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When is the next UK general election? A guide for landlords

4-minute read

Entrance to UK polling station
Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling

16 November 2023

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With approximately three million landlords and private renting accounting for around a fifth of all households in the UK, those in the rental market provide a valuable voter base for politicians.

That’s why plans for the rental market are likely to be prominent in manifestos and campaigning ahead of the next general election.

The rental market has faced uncertainty in recent years, as tenants and landlords wait for widespread rental reforms to be introduced.

And as average rent prices continue to grow alongside an increasing demand for homes, private renting will remain an important part of the housing market.

With this in mind, we take a closer look at the biggest rental market issues, plus what the biggest two parties have said so far.

When will the next general election be?

The next election must take place before the end of January 2025 at the latest. This is because the last general election, won by the Conservative Party, was in December 2019.

An election could be called at any time by the prime minister. A date for the country to go to the polls is yet to be set. However, early reports have suggested that Rishi Sunak is working towards an election date of 31 October 2024.

What are the key issues for the rental market?

As the general election approaches, landlords will be eager to hear what the main parties are planning to do about a range of issues. These include:

  • rising costs – higher mortgage costs and significant tax changes have reduced returns for many landlords
  • rental reforms – the date for when these major changes are introduced is yet to be set, and a recent U-turn on Section 21 evictions has made things more complex
  • rental housing supply – an imbalance of rental supply and demand has led to unsustainable rent rises for tenants in some parts of the country
  • energy efficiency – plans to increase minimum energy efficiency standards in rental properties have been scrapped for now, but landlords remain unclear about what could happen next

How do landlords feel about the future?

As part of our Landlord Report, we asked 1,500 landlords about their biggest concerns and their plans for the future.

Ahead of the election, 66 per cent said constantly changing and confusing government legislation is one of their greatest challenges.

Participating landlords also called out several challenges that relate to the government, including:

  • a lower capital gains tax allowance (38 per cent)
  • the reduction of buy-to-let mortgage interest tax relief (36 per cent)
  • rising taxes such as income tax and corporation tax (35 per cent)

On top of this, 20 per cent said the Renters’ Reform Bill is the single biggest threat to the rental market.

These challenges appear to be having an impact, with 25 per cent of landlords saying they’re planning to sell a property in the next 12 months. However many plan to sit tight, with 50 per cent saying they think buy-to-let remains a good investment.

Rental reforms – how could they be affected by an election?

Earlier this year, the government published draft legislation for the Renters’ Reform Bill. Described as the biggest change to tenancy law in a generation, the bill includes measures to abolish Section 21 evictions and end fixed-term tenancies.

The bill is making its way through parliament and is currently at the committee stage. Before it can receive royal assent and become law, the bill still needs to pass a report stage, third reading, and pass through the House of Lords.

By the time of the general election, it could still be unclear when the majority rental reforms might be introduced. This is particularly the case after the recent news that the government won’t abolish Section 21 until the court system is reformed.

However, the bill has cross-party support so the measures are likely to become law at some point no matter the result of the election.

What could a Conservative government mean for the rental market?

The idea for a ‘better deal’ for renters was first introduced as part of the Conservative manifesto ahead of the 2019 general election.

So if the party wins the next election, a key priority for the Conservatives will be to finish its work on rental reforms.

As well as reforming the courts to allow for Section 21 evictions to be scrapped, this will include:

  • making it easier for tenants to request to keep pets
  • introducing the decent homes standard for private rentals
  • launching a private rental sector database
  • making it illegal for landlords to have blanket bans on renting to families or people receiving benefits

At the moment, the Conservatives’ plans around improving energy efficiency of rental homes is unclear. It’s also unlikely that the party would consider things like compulsory licensing or rent controls.

Our Autumn Statement predictions article gives an indication of the Conservatives’ current approach towards landlords and the rental market.

What could a Labour government mean for the rental market?

If the Labour Party were to win the general election, it’s likely that they’d continue with the majority of rental reforms currently going through parliament.

Shadow Housing Minister Angela Rayner recently criticised the Conservatives for pledging to reform the courts system before abolishing Section 21 evictions. She said that the delay “kicks it into the long grass” and “comes at a heavy price for renters".

This suggests that the Labour Party could be willing to push through the removal of Section 21 without making any changes to the courts.

On top of this, a Labour government could reintroduce higher energy efficiency standards for rental properties. Shadow Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband has already hinted that he’s in favour of increasing the minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating to C or above.

Other things that that the Labour Party could consider for the rental market include:

  • compulsory licensing in the form of a landlord register
  • rent controls in the largest cities
  • increased funding for social housing

It’s important to note that the date for the election is yet to be set and no manifestos have been released. This article is based on the messaging we've seen so far and existing policies from the current government.

Keep an eye on our Knowledge centre for all the latest developments as we get closer to a general election.

What are your hopes and concerns for the general election as a buy-to-let landlord? Let us know in the comments below.

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Conor Shilling

Written by

Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a professional writer with over 10 years’ experience across the property, small business, and insurance sectors. A trained journalist, Conor’s previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor has worked at Simply Business as a Copywriter for three years, specialising in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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