The Conservatives have appointed their seventh housing minister since 2010. He has in the past voted against the ban on letting agent fees.
Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton in Surrey, was appointed yesterday as part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s reshuffle, replacing Alok Sharma who was just seven months in the post.
Raab moves from the Ministry of Justice, joining the rebranded Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as minister for housing. Planning appears to have been removed from his title. It comes after Communities Secretary Sajid Javid saw housing added to his remit on Monday.
Raab has in the past voted with the Government on cutting housing benefit and has spoken on reform of the home buying process for conveyancers, mentioning the Government’s call for evidence – subsequently launched last October – during a debate last year.
More interestingly, he voted against an Opposition day debate in June 2014 that had proposed introducing a ban on letting agent fees – a proposal which is now Government policy.
Sharma was yesterday shuffled to a new post as employment minister.
His is believed to be the shortest tenure for a housing minister and now means the property sector is on its 16th housing minister since 1997. Raab is the third housing minister in the 18 months or so since May became Prime Minister, following on from Gavin Barwell and Sharma.
Sharma was criticised at the time of his appointment as he had previously opposed developments in his own constituency and many questioned his experience in the area of housing. Critics during his tenure said he was almost entirely invisible.
However, the tragic Grenfell Tower fire took place a day after his appointment and the Draft Tenant Fees Bill was introduced under his watch.
Sharma may be regretting a quip at the start of a recent RICS conference – one of the few industry events at which he appeared – where he joked about the revolving door of housing ministers.
Commenting on the changes, David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, and Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “We have been working closely with Alok Sharma in this role previously, alongside Sajid Javid as Communities Secretary, to make suggestions on plans to ultimately regulate the sector and make the process of buying, selling, renting or leasing a property better for consumers.
“If housing is genuinely a priority for the Government, then continuity and consistency with the new housing minister and Sajid Javid is absolutely key, and we look forward to working with them both over the coming months.”