What are the new reforms and what do they mean for the private rented sector?
The Renters’ Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament this month promising to deliver an overhaul of housing laws to ensure ‘safer, fairer and higher quality homes’.
The bill balances increasing protections for both the eleven million private tenants across England and the two million landlords.
Among the headlines of the new bill is the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions which will allow renters to challenge poor landlords without fear of losing their home.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them.
“This government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a new deal to those living in the private rented sector; one with quality, affordability, and fairness at its heart.
“Our new laws introduced to Parliament will support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants, while delivering our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions.
“This will ensure that everyone can live somewhere which is decent, safe and secure – a place they’re truly proud to call home.”
Tenants will also be given the legal right to request a pet in their home, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. Landlords will be able to require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property.
The reforms will make it easier for landlords to recover properties when they need to, for example: to sell their property, accommodate a family member, or when tenants wilfully do not pay rent. Notice periods will also be reduced where tenants have been irresponsible – for example breaching their tenancy agreement or causing damage to the property.
The reforms will strengthen powers to evict anti-social tenants, broadening the disruptive and harmful activities that can lead to eviction and making it quicker to evict a tenant acting anti-socially.
The court process will also be reformed alongside the new tenancy systems to ensure for a more aligned and faster process for both landlords and tenants. A new Ombudsman will provide quicker and cheaper resolutions to disputes, while a new digital Property Portal will enable landlords to understand their obligations and help tenants make better decisions when signing a new tenancy agreement.
This aims to give confidence to good landlords, while driving the criminal minority out of business.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com said: “We have long needed a statutory single private rental Ombudsman – so I’m pleased to see it in the legislative plans.
“After all, disputes are often between two individuals – landlord and tenant – rather than between companies, so it can be very personal and difficult to sort. Crucially, it won’t be voluntary, all private landlords will be required to join the Ombudsman, and it will have legal authority to compel apologies, take remedial action and pay compensation.”
The government will also bring forward legislation as part of the Bill to:
- Apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time, giving renters safer, higher quality homes and remove the blight of poor-quality homes in local communities.
- Make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children.
- Strengthen councils’ enforcement powers and introduce a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity – to help target criminal landlords.
The Bill follows the wider housing reforms in the Social Housing Regulation Bill and Building Safety Act. These address the systemic issues identified following the Grenfell Tower tragedy on improving the safety and quality of social housing and how tenants are treated by their landlords.
Dan Wilson Craw, acting director, Generation Rent, said: “The Renters’ Reform Bill is a huge opportunity to improve the lives of the eleven million people who now rent from private landlords in England.
“Arbitrary Section 21 evictions make it impossible for tenants to put down roots and report problems about their home with confidence. Abolishing them will take away much of the stress of renting and improve communication and trust between tenants and landlords.
“The new Property Portal and Ombudsman have the potential to make it much harder for criminal landlords to operate.”