Rent reforms and leasehold changes set out in King’s Speech

King Charles has confirmed plans to ban leaseholds for new houses, as well as a ban on “no-fault” evictions. But there was no sign of the widely-anticipated Pension Reform Bill, aimed at consolidating small pots and increasing investment in private equity.

Britain's King Charles III, wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Robe of State, reads the King's speech from The Sovereign's Throne in the House of Lords chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament, at the Houses of Parliament, in London, on November 7, 2023
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Charles III has used his first King’s Speech to unveil reforms to leasehold properties, as well as new rules for renters

The speech details legislation that the government intends to pass in the next 12 months.

But there was no mention of a Pension Reform Bill, which would have brought in rules for consolidating small pension pots, and encouraged workplace pension schemes to allocate at least 5% of their default funds to private equity by 2030.

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The pension reforms were previously set out in the chancellor’s Mansion House speech in July. 

Nigel Peaple, director of policy and advocacy at trade body the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), comments: "Although it is disappointing the government did not include a Pensions Bill in today’s announcements, its absence will mean more time can be allocated to ensuring any reforms are well designed after in-depth consultation with the pensions sector."

It is likely the Autumn Statement on 22 November will include some of today's missing pension announcements, such as investing in unquoted shares to boost the UK economy.

However, renters and those buying new leasehold properties will likely be cheering today’s King’s Speech, as there was good news for them.

We run through the reforms that could affect your personal finances.

Leasehold and Freehold bill 

One of the more notable announcements of the King’s Speech was the confirmation of the long-awaited update on leasehold reform.

King Charles said in his speech: “My ministers will bring forward a bill to reform the housing market by making it cheaper and easier for leaseholders to purchase their freehold and tackling the exploitation of millions of homeowners through punitive service charges.”

The Leasehold and Freehold Bill will ban leaseholds for new houses - but not new flats - in England and Wales. It will also increase the standard lease extension period to 990 years for both flats and houses (with ground rent reduced to zero), and consult on capping existing ground rents.

Mark Chick, director of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP), notes: “Today’s announcement of a Leasehold and Freehold Bill could bring good news for property valuers, conveyancers and the 4.9 million homeowners in England and Wales with leases.” 

He says increasing the standard 90-year lease extension to 990 years is an “easy win”.

However, Chick warns that leasehold changes could “fuel confusion, cost and controversy”, and urges the government to consult widely and “take a considered approach to all aspects of potential reform”. 

According to ALEP, changing leaseholds could impact the cost of new homes, and even the value of private pensions, as many have investment in ground rents.

Renters (Reform) Bill 

The Renters (Reform) Bill will deliver a long-promised ban on "no-fault" evictions in England. 

Abolishing no-fault evictions is a government manifesto commitment, and part of its long-term plan for housing. The government says it wants to support the 11 million private tenants in England, and increase their security.

However, this will only come into force after reforms to the court system. The notes to the King’s Speech state: “We will not commence the abolition of section 21 until stronger possession grounds and a new court process is in place.”

Elsewhere in the Renters (Reform) Bill, tenants will have the right to request a pet, which landlords cannot unreasonably refuse, and it will become illegal to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children.

Tenant fees will also be banned, reducing the upfront cost of renting, and a digital “Private Rented Property Portal” will be created to bring together key information for landlords, tenants, and councils. 

The government says of the latter: “Landlords will quickly be able to understand their obligations and demonstrate compliance [and] tenants will be able to access helpful information when entering tenancies.”

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) welcomed the changes, but said it was concerned about the lack of timescale to reform and digitalise the court system, which will facilitate the ban on no-fault evictions. 

The bill also gives extra powers to the 2.3 million landlords in England. 

There will be “new mandatory grounds for possession, for example, if landlords wish to sell property or for repeated serious rent arrears, as well as expanding grounds for when close family members wish to move in. If a tenant breaches their tenancy agreement or damages the property, landlords will be able to evict them in as little as two weeks.”

Meanwhile, the proposal that all rented properties would need to meet EPC band C will be scrapped. 

Ruth Emery
Contributing editor

Ruth is passionate about helping people feel more confident about their finances. She was previously editor of Times Money Mentor, and prior to that was deputy Money editor at The Sunday Times. 

A multi-award winning journalist, Ruth started her career on a pensions magazine at the FT Group, and has also worked at Money Observer and Money Advice Service. 

Outside of work, she is a mum to two young children, a magistrate and an NHS volunteer.