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By Beth Rudolf

Director of Delivery, Conveyancing Association

OTHER FEATURES

Michael Gove 'gets it' - why his return is good news for the industry

Recent political changes – and there have been quite a few in recent weeks – have brought about something of a ‘back to the future’ feel, particularly since Rishi Sunak took over as Prime Minister.

The need to find a mandate for our third Prime Minister this Parliament has seen Sunak focusing on the Conservative Party’s 2019 General Election victory and the manifesto from back then. The suggestion, of course, being that this was very much a victory for the party rather than any one individual – namely Boris Johnson.

Sunak’s return to that was quickly followed up by something of a return to the pre-Liz Truss era, which admittedly didn’t last very long but did have a large number of changes of both personnel, focus and policy.

Sunak’s first decisions have seen a number of ministers from the last Boris Johnson Cabinet returning to their ‘old jobs’ – most notably for us as a property sector, being the return of Michael Gove to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) as Secretary of State. A position he last held in July before being sacked by Johnson for suggesting the former PM needed to step down.

However, this return – and the renewed focus on the 2019 manifesto – might well give us a glimpse of what the government intends to do in the housing market over the rest of this Parliament.

For a start, it could well mean the housebuilding targets quickly ditched by Liz Truss, will return. The 2019 manifesto committed to building 300,000 new homes each year by the mid-2020s, suggesting the government would facilitate the building of more than a million new homes of all tenures over this period.

It will not need me to point out these figures now seem ambitious in the extreme, and Gove’s reputation as a Minister who ‘gets things done’ might be pushed to the limit in trying to hit such numbers over the course of the next two years, especially with many councils still getting their heads around “nutrient neutrality” in planning.

However, Gove’s return to DLUHC could work well for many property industry stakeholders and practitioners, not least because if there is anyone who knows this ‘brief’, it is him. He only spent three months away from this department and will be fully aware of what is on the agenda, and what needs doing.

In that regard, it’s fair to say we’ve seen some positive movement across a number of issues that the Conveyancing Association has been heavily involved in, not least righting some of the many leasehold wrongs that have been wrought on leaseholders over the years. And earlier this year, we saw the Upper Tribunal setting the precedent that landlords cannot charge a fee to collect ground rent in leasehold properties.

Gove has always been supportive of using legislation in order to rectify the abuses that leaseholders have had to contend with, and we’ve obviously seen that with the new rules governing new leaseholds, ground rents, etc.

What we do need now, however, is the next stage of this process to be expedited and we need action for existing leaseholders, a greater push towards other tenures such as commonhold, plus of course further action in highly-important areas such as cladding and building safety.

It would be fair to say that many within our sector have ‘a lot of time’ for Michael Gove because they have already seen positive movement and action in the areas mentioned above, and they are hoping Gove now moves these on and finishes what he began.

This is just as true when it comes to improving the home buying and selling process, and in our dealings with the department over the years, there has always been a positivity about achieving this, and a recognition of the benefits it would provide both consumers and those working in our marketplace.

We recently spoke about most things now being in place to deliver on this, but recognised that without the government mandating these solutions into existence, we would continue to struggle to get the full benefits. Again, Michael Gove now has the chance to make our process more efficient, less stressful, less costly, and to truly take it into the 21st century.

The CA, and many other stakeholder bodies and organisations, will continue to fight this particular fight. We believe we have a Secretary of State who ‘gets it’ – it’s now time to deliver a positive home moving experience for all.

*Beth Rudolf is Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association (CA)

  • Dharmesh Mistry

    Great post ! Hopefully a period of stability in government will allow for faster progress. Focus on the home has never been been more important...

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    Gove delivered zero whilst he was in post last time, as I predicted he was parachucted in, made some noise and was kicked out. Which is is modus operandi.

    Only 183,786 new properties were built in the year he was in post.

    And apart from nonsense about brownfill as being the remedy (does anyone realise the cost to decontaminate these sites - hardly a solution that will ever work) so the precious greenbelt voters are not upset - his tenure as housing secretary and minister of silly walks/levelling up was its usual lack lustre performance. Is Disco Gove a great brain? - Yes, can he do politics - Yes?

    Will he at the fag end of a this government be able to do anything of merit ... Zara thinks not, but can not wait to see what new wheezes he dreams up before he goes into oblivion after the next general election.

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