Washed-up? Property law reform post-parliamentary dissolution

21 June 2024

Following the Prime Minister’s surprise announcement on 22 May 2024 that we will be heading into a General Election on 4 July 2024, Parliament was dissolved on 24 May 2024. In this article, we consider the status of planned property reforms following the dissolution of Parliament 2024.

Property law reform has been a real legislative focus for the last Government under Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The past couple of years has seen the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022, the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 and the Building Safety Act 2022 all being passed. This focus was particularly highlighted by the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024 being prioritised and passed into law as part of the accelerated legislative “wash up” process on the last day before Parliament was dissolved.

Although property has not been a key election “issue” in the press to date, delivering housing is central to the main parties’ manifestos and election campaigns, so property law reforms are likely to continue under the next government, regardless of the outcome of the General Election. 

Below we set out the status of the property reform Bills that were going through Parliament at the point of dissolution. We discuss these, together with the key manifesto pledges on housing and planning reform, in our recent Policy in Practice podcast.

Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024

The Act abolishes the creation of new leases for almost all houses and at the same time seeks to align methods of charging and recourse for estate service charges on freehold and mixed-use estates with existing obligations and rights governing leasehold service charges. Before this, freehold owners have not had equivalent routes to challenge unfair charges.

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024 was passed on the last day before Parliament was dissolved prior to the General Election. This shows, perhaps, the importance of property reform across the political spectrum. We have discussed a key element of the Act (as it was then a draft Bill) in a previous article

Certain parts of the Act will need to be brought forward under secondary legislation, for example the regime for redress for homeowners who have been mis-sold a residential lease of a house. 

Renters (Reform) Bill

The overriding aim of this Bill was to improve the position of renters in the private rental market. The Bill would have ended section 21 no fault evictions, created new grounds on which landlords could end leases and started a new landlord registration scheme. This Bill would have also changed the current system of residential assured shorthold tenancies with a revised tenure arrangement which would operate on a monthly rolling basis.

Purpose-built student accommodation would be specifically exempt from such reforms; however, the changes would be likely to impact private student housing and other short-term residential arrangements (albeit to a lesser extent following the announcement that a further ground of possession based around the academic year is to be included in the draft Bill).  You can read more about our thoughts on this Bill and its possible impacts on the PRS student sector and purpose built student accommodation.

The Renters (Reform) Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords on 15 May 2024 and was due to progress to the Committee stage. As such, the Bill was well progressed prior to dissolution of Parliament. However, it was not included in “wash up”.

The Conservative manifesto expressly states that this Bill would be taken forward, but it is not included expressly in any other party manifesto. The Labour manifesto does state that section 21 evictions would be ended immediately, providing an indication that the key parts of this Bill may come forward under a Labour government. 

Ground rent consultation

In 2023, the Government consulted on limiting ground rents in existing leases. This follows the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 which restricted the ground rent in new residential long leases at a peppercorn. Concrete proposals following this consultation did not make it in to the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024, after much discussion. 

The Conservative manifesto has committed to capping ground rents at £250, with a view to reducing this cap to a peppercorn over time. The Labour manifesto is silent on this point, but the party has shown support for reform to existing long leases. For example, Matthew Pennycook, the shadow housing minister, has previously commented that Labour “is clear that the Government must act to protect leaseholders from ground rent exploitation, and…they should be courageous in determining which of the consultation proposals should be enacted.”

High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill

This Bill would impose requirements on local authorities in England to designate streets as high streets and then publish an improvement plan, to be reviewed every five years, to try to overcome the issues facing high streets and town centres as a result of declines in the traditional bricks and mortar retail industry. 

This Bill was introduced as a Private Members’ Bill and supported by the Government. It subsequently passed through the House of Commons unamended, a second reading in the House of Lords took place on 17 May 2024 and it was committed to a Committee of the Whole House.  Although the Bill had received some cross-party support, it remains to be seen whether and/or in what form a future government would look to take this forward. 


Other Bills which have fallen by the wayside in anticipation of the General Election are the following:

  1. The Green Belt Protection Bill which sought to establish a national register of Green belt land in England, restrict the ability of local authorities to de-designate Green belt land and to make provisions about future development of de-designated Green belt land. This Bill had not yet reached its second reading in the House of Commons. 
  2. The Housing Act 1988 (Amendment) Bill which sought to amend the Housing Act 1988 so that long leases of residential dwellings are not deemed to be assured tenancies for the purposes of the Housing Act 1988. The Bill was a Private Members’ Bill starting in the House of Lords but had not reached its first reading. 
  3. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (Amendment) Bill which sought to require landlords in the private rented sector to remedy hazards in leased dwellings. This was another Private Members’ Bill and had not reached its first reading in the House of Commons. 

Post election

Regardless of the outcome of the General Election, there are clear signs that property reform is likely to continue under the next government, alongside strong commitments to deliver more housing supported by strategic planning law reform.