Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle could spell changes for landlords, as a new housing minister is appointed.
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The new minister was announced on Monday after Dominic Raab gave up the role to become the Brexit secretary.
Who is Kit Malthouse?
Kit Malthouse has been an MP since 2015, representing North West Hampshire. Prior to becoming housing minister, Mr Malthouse was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance – a position in the Department for Work and Pensions.
Upon taking up the post, Malthouse said: “I am delighted to be appointed as Minister of State for Housing and Planning. Building the homes this country needs is a top priority for this Government. I am keen to build on the real progress that has been made and start working with the sector so we can deliver more homes, restore the dream of home ownership and build a housing market fit for the future.
“I’m also committed to continuing the important work of supporting those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy and ensuring people are safe, and feel safe in their homes.”
Housing minister to stay incumbent for three years?
Calls have been made for the housing minister to stay in his role for a minimum three-year term. The move would allow the minister to get to grips with the brief and make some carefully thought-through decisions that affect all aspects of the housing market, including buy-to-let.
Mr Malthouse is the eighth housing minister in as many years, meaning that there has now been a total of 17 housing ministers in the last 21 years.
This has prompted accusations that the Government is not taking the issue of Britain’s housing crisis seriously, with Iain McKenzie, chief executive of the Guild of Property saying: “Now that Dominic Raab has been promoted, we are set to get our eighth housing minister in eight years. This is completely unacceptable.
“The Government accepts that we are in a housing crisis with a shortage of good-quality homes, and yet they are showing time and time again that housing is not a priority.”
Changing policies on buy-to-let
Several important decisions affecting landlords have been made in recent years, including a 3 per cent surcharge on stamp duty for those buying investment properties and the reduction of tax relief on mortgage interest.
More changes are expected with current ideas being discussed including the banning of Section 21 notices, which allow the eviction of tenants without a reason.
However, with no minister staying in the role for any significant amount of time, it is hard for landlords to predict how their property investments will be affected - and consequently, to know how they should manage their property portfolios.
Consistency is key, say experts
One proposed solution is to impose a minimum three-year term on the post of housing minister so that consistent policies can be formed.
David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said: “We welcome Kit Malthouse as the new housing minister. We hope that he is able to bring some continuity to this post as we are now on the fourth housing minister in little over 12 months, and if the Government really wants to fix the broken housing market, consistency is important.
“There have been a large number of consultations over the last few years, all of which now require policy to be put into place; it’s not entirely clear how this can happen if a new minister is reshuffled as soon as they are in post long enough to understand their brief.
“This is a situation in which we would probably welcome a three-year minimum term although given our experience so far that would be wishful thinking.”
It remains to be seen how Kit Malthouse will perform in the position, and what changes he may bring in for landlords across the country.