New legislation is set to transfer the attention of housing associations to the quality and safety of existing housing stock. This will likely cause pressure, but it is essential that property managers, letting agents and landlords prepare for this.
After all, those that suffer most are always the ones most resistant to change, while those who prepare are far more likely to thrive.
After the Grenfell Tower fire disaster of 2017, there was an almost unanimous agreement within the property sector that there must be a turning point in the rental industry.
While progress since the fire has been more sluggish than some hoped, there are now big changes which will be coming to fruition. These take the form of two items of legislation, which are the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act and a currently unnamed bill which will see the review from Dame Judith Hackitt become law.
This bill has now received a timetable, and will now be the focus of a consultation at the end of May 2019. There will also be a draft bill published in the winter of 2019, and it is expected to be put into force by 2021.
Over the last ten years, the government has ruled that social landlords must cut costs on routine spending, and instead heavily invest in development. Now, the tide is turning again.
Businesses are now required to become more focused on the safety and quality of their existing properties. There will also be legal penalties for any failure in this, such as costly compensation for any tenants who endure poor quality homes. Homes fit for human habitation training can help you learn more about the new legislation and avoid expensive fines.
Combined with the risk to a landlord’s reputation, as seen in the media and television programmes recently, and a possible bolstering of consumer powers to regulators, the quality of social landlord’s existing homes will top their list of priorities in the next ten years. This will lead to different spending decisions. However, there will be no grants or funding to pay for any changes to existing rental properties, and it is predicted that the demands to increase new developments will only grow.
It is crucial that landlords prepare, and there is still time to get ready for regulation changes.
The wide support from campaigns in response to the cladding scandal surrounding the Grenfell disaster has gone from strength to strength. The range of support demonstrates the need for justice and resolution for the victims of the fire, in addition to avoiding a similar event taking place again.
However, no party wants to see leaseholders financially crippled in the effort to make rental properties safer. On the other hand, billing the taxpayer is not an ideal solution, but the sheer urgency of the matter is so critical that there are no other options.
Ministers have previously been criticised for the lack of pace and progress in cladding removal work and improvements to existing properties. The Labour MP whose constituency in London houses many affected towers, Rushanara Ali, has highlighted that the government was able to find £420m to mend potholes, a sum which could have helped those living in dangerous buildings.