The Government has released a limited amount of new detail about its plans for renters and landlords within the briefing notes published following the Queen’s Speech.
Ministers have put a little more meat on the bone, but the document is more conspicuous by its omissions.
Both ‘lifetime deposits’ which are understood to be firmly on the backburner, and a national landlords register for England, which is simply not mentioned, were originally part of the original Renters Reform Bill proposals.
The Neg understands that lifetime deposits have proved too difficult to implement in an official capacity and Ministers are happy to leave the market to provide this kind of ‘deposit passport’. And rather than bring in a national landlord register, an official list of PRS properties is being proposed instead.
As before, the Government has re-affirmed it three-year-old promise to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions but in return it will reform ‘possession grounds for landlords, introducing new and stronger grounds for repeated incidences of rent arrears and reducing notice periods for anti-social behaviour, ensuring that they can regain their property efficiently when needed’.
Other items mentioned in the briefing notes have already been announced or proposed.
This includes applying the legally binding Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector (PRS) for the first time ever, introducing mandatory redress for landlords via a new ombudsman scheme for landlords vs tenant disputes.
The Government will also introduce a property portal to ‘help landlords understand their obligations’, ‘give tenants performance information to hold their landlord to account’ as well as ‘aiding local authorities’.
Industry watchers have applauded the government for its renewed promise to introduce major reforms to the PRS, but more jaded observers point out that action has been promised since at least 2019 on this.
Jeremy Leaf (pictured), north London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman: ‘There is no point in frightening off landlords or tenants and trying to find a balance between the two is key.
“The Government has discussed getting rid of Section 21 for a while so that comes as no surprise.
“But it is important to create a balance between landlords and tenant because we don’t want supply to be reduced unnecessarily and nor do we want to retain tenants who are in serious arrears or displaying anti-social behaviour, which is upsetting other people in and around the property.
“Reforming tenancies and raising standards in the private rented sector are essential first steps towards this so the government’s recommitment to a Renters Reform Bill is hugely important,” says Alicia Kennedy of Generation Rent (pictured).
“Renters have been waiting three years for the Government to abolish these insidious Section 21 evictions. Finally, legislation looks to be on its way.
Tom Mundy (pictured), COO of Goodlord, adds: “After so many delays, the Queen’s Speech has put the Renters’ Reform Bill back on the table.
“Although the Bill is set to introduce policies which divide opinion in the sector, the ongoing uncertainty around when these proposals would come into law weren’t helping anyone.
“Now that it’s clearly back on the agenda, the Government must provide letting agents, landlords and tenants the clarity they need to move forward with confidence.
“Uncertainty is no good for the market, especially one that’s grappling with an ever changing set of regulations and new requirements. The industry now needs clear timelines so they can prepare accordingly.”
Simon Tillyer of Vouch says: “This is fantastic news for the sector. This legislation has been a long time coming and represents a pivotal moment for the lettings industry.
“Unlike previous legislation, it appears that the bill will go further in encouraging greater levels of transparency and accountability between all parties involved in a tenancy. We look forward to seeing what the complete white paper includes next month.”
Timothy Douglas (pictured), Head of Policy and Campaigns for Propertymark says: “The measures proposed for the private rented sector in the Queen’s Speech will have a significant impact on letting agents, their landlords and therefore tenants in England.
“What we need to see is balance throughout the possession and court processes to ensure that agents and landlords have efficient access to regain possession when justified. Letting agents are already well versed in dispute resolution, making them a pivotal part that could prove to be more efficient than the introduction of a new property portal.
“An introduction of legally binding standards of property across the rented sector is welcome in principle, but legislators must understand what is possible across a variety of property types which exist in the private rented sector.”