Property Law Changes To Expect After The General Election on July 4th

Gemma Nettle

By Gemma Nettle

02 July 2024

The General Election is set to shake up property in a big way. Party manifestos have made several promises to create, scrap, and alter various property laws. Knowing what's to come could mean the difference between being left behind by new reforms and keeping up with the latest bill changes. 

Fixflo spoke to David Smith, Head of Dispute Resolution at JMW Solicitors, about the upcoming election and what a Labour or Conservative win could mean. 

General election

 

Labour manifesto

Section 21 eviction notices

The Labour Party manifesto is becoming increasingly likely to take effect. Its main promises include immediately scrapping Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988—a legal notice for tenants to move out of a property after a fixed-term tenancy has ended or during a periodic tenancy with no fixed end date. 

Discover everything you need to know about Section 21 in our explainer guide. 

Find out more
Section 21_CTA

The current Conservative administration put together the Renters (Reform) Bill, which outlined the intention to eliminate Section 21 notices. However, this was halted in Parliament when the General Election was announced. David explained that Labour could push its own version of this through Parliament. It could also backdate this reform such that Section 21 notices from the past were no longer effective, but David said this would be "wildly abnormal". 

He said: "It would be almost impossible for the Labour Party to come in and say, 'No more Section 21s from today.' What they could do is pass an act of Parliament, obviously, and then it's a version of the Renters (Reform) Bill, which will get rid of Section 21." 

This leads to different possibilities, one of which includes introducing a mini bill that just gets rid of Section 21, then making more changes later on. Renters (Reform) Bill
There is a possibility Labour could take the Renters (Reform) Bill as it was, chop out the parts that don't fit with the party's aims, and quickly get the bill back into Parliament. 

During the third reading of the bill in April this year, an amendment by the Government was discussed. It required the Lord Chancellor to assess England's county court possession order process and enforcement. It was concluded that assessing court reforms was necessary to evaluate whether the system could handle the rise in Section 8 eviction notices following the abolition of Section 21. The danger would be to overburden the legal system, leading to delays for tenants and landlords. 

Labour would be expected to reject this amendment before the House of Commons rubber stamps the reforms.

 

Parliament summer recess

The Labour Party has also indicated that MPs won't get as long of a summer recess. A recess is a period of time when neither the House of Lords nor the House of Commons meets to conduct business. Summer recess usually takes place from July to September. 

David said that MPs need some element of the summer recess, even if they do not need all of it. He added: "MPs who have just been elected need to spend time in their constituencies listening to their constituents—that's their job. You can't be in Westminster all the time; it just won't work."

 

Section 8 eviction notices

Many of the potential changes within Section 8 relate to social housing and will need to be included. There was also a proposed amendment to the antisocial behaviour grounds for eviction, which David felt would likely not be pursued by a Labour government, leaving ASB evictions as they are. 

He also explained that Labour would be unlikely to retain grounds for possession where there are more than two months' arrears, three times in three years. However, this may not be a serious loss due to its complicated nature. 

With the possible abolition of Section 21 as part of expected upcoming rental reforms, knowing Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 inside and out has become even more imperative. Find out more with our helpful explainer guide. 

With the possible abolition of Section 21 as part of expected upcoming rental reforms, knowing Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 inside and out has become even more imperative. Find out more with our helpful explainer guide. 

Find out more
Section 8 CTA

"It will get more interesting with all the stuff about not having gas safeties or not having HMO licences," he said. "All you had to do was show your deposit was protected, and I don't know if the Labour Party will take a different view on those things. I think they'll be under some pressure to say you can't have repossession without a gas safety certificate. They'd have to be quite careful about that." 

David added: "You can't realistically deprive someone of their property for a technical reason for an extended period. If someone's in rent arrears, for example, you can't place landlords in the position where they can't get their house back at all, and you'd probably find that would be unlawful, so you have to be quite cautious. I don't think the Labour Party will want to put landlords in a position where their tenants can't pay rent. That's not something they have suggested they would do."

 

Awaab's Law

Following the death of Awaab Ishaak, legislation was introduced in July 2023 as part of the Social Housing (Regulation) Act. It dictates that landlords are required to fix damp and mould within strict time limits. A consultation was launched on Awaab's Law to determine how long a landlord should be given to deal with hazards, which closed on 5 March 2024. 

David stated that Labour is likely to put this through and into legislation rapidly. 

 

Conservative manifesto

The Conservative Party wants to continue its progress in pushing the Renters (Reform Bill) through Parliament. However, with Michael Gove being the latest Conservative MP to announce he will not stand for the General Election, David explained that it is unlikely the bill would move forward. 

He said: "I'll be surprised if a weakened Conservative Government would have an appetite for the Renters (Reform) Bill. I can't see it as being something they would be very likely to pursue in practice." 

David continued: “They would focus their energy on tweaks to the planning system and further talk about house-building. That said, I think the numbers for projected house-building are made up. The Conservatives have really struggled to build one million homes in this Parliament, and I do not see them increasing that to 1.6 million easily.” 

Current polling indicates that it is unlikely the Conservatives will win this election.

Want to hear more from David Smith?

Watch our webinar, Legal Updates for Letting Agents: What to expect ahead of the election. 

Watch our webinar here
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Gemma Nettle

When Gemma is not writing at work, her main hobby is writing at home. Entertainment is her bag, lapping up every new film and TV series with ferocity. She is always on the lookout for a new pastime, having experimented with dance, baking and bass guitar.

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Gemma Nettle

By Gemma Nettle

02 July 2024

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