Two UK areas to enjoy house price ‘upward growth’ as levelling up plans announced

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The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published its long-awaited White Paper revealing some major changes for landlords and the wider private rented sector. Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, promised that the Government’s flagship plans would deliver “Kings Cross-style transformational regeneration projects across the country” in order to “spread opportunity more evenly and help to reverse the geographical inequalities which still exist in the UK”.

The latest announcement reveals a radical shift of powers and money from Whitehall to local leaders and includes a landlord register, scrapping Section 21 evictions, a national ‘decent homes standards’ and tougher measures for rogue landlords.

The proposal also reveals that a £1.5 billion Levelling Up Home Building Fund will be launched.

This will provide loans to SMEs and Government support for 20 towns and city centres, starting off with Wolverhampton and Sheffield, undertaking ambitious, King’s Cross-style regeneration projects.

As expected, the property industry was quick to react to this announcement. 

CEO of Octane Capital, Jonathan Samuels, explained how this is “a positive step” for the property market.

“It goes without saying that anyone tackling the high cost of renting in the modern age should be provided with a home that is fit for purpose and so the introduction of the ‘Decent Home Standard’ is a positive step in this respect.

“The abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions’ is also another step forward where tenant protection is concerned. 

“However, many landlords will be understandably concerned that this could be utilised by professional nightmare tenants as a loophole to avoid eviction, which often comes at a considerable cost to the landlord themselves.”

He also explained how a tenant register should also be considered along with the proposed landlord register, so both tenant and landlord have peace of mind that their best interests are being looked after.

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Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, was unimpressed with the latest announcement.

He explained how these proposals will add “time” and “cost” constraints.

Marc said: “While they’ve certainly been framed with the best intentions, the latest Government announcement on levelling up the rental market will hardly help endear them to the nation’s landlords, who have already been subject to numerous financial penalties via legislative changes in recent years.

“Any landlord worth their salt will already be delivering a suitable property to market and the additional hoop of a ‘Decent Homes Standard’ will add further time and cost constraints that simply aren’t needed. 

“We also saw how rogue tenants utilised Government changes to tenant evictions during the pandemic and so we can expect more of the same now but on a permanent basis.”

Managing Director of Sirius Property Finance, Nicholas Christofi, was more hopeful of the new housing plans.

He said: “It’s great to see the Government’s intent to support SMEs by making them the focus of their levelling up plans.

“The agile and adaptable nature of these smaller house builders should pay dividends when it comes to improving the prosperity of our nation. 

“That said, there’s no ‘new money’ in today’s loan announcement of £1.5 billion and so let’s hope that the Government continues to provide support to SME house builders on an ongoing basis, not just via a few initial, headline grabbing gestures.”

Managing Director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, commented on where the best to see property investment.

He said: “We’ve enjoyed a house price boom of late but for those with an eye on a longer-term return, the likes of Wolverhampton and Sheffield are a safe bet. 

“Any significant level of regeneration is only going to help boost the local economy, which in turn will rejuvenate the local housing market. 

“So we can expect to see upward growth both where house prices and rental market values are concerned across the areas to have been earmarked for ‘levelling up’.”

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