The role of a locally-elected mayor was created when the government decided that more decisions could and should be made at a local level. London had the first elected mayor in 2000, when Ken Livingstone won as an independent candidate after he lost the vote to be Labour’s nominee.
There are now 17 elected mayors in England and Wales. Torbay, Bristol, Newham, Leicester and North Tyneside are just some of the areas, and there are plans to create six more from 2017, bringing 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, who is responsible for the day-to-day running of local services and can be quite a powerful figure.
The local government itself is created by a ‘devolution agreement’ between a local authority, for example London or Greater Manchester, and the central government. The agreement details all the powers and budgets that the elected mayor and their department will have and a ‘governance system’ is introduced locally to make sure that the mayor’s office delivers on its responsibilities.
There are four main areas of responsibility:
- Planning and housing
- Business support, funding and running local projects.
So the reason an elected mayor can influence what happens to your property investment is because they’re usually directly responsible for the strategic planning and housing delivery. They also have a big influence on where things like new transport facilities might be created, as well as the general health of the local economy. All of these things will have a direct effect on property values and potential rents in your area.
Other ways a mayor can affect your Buy to Let
Mayors can also introduce schemes and policies into their local housing market. For example, when Boris Johnson was the Conservative Mayor, he introduced the London Rental Standard. This is a voluntary scheme, where landlords and letting agents can apply to be accredited. If they’re successful, they can display the LRS badge and promote themselves to tenants as a good landlord, and the scheme also helps them keep up to date with the latest legal changes.
Sadiq Khan, the new London Mayor, says 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, visit http://www.sadiq.london/homes_for_londoners.
So if you have, or are about to have an elected mayor, make sure you understand how their plans might affect your local housing market and your own Buy to Let investment - and don’t forget to vote!
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