to stamp their mark on their premiership – and it could be the big policy initiative to kick them off in the role.
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