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Posted on May 27th 2015 by admin-movingin

Housing market set to feature strongly in Queen’s Speech

Housing is due to feature prominently in today’s Queen’s Speech – with the industry holding its breath to see if mandatory licensing of the private rented sector will be introduced as expected, and if so, what detail is given either in the speech itself or the subsequent small print.

Today’s announcements are set to include a Housing Bill which will extend Right to Buy to social housing tenants, plus measures to crack down on illegal immigration which could have profound implications for the private rented sector.

The measures are likely to include mandatory licensing of private landlords, plus the nationwide roll-out of the Right to Rent scheme – the duty of landlords or their agents to check the immigration status of tenants.

Last week, David Cameron also announced that there would be a change in eviction rules, allowing the speedy eviction of illegal immigrants.

Landlord organisations are urgently requesting clarification of these announcements.

Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association, said: “Landlords are happy to help to check that tenants are who they claim to be. However, this should not be a way for the Government to pass the buck on to landlords when tackling illegal immigration.

“We also had several questions regarding the scheme at the outset which still have not been answered. We hope, before the scheme is rolled out nationally, that the Government take the time to review how the first phase in the west midlands has worked and draws on the lessons from that, rather than ploughing ahead regardless.

“The introduction of a new mandatory licensing regime brings up some concern. We are therefore urgently seeking clarification on whether this would be new policy or related to the current licensing schemes.”

Also expressing concern was Lisa Simon, national head of lettings at Carter Jonas. She criticised the decision to roll out Right to Rent before the results of the west midlands pilot were known, with a third survey still open for responses until May 31.

She said: “It’s important that landlords and lettings agents respond to the final survey, but even more important that the Government publishes the results to facilitate full discussion both within the lettings industry and also between the industry and the Government.

“As the head of a national lettings agency, I am concerned to see how the immigration check system has worked and what it has cost, especially in the current climate where lettings agents are already under scrutiny for charging tenant fees for our services.

“These checks apply to every potential tenant and add yet another layer of red tape at a time when it is supposed to be diminishing.

“I also have concerns, if the Government presses ahead with plans to allow tenants to sub-let which were a surprise announcement in the March Budget Red Book, that landlords and lettings agents might still be held responsible for those occupying a property even where they have not been involved in arranging the tenancy.

“Lettings agents and landlords need to be vigilant to ensure nothing slips past them unchallenged.”

The Housing Bill will also confirm plans to deliver 200,000 new starter homes which will be sold at a 20% discount to first-time buyers under 40.

A new register of brownfield land will help fast-track delivery of these new homes.

The Bill will also create a Right to Build, giving local people the right to be allocated land with planning permission.

They would be able to use this land to self-build, either using their own labour or the services of a local builder.