Having recently had ‘Super Thursday’ elections across the country for the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly of Wales, Northern Ireland Assembly, the London Mayor’s post and many other councils in England, you may be interested – and surprised - to find out how much impact a mayor can now have on local property investment.
The role of a locally-elected mayor came into being when consideration was given to having more decisions made at a local level. The first elected mayor was for London in 2000, won by Ken Livingstone, who stood as an independent candidate after he lost the vote to be Labour’s nominee.
There are now 17 elected mayors in England and Wales, including those for Doncaster, Bristol, Newham, Liverpool and North Tyneside, and 6 more are expected to be created from 2017, to bring the total up to 23. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own different systems of local government.
What are the main responsibilities of a mayor?
There can be two types of mayor on a council. The first is the ‘civic mayor’ which is a ceremonial position, without any decision-making powers; the second is an elected mayor and they have responsibility for the day-to-day running of local services.
It’s the elected mayor that can have substantial power in local government, which is granted by a ‘devolution agreement’ between a local authority, such as London or Greater Manchester, and the central government. The agreement stipulates all the powers and budgets that the elected mayor and their department will have and a ‘governance system’ is introduced locally to ensure that the mayor’s office delivers on its responsibilities.
There are typically four main areas of responsibility:
- Planning and housing
- Business support, funding and running local projects.
The reason an elected mayor can therefore influence what happens to your property investment is that they are usually directly responsible for the strategic planning and housing delivery, as well as having a big influence on where new transport facilities may be created, for example, as well as the general health of the local economy. All of these things will directly impact property values and potential rents in your area.
Other ways a mayor can affect your Buy to Let and property investment
Mayors are also able to introduce schemes and policies into their local housing market. For example, when Boris Johnson was the Conservative Mayor, he introduced the London Rental Standard, a voluntary accreditation scheme for landlords and letting agents. Those who are successfully licensed to display the LRS badge are able to promote themselves to tenants as a good landlord, and the scheme helps them keep up to date with the latest legal changes.
And the newly-elected London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, states in his manifesto that he intends to take action on “naming and shaming bad landlords” while “promoting the good ones”. To find out more about his strategy for housing, click here.
So if you have, or are about to have an elected mayor, do make sure you understand how they plan to impact your local housing market - and don’t forget to vote!
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