On May 10 2022, the Queen’s Speech was delivered to Parliament, by the Prince of Wales. The speech outlined the government’s priorities and listed the bills it plans to bring before MPs and peers for the coming year.
B P Collins’ property team provides an overview of key Bills that will impact the property sector.
Levelling up and Regeneration Bill
The speech highlighted the government’s intention to ‘level up’ the UK through the regeneration of towns and cities. Its aim is to halve the number of non-decent homes (e.g. not in a reasonable state of repair, lacking reasonably modern facilities and/or not providing a reasonable degree of thermal comfort) by 2030. This will be facilitated by the introduction of the Social Housing Bill, which aims to ensure better quality and safer homes for tenants. Around one million (21%) of privately rented homes do not meet the Decent Homes Standard.
Through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, the government aims to give residents more involvement in the development of their local areas by reforming the planning system and giving more weight to the environmental assessment. Consideration will also be given to the UK Infrastructure Bill to ensure that investment is spread across the country and not just focused on already developed areas.
The empty high street
This bill and legislation will look to give local authorities powers to force rental auctions on shops that have been empty for over a year, in an attempt to regenerate and rejuvenate the high street. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes that this introduction will put buildings to good use and create more opportunities for new businesses.
UK Infrastructure Bank Bill
The government will introduce this legislation with the objective of supporting economic growth and the delivery of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The purpose is to boost infrastructure investment across the UK but particularly in under-invested areas and draw private finance into these areas. It is intended that the Bank will partner with the private sector to secure at least £18 billion of additional investment in infrastructure.
It is hoped that an increase in infrastructure in under-invested areas, will assist to close the gap in economic disparities too, with research showing there is a direct link between the two.
Non-domestic Rating Bill
Implementing the Non-domestic Rating Bill aims to provide businesses with more certainty that the business rates they are paying are correct. Support will be provided to businesses to increase productivity and energy efficiency by making improvements to their workplace and incentives will be provided by way of reliefs in circumstances where businesses invest in their properties and reduce their carbon footprint.
The Bill will shorten the business rates revaluation cycle from five years to three years from 2023, introduce new 12-month rates relief on increases to rateable value arising from improvements made to a property and introduce a new 100% rates relief for low-carbon heat networks that are assessed as separate entities for business rates. This is part of a £750 million package to support investment, which includes exemptions for green plant and machinery like solar panels and 100 per cent relief for low-carbon heat networks.
Renters Reform Bill
The manifesto comments for the Renters Reform Bill are:
- To abolish s21 evictions
- Strengthen the landlords’ rights of possession
- Deliver on the mission to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030
- Create a fairer and more effective rental market for both landlord and tenants
The hope is that by strengthening landlords’ rights of possession through introducing new and stronger grounds for repeated incidences of rent arrears will encourage landlords to remain and invest in the rental market. Notice periods for anti-social behaviour are also due to be reduced to reach the same aim.
A new Ombudsman that deals with private landlords also features in the new bill to help reduce the costs and amount of time associated with landlord and tenant disputes.
The government wants more people to own their own homes and is tasked with continuing to improve the fairness and transparency of the leasehold market. Whilst the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 comes into force at the end of June, other commitments are making it cheaper and easier for leaseholders to extend their leases or buy their freehold, ensuring that leaseholders are not subject to any unjustified legal costs and banning new leasehold houses so that all new houses are freehold from the outset, instead delivering a reformed commonhold system as an alternative.
It is evident from the speech as a whole, that the government is keen on developing the property sector (both residential and commercial property) and aims for it to be the driving force behind growing the economy and assisting in combatting the cost-of-living crisis.