Just over two weeks on from the Queen’s Speech and UK landlords are slowly becoming more aware of David Cameron’s intentions for the private rented sector.

The most significant development announced was the national roll out of the Right to Rent scheme that will require landlords to police the immigration status of tenants. While a trial has already been in force across the West Midlands, anecdotal evidence suggests that this hasn’t gone particularly well, which is why the announcement came as a surprise to many.

It would mean that landlords would be legally obliged to check the immigration status of new tenants, but that they would also have more power to evict those living in the country illegally.

Housing also featured prominently in the Queen’s Speech – the Housing Bill intends to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants and increase the number of houses built (especially for first-time-buyers). This could have a short-term impact on landlords who currently let to those wanting to buy their first home but nonetheless, tackling the housing shortage is a positive move.

The proposed removal of housing benefits for 18-21 year olds could also affect some landlords who let properties to that target market. They may be required to change their strategy or adapt their properties to appeal to a different type of tenant.

In a shock announcement that was left out of the Queen’s Speech, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has said that it is going to start consultation on what types of properties or Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) will require a mandatory licence.

Currently HMOs of three storeys with five or more people living in two or more households require a licence and changing this definition would mean more HMOs across the country would fall under the regulations. However, local authorities already have substantial powers relating to licensing and yet hundreds of landlords continue to operate illegally and offer an appalling standard of accommodation across the UK.

Any change in the definition of what needs a licence would need to be accompanied by an increase in resource to local authorities to police this change.

On a separate note, there has been a positive development with regards to local authorities enforcing minimum room sizes in HMOs following a recent appeal involving Manchester City Council.

Manchester City Council had enforced minimum room sizes above those stipulated in the Housing Act (a minimum of 6.5sm for a single and 10.2sm for a double), which they have the power to do if they have consulted correctly. However, Manchester failed to take into context the rest of the property and offer any flexibility, which is a key element of the decision making process. The appeal therefore found that this was unlawful and the minimum standards that landlords now have to adhere to are those stipulated in the Housing Act. Landlords can use this appeal decision to make a case with their own local authorities who may have imposed bigger minimum room sizes.

The changes announced show housing still features prominently in the Government’s agenda, and that availability of good quality homes, whether to buy or rent, continues to be politically charged.

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