UK Snap Election Puts Major Housing Reforms in Jeopardy

The UK property market faces a period of uncertainty as the Renters (Reform) Bill and the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill are likely to be shelved due to the unexpected announcement of a general election by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. With Parliament closing for the election campaign, there appears to be insufficient time to secure these significant legislative changes.

Legislative Limbo
The timing of the election means that both the Renters (Reform) Bill and the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill, which had progressed through the House of Commons and were under consideration in the Lords, now face being dropped. This development could potentially derail the most comprehensive reforms to the UK’s rental and property sectors in decades. The ‘wash-up’ period—a brief window before Parliament is dissolved—offers a last chance to pass some bills, but the fate of these particular pieces of legislation remains highly uncertain.

Political Responses and Implications
The Labour Party has indicated that the abolition of Section 21 evictions, a key aspect of the Renters (Reform) Bill, would be a priority should they come to power. Deputy Leader Angela Rayner mentioned last year that they would ban ‘no fault’ evictions on their first day in office. However, the broader implications of the election on these reforms are unclear, with Dr Ruth Fox of the Hansard Society noting, “It depends on what the Opposition allows to go onto the statute book. The Government has to accept it loses the whole bill, or at least some of the controversial elements taken out.”

Industry Reaction
The potential dropping of these bills has prompted reactions from various stakeholders within the housing industry. The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) expressed disappointment, highlighting the prolonged uncertainty and its negative impact on the market. Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of NRLA, stated, “If true, it is hugely disappointing that this Bill will not now make it into law… There has been too much dither and delay in government, and a failure to be clear about how to ensure changes would work in practice.”

Allison Thompson, National Lettings Managing Director at Leaders Romans Group, echoed these sentiments, emphasising the setback for tenants and landlords alike. She urged the next government to prioritise comprehensive housing policies that address the ongoing housing crisis and provide stability.

As the UK prepares for an election, the property sector remains in a state of flux, with significant reforms hanging in the balance. The outcome of the election could decisively influence the future trajectory of housing policies and the landscape of the UK property market.