Recently, the government announced the Renters’ (Reform) Bill, a series of proposed changes to the private rented sector (PRS) that is set to provide 11million tenants across England – and 2.3million landlords – with safer, fairer, and higher quality homes.
The bill represents the biggest shake-up of the private rental sector in 30 years, and the most significant parts focus on the ending of renters’ tenancies, with new protections enforced for tenants and landlords.
Abolishing Section 21
Headlining the reforms is the abolishment of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, which is the leading cause of homelessness in the UK according to the charity Shelter.
While good news for tenants facing unliveable conditions or struggling with rogue landlords, the change shouldn’t impact those landlords behaving reasonably.
Conversely, the bill hands additional powers to landlords in certain circumstances. Should the changes come into effect, they will make it easier for landlords to recover properties they wish to sell up or rent to family members, and to evict tenants for repeated failure to pay rent and anti-social behaviour. Required notice periods will be reduced in such instances where tenants have repeatedly fallen into rental arrears or caused damage to the property.
Meanwhile, the changes will make it illegal for landlords to impose blanket bans on certain types of renters. Under the reformed laws, landlords would no longer be allowed to deny tenancy to applicants because they claim benefits or to families with children.
Pet-owning tenants will also be supportive of the rule changes. Landlords must consider all requests for pet ownership and cannot unreasonably refuse, with these rules also applying to tenants wishing to welcome a pet mid-tenancy.
Administrative and procedural updates
If the bill is passed, new administrative processes and procedures will support the changes. A Decent Homes Standards will dictate minimum standards for housing quality, and the appointment of a new Ombudsman will manage tenant and landlord disputes.
A new Property Portal will also be created to support tenants and landlords. Landlords will have access to clear information about their obligations through the portal, empowering tenants to make better decisions when signing tenancy agreements.
Hopes for the reforms
Housing Secretary Michael Gove described the reforms as ‘once in a generation’, stating, “Our new laws… 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.”
Landlords should be reassured by the promise of additional control when rental agreements don’t go to plan. Whether battling problem tenants, seeking to sell up, or renting to close family, new protections will be in place to regain possession of private rented properties.
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