What are Labour's plans for the private rented sector?

28 May 2024

With a general election announced for 4 July 2024, what would the Labour party's plans for the private rented sector look like?

Updated: 23 May 2024

Since the unexpected announcement made by Prime Minster Rishi Sunak of a 4 July general election, now is the time for agents to be aware of what Labour’s plans are for the Private Rental Sector (PRS). 

BBC’s poll tracker shows that the Labour Party holds 45% of votes in opinion polls, as of 22 May, and has been consistently polling over 40% over the past 12 months.

The Conservative Party currently holds 23% of votes in the opinion polls, which is a 25% decrease from May 2023. 

While the Labour Party has yet to release their manifesto for the upcoming election, here is an overview of what a Labour government could mean for the UK’s private rental sector:

Abolishment of Section 21

In September 2022, Labour revealed its plans for rental reform through a renters' charter, which was then built on further in October 2023. Even with the upcoming General Election on 4 July most likely dissolving the Renters (Reform) Bill, Labour still remains steadfast in their commitment to abolish Section 21.

A central part of Labour's plans for the private rented sector is the commitment to abolish Section 21 eviction notices. Section 21 allows a landlord to evict a tenant without providing a specific reason - hence being dubbed "no fault" evictions.

When the Renters (Reform) Bill was debated in parliament during the bill’s second reading in October 2023, the Conservative party said that the courts needed to go through significant reform before Section 21 would be abolished, leaving timelines unclear.

In terms of Labour's timelines, Angela Rayner, deputy Leader of the Labour party and shadow housing secretary, recently stated that the party will scrap Section 21 on their first day in office.

The party also aims to “close loopholes that disreputable landlords might use to exploit tenants” following the abolition of Section 21.

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Driving up standards

As well as abolishing Section 21, Labour has signalled its commitment to a legally-binding Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector.

The Decent Homes Standard outlines the minimum standard for social housing in England and Northern Ireland. It was originally planned to be part of the Renters (Reform) Bill, and then delayed. The government has subsequently agreed to implement the Decent Homes Standard during the bill's committee stage debates in parliament in November 2023.

House building and new towns

Labour has made a manifesto commitment to “get Britain building again”, promising the construction of 1.5 million new homes within the first five years of a Labour Government through the reformation of planning laws and the building of new towns and the use of so-called ‘grey belt’ land.  

In Goodlord and Vouch's State of the Industry report, which surveyed more than 2,000 landlords, tenants, and letting agents, 58% of letting agents saw fewer homes available for tenants in 2023 - while 77% saw increased demand.

Are landlords really selling up? Read the report

Warm homes plan

The Labour government has committed to numerous green energy projects and initiatives, including upgrading every home to EPC standard C “within a decade”. It is not currently clear if the private rented sector will need to deliver this update earlier.

Under the Conservatives, the original plan for just the private rented sector was to have all properties reach EPC band C by 2035. Newly-rented properties were top of the priority, with an aim to EPC band C by 2025, followed by all tenancies in 2028. However, in September 2023, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced intentions to water down these targets.

Meanwhile, Labour aims to “cut energy bills for good”.

What else would be included in the Labour’s renters’ charter?

The charter is also expected to cover some new measures and variations on the existing proposals, including:

  • A plan to end "automatic evictions for rent arrears"
  • Introducing a four-month notice period for landlords
  • Including the right for renters to have pets as well as making "reasonable" alterations to a property
  • Schemes to make tenancy deposits "more portable" 

Want to know more?

This article is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. Visit gov.uk for more information. 

 

Further reading