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Queen's Speech – the implications for housing Matthew Warburton - 09/05/2013

queen_300Wednesday's Queen's Speech contained no Housing Bill, but there are important provisions affecting housing contained elsewhere in the Government's planned legislative programme.

 

As part of the Coalition's reforms to bring in fixed term Parliaments, the Queen's Speech, traditionally given in November, was moved to May, making this the penultimate Speech and legislative session of the current Parliament.

A Mortgage/Help to Buy Bill will underpin the mortgage guarantee element of the Government's Help to Buy scheme, announced in the Budget. Two other Bills with big implications for housing are the Immigration Bill and the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. The Immigration Bill will introduce a requirement for private landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants.

The Government intends to extend the same requirement to councils through secondary legislation. More worryingly, it is apparently the Government's intention to impose a requirement on councils to restrict access to housing to applicants with five years local residence. Many councils already have such conditions in their waiting list policies, but the decision has always been a matter for local choice.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Bill aims to simplify and streamline procedures for tackling anti-social behaviour, reducing the number of potential interventions from 19 to 6, which should in principle help councils and other social landlords to tackle problems more quickly and effectively.

Tucked away in the new Deregulation Bill is the commitment to reduce the qualifying period for Right to Buy from five years to three, also announced in the Budget. One commitment that appears to have fallen off the agenda is the legal underpinning for the Pay to Stay scheme.

The Government announced earlier in the year that it plans to go ahead with this and recognised that legislation is needed to enable landlords to collect information on tenants' incomes. It looks as though this will have to wait until next year - although it has not been unknown for governments to introduce legislation not foreshadowed in a Queen's Speech.

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