The Prime Minister today has changed her mind and announced that she does want to have an early General election after all.
Fixed Terms don’t work
Of course in the (good?) old days if the Prime Minister wanted to call an election, he or she could, without having to go to the bother of tabling a motion in the House of Commons first. This is the first and possibly last time that the Fixed Term Parliaments Act is being used.
Assuming her motion passes, as we are sure it will, this represents the tenant of No 10 Downing Street asking her landlord, the public, for a four or five-year long-term tenancy.
Initial short tenancy has suited Prime Minister
This represents what we have said for some time regarding how long-term tenancies develop over time.
In a previous blog, we had referred to the Mrs May as an ‘accidental Prime Minister’ who led a ‘Statutory Periodic Government’. Thinking of her as a tenant in this instance, we can see that Mrs May upon entering No 10, initially favoured the flexibility of not being tied down. The idea of an early election and an immediate 4 or 5 year tenancy would not be appropriate she insisted. This is the same for most tenants as they move into a new job, new area etc and don’t know what the future holds.
Then after 9 months, when Mrs May was established in her job and both her and her husband were happy with the property, they realised they wanted to broach the subject of a longer term tenancy with their landlord. We will see how this conversation goes and whether the landlord is happy with this arrangement. If the tenant has shown a previous good track record of paying rent on time and has not proved troublesome to other tenants or neighbours, than normally landlords are as a whole positive to such approaches.
What does this announcement mean for the PRS?
During an election the Civil Service officially goes into Purdah, meaning there can be no official activity on issues such as the recently published consultation on Banning Letting Agents Fees. The consultation will however remain live so the new Government could table legislation immediately after an election if it so wished, though this is unlikely. Issues such as Client Money Protection and HMO Licensing will all have to wait for the next Government though as these proposals / consultations have yet to be published.
In the meantime, we will more than likely see manifesto promises over longer term tenancies and standards in the PRS (licensing?), with rhetoric regarding landlord taxes and rent controls from some quarters.
In the meantime this whole episode is yet another example of why Fixed Terms don’t work.