Outline details of the Government’s renters reform White Paper have been published, full details of which are due to be revealed in parliament later this morning.
Prior to that announcement, housing secretary Michael Gove (pictured) has promised the ‘biggest shake-up of the rented sector for 30 years with an eye on both the next election, the PM’s levelling-up agenda and the cost of living crisis.
Gove’s department the DLUHC says it will now introduce its subsequent Renters Reform Act before March next year.
Gove says: “For too long many private renters have been at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who fail to repair homes and let families live in damp, unsafe and cold properties, with the threat of unfair ‘no fault’ evictions orders hanging over them.
“Our New Deal for renters will help to end this injustice by improving the rights and conditions for millions of renters as we level up across the country and deliver on the people’s priorities.”
The proposals are:
- Helping the most vulnerable by outlawing blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits;
- For the first time, ending the use of arbitrary rent review clauses, restricting tribunals from hiking up rent and enabling tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes. This will make sure tenants can take their landlord to court to seek repayment of rent if their homes are of unacceptable standard
- Making it easier for tenants to have much-loved pets in their homes by giving all tenants the right to request a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
- All tenants to be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies, meaning they can leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change. A tenancy will only end if a tenant ends or a landlord has a valid reason, defined in law.
- Doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified
- Giving councils stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders, backed by enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offences.
- A new Private Renters’ Ombudsman (first announced in 2019) will be created to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court
- Ensuring responsible landlords can gain possession of their properties efficiently from anti-social tenants and can sell their properties when they need to.
- Introducing a new property portal that will provide a single front door to help landlords to understand, and comply with, their responsibilities as well as giving councils and tenants the information they need to tackle rogue operators.
Ben Beadle (pictured), Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, which has been busy lobbying the government on many aspects of the White Paper including court reform and evictions, says: “Whilst headline commitments to strengthening possession grounds, speedier court processes and mediation are helpful, the detail to follow must retain the confidence of responsible landlords, as well as improving tenants’ rights.
“We will be analysing the Government’s plans carefully to ensure they meet this test. A failure to do so will exacerbate the housing crisis at a time when renters are struggling to find the homes they need.
“The eventual legislation needs to recognise that government actions have led to a shortage of supply in the sector at a time of record demand. It is causing landlords to leave the sector and driving up rents when people can least afford it.”
Polly Neate (pictured), Chief Executive of Shelter, says: “The Renters’ Reform Bill is a gamechanger for England’s 11 million private renters. Scrapping unfair evictions will level the playing field. For the first time in a long time, tenants will be able to stand up to bad behaviour instead of living in fear.
“This White Paper promises people safety and security in their home, and it makes clear that landlords need to play by the rules. Gone will be the days of families being uprooted and children forced to move school after being slapped with a Section 21 no-fault eviction for no good reason.”
How fair is it?
Nathan Emerson (pictured), CEO of Propertymark says: “After waiting three years to see exactly what this reform will look like, we’ve now got a set of proposals titled ‘The Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper’. But there are some elements that don’t appear to be so.
“How is it fair that a tenant can simply end a tenancy at a time of their choosing, but an agent or landlord has to present a valid reason that is defined in law?
“Now we have the detail of what’s being proposed, we will be closely scrutinising it and working with Ministers to help them understand how on a practical level it will impact our letting agents members and their landlords.
“Our sector provides around 4.4 million households in England with a place to live. Property is a good long-term investment but the number of property owners choosing to withdraw from this area is growing*.
“That’s the result of a decade of tax and regulatory burden that simply does not incentivise investment, especially for single property landlords who make up 43% of the market.
“The private rental market is already under huge strain with renters outstripping available properties and we need to be able to attract new investment.
“If Ministers really do want to create a ‘fairer private rented sector’, they must work with us to ensure these reforms are carefully balanced and any interventions to achieve short-term objectives do not constrain the market in the longer term.”