Will the government’s new ‘dynamic duo’ make any difference to the rental industry?

PUBLISHED: 10:12 24 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:12 24 January 2018

Sajid Javid was made Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in the January reshuffle

Sajid Javid was made Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in the January reshuffle

With the recent reshuffle in the government concerning housing, how could this affect the rental industry? Mike White, from Martin & Co, discusses.

Mike White, Martin & Co rental agentsMike White, Martin & Co rental agents

How many of these names do you recognise and do you know what they all have in common? Keith Hill, Jeff Rooker, Charlie Falconer, Nick Raynsford

Hilary Armstrong, Alok Sharma, Caroline Flint, Yvette Cooper, Kris Hopkins...I could go on.

If I added Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid to the list, would it become any clearer? You’ll probably be able to work out they’re all politicians who are, or have been, involved with housing. Well, they’ve all been housing ministers in successive governments and Messrs Raab and Javid still are. The latter having just had housing added to his portfolio as secretary of state for housing, communities and local government while the former has been switched from the ministry of justice to become housing minister in the prime minister’s re-shuffle last week.

So here we have it, 17 ministers in the last 20 years. The question is will this dynamic duo make any real difference? Given the ever-deepening housing crisis, their predecessors were hardly ‘the Incredibles’, were they?

But, and an important but, housing has finally after all this time been recognised as being important enough to be a cabinet position. The last bloke was not a cabinet minister so did not get a seat at the table (and, in any event was wholly anonymous in the six months he held the office). We can only hope the new Batman and Robin of housing get to grips with the enormity of their task PDQ. Sajid Javid does have something of a head start, you may recall he is the architect of the government’s Tenant Fee Ban Bill which is currently trundling its way through various select committees, so you’d hope he has a decent understanding of the issues involved in the ever-growing private rented sector. The prime minister has made it clear that she wants to raise housing up the political agenda and be seen to be doing something about the ongoing supply crisis. The fear within the lettings industry is this will simply be achieved by furthering the government’s current fixation on building new houses.

So, what is this likely to mean for landlords and property investors in this part of the world?

1. A combination of the tenant fee ban and the mortgage tax relief changes will force a sizeable number of landlords into selling their investment properties

2. This will further impact a continuing difficult sales market and house prices will flatten or even dip

3. Supply of quality rental stock will reduce, demand will remain strong, ergo rents will increase

4. None of; Brexit, North Korea, President Trump, Jeremy Corbyn or the Winner of Masterchef will impact in the slightest, on the fundamental need for 99.9% of the entire population to put a roof over their heads.

For many landlords and would be landlords 2018 is going to be the year of opportunity and despite some bumps along the road, if you’ve bought well and kept your borrowing at sensible levels, you’ll do more than OK. For many letting (and estate) agents, life will be tough and we may see a few either fall by the wayside or be acquired by stronger players looking to consolidate their positions.

At Martin & Co in Norwich we are looking forward to the challenge ahead, we feel our business is likely to grow from both so make the move to agents who focus on delivering value rather than the cheap prices of their old agents.

You can contact Mike White at Martin & Co in Norwich, sponsors of this column, on 01603 766860. www.martinco.com/estate-agents-and-letting-agents/branch/norwich

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