In a reduced legislative programme, housing still made it into the Queen’s speech as follows:
- A draft Bill will be brought forward to ban letting agents charging fees to tenants. This will mean letting agents having to re-write their terms of business. For those advising tenants, there is the prospect of making claims where fees have wrongly been charged. For both sides, there will no doubt be arguments about anti-avoidance provisions which will need to be decided by the courts.
- An increase to housebuilding through implementing measures set out in the Housing White Paper such as freeing up more land for new homes and encouraging modern methods of construction.
- Promoting “fairness and transparency in the housing market”. The emphasis is on leaseholders including looking at the sale of leasehold houses and onerous ground rents.
Perhaps the most significant housing-related measure was to confirm that there will be a full public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire disaster. The government also made other commitments arising out of the tragedy, some repeating those already made, including:
- Payments to households whose home has been destroyed;
- Payment of the cost of temporary accommodation
- Rehousing at the earliest possible opportunity with the “aim” of doing this within 3 weeks of the disaster.
- A guarantee that people will be rehoused “as close as practically possible to where they previously lived”.
- Financial support for the local council from central government
- An audit of all high-rise buildings in England
- “Assessing the position” on Building Regulations.
- A new “strategy for resilience” in major disasters.
It could be that the recommendations that come out of the coming public inquiry prove to have the biggest impact on housing and housing standards in the years to come.