The housing minister, Robert Jenrick, has announced a series of new UK housing bills that will soon be introduced to the Commons.
Building Safety Bill
Improvements to building safety will be driven by a new Building Safety Regulator under the Health and Safety Executive. The measures will oversee the design, construction and occupation of buildings and ensure the industry responds more quickly to safety standards.
The government will work with local authorities to support enforcement when building owners fail in their responsibility for building safety.
Monthly data released at the end of February revealed that 313 high-rise buildings with Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding (similar to Grenfell Tower) that were unlikely to meet Building Regulations were yet to be remediated.
The report says 85 of the high-rises were social sector residential buildings, 75 of which had started remediation work. However, only 39 of the 181 private sector residential buildings had so far commenced work.
The many homeowners stuck in limbo, unable to sell while they wait for cladding to be removed, will not yet be rejoicing. Nor will those in the many homes covered in high-pressure laminate (HPL) cladding. HPL is known to be combustible but the extent of its use has not yet been fully surveyed or identified for remedial works.
Renters Reform Bill
The bill will abolish section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (on ‘no fault’ evictions) to improve the security of tenants in the rental sector. A revised section 8 (on grounds for eviction) will strengthen the rights of landlords to repossess their property through the courts.
The reforms are hoped to encourage good landlords and make better quality property available to renters. However, the consultation showed clear divides between tenants’ organisations and landlords’ associations, who warned that the wrong reforms could result in more landlords leaving the sector thus reducing the amount of rental property available to those without access to social housing.
To remove some of the barriers faced by tenants of rental homes, this bill will introduce a new ‘lifetime deposit’ that will help tenants move home more easily. Better protection of tenant deposits that will benefit both landlord and tenant will be included in the bill.
Social Housing White Paper
Mr Jenrick said that people living in social housing would receive the ‘dignity and respect they deserve’. The reforms will allow social tenants better redress and regulation that will improve the quality of social housing.
While not giving any details, Mr Jenrick said the government would continue to work hard to end rough sleeping, which it has committed to ending by the end of this parliament.
Planning White Paper
Consultations will now take place on a Planning White Paper for spring 2020, that will bring changes to the current planning system. The new planning reforms to speed up the planning process and make the system ‘truly fit for the 21st century’.
Improvements would focus on providing the number of new homes needed across the country but, in particular, local homes for local people in the place they were brought up. These homes would be more attractive and in greener and safer communities, and available for people who were priced out of their local area.
New Homes Bonus to be reformed
Local authorities will be encouraged to take a more proactive approach to housing building countrywide, and an additional £10.9 billion in funding would become available.
A reformed New Homes Bonus would encourage homes to be built where they were needed by further incentivising local authorities.
Mr Jenrick said that home ownership continued to ‘seems like a dream’ for first time home buyers, who were unable to save for a deposit to buy a house in their home town while being trapped in high rent property.
Calling for immediate action, he said the solution was to build more housing.
If you’re in the position of buying a new property, ask a Chartered Surveyor for a building survey.