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Published on : July 8, 2024 09:27

What do the General Election Results Mean for the UK Property Market?


It’s been a roller coaster ride for UK politics over the past few years, with no less than four Prime Ministers coming to power in the past two years. As the excitement of the July 2024 general election subsides, we ask what Labour’s landslide victory could mean for the housing market?

How did the General Election Impact the Property Sales?

Although some have pointed to a slow in the housing market in the run-up to the general election, analysis from Property Industry Eye shows that overall, the election had no real impact on property sales in the month before the polls opened. 

UK house prices on homes sold (subject to conditions) during June 2024 remained strong, with £348/sq.ft – 5.1% higher than Dec 2023. Total gross sales were 26,198 – 69% higher than 2017/18 and 2019. 

Year-to-date (YTD) sales were 6.4% higher than the 2024 weekly average and 10.2% higher than 2023 YTD levels. 

Net sales during the week of the election (Week 27) stood at 20,028 – 4.1% higher than the 2024 weekly average of 19,235. This was 20.8% higher than the same week in 2023. 

The number of sales increased slightly to one in four sales (23.5%), however within the context of increased property sales and an average ‘fall through rate’ between 2018 and 2023 of 30.5%, even this is relatively positive news and certainly not an indication of a stalling market. 

 A Labour Landslide – What Happens Next?

Labour’s resounding victory of over 400 seats, well in excess of the 326 seats needed to form a majority, marks a significant shift in the UK political landscape. 

Sir Kier Starmer said the UK was waking up this morning to “the sunlight of hope”, which was “shining once again on a country with the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back”.

What this will mean for the housing market remains to be seen, but the Labour Party has pledged to develop 1.5 million homes while prioritising development on brownfield land and what it calls ‘grey belt’ sites. 

Part of the party’s proposed strategy will centre around planning reform, with Rachel Reeves citing the current planning system as a barrier to growth prior to the election. 

“It is time to put an end to prevarication and political short-termism on this question. There is no other choice,” she outlined. “This Labour Party will put planning reform at the very centre of our economic and our political argument.”

Alongside these widespread reforms, homeowners, landlords and renters are more likely to notice the impact of changes to housing policy and rental reform over the coming months. 

Implications for Housing

Labour has pledged to reduce the stamp duty-free allowance from £425,000 to £250,000. Above the £250,000 threshold, the rate will be 5%, meaning every additional £10,000 will cost an extra £500 in stamp duty. 

The new government has an urgent need to raise taxes to support its agenda. This could mean further increases in taxation related to the housing market, including the potential introduction of capital gains tax on the sale of primary residences.

Rental Reforms – Section 21

Labour’s manifesto outlines several changes to rental rules, including the abolishment of Section 21 and a mission to ‘drive up standards’ within the private rental market. 

In November 2023, Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said that her party would scrap section 21 on its first day in office if it won the next general election. However, as the Renters Reform bill was dropped during the run up to the election, Labour will need to decide what type of legislation to bring forward to repeal Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act.

Any new Bill will need to pass through both the Commons and Lords before receiving Royal Assent and likely only come into force after a transitional period. 

Although Labour remains committed to the abolishment of Section 21, it is unknown how or whether the party will amend existing Section 8 Grounds for Possession for landlords. 

The Renters Reform Bill had included amendments to Section 8, such as a new mandatory ground for sale and revised grounds for landlords or close family members moving into a property.   

Driving Up Standards

Labour has also pledged to implement new rental controls, including a potential extension of  Awaab’s Law to private residential lets. The law was introduced after the death of Awaab Ishak as a result of a severe respiratory condition due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home environment.

Speaking to Channel 4 News in June 2024, Angela Rayner made clear the party’s commitment to extending the reach of Awaab’s law. “We see over a quarter of the private rental sector where the decent home standards are not being met. So by extending Awaab’s law to the private sector, it means that we will improve people’s health,” she explained. “Because we’ve seen far too many health hazards in the private rental sector, which is not fair on people who are paying high rents and are not getting habitable homes, which keep them healthy and safe.

“It’s a top priority,” she added. “There’s a lot of work that we need to do, but we’ll get motoring on it as quickly as we possibly can.”

Under current legislation, social housing landlords must: 

  • Investigate reported hazards within 14 days.
  • Provide a written report of the investigation within the 14-day timeframe.
  • Begin repairs within seven calendar days if the hazard could create a significant risk to the health or safety of the tenants.
  • Complete repair work within a ‘reasonable time period’ (as defined in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985). 
  • Carry out emergency repairs within 24 hours.
  • Provide a clear record of correspondence with residents and contractors.
  • Ensure that these new rules form part of a tenancy agreement so that tenants can hold landlords accountable to the law. 

While the exact timeframe for Labour’s extension of these rules to the private rental market is unknown, landlords will need to be aware of any changes to the law to avoid being caught out. 

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