The latest briefing notes from the government reveal that the proposed ‘lifetime deposit’ scheme initially discussed by Ministers is off the table for the time being, while a national landlord register scheme for England also appears to have been put on hold too.
Instead of a national landlord register, the Government is to publish a list of all PRS properties in England including the name of the ‘superior’ landlord, where all information about the property will be held on a single ‘portal’ – so a sort of landlord register through the back door.
In its latest commentary following the Queen’s Speech, and also via industry briefings, the key elements of the White Paper due next month which will eventually turn into the Renters Reform Bill are to include:
- Abolishing so-called ‘no fault’ evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, providing security for tenants in the private rented sector and empowering them to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without fear of retaliatory eviction.
- Reforming 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.
- Applying the legally binding Decent Homes Standard in the Private Rented Sector for the first time ever, giving tenants safer, better quality and better value homes.
- Introduce a new Ombudsman for private landlords so that disputes can easily be resolved without the need to go to court, which is often costly and lengthy, and ensure that when residents make a complaint, landlords take action to put things right.
- Introducing a new property portal to help landlords understand their obligations, give tenants performance information to hold their landlord to account as well as aiding local authorities.
Ben Beadle (pictured), Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “We welcome the Government’s acceptance that reforms to the rented sector need to strengthen the ability of landlords to tackle anti-social tenants and those with repeated rent arrears.
“We will continue to work to ensure that these and other grounds for possession are fair and workable.
“Whilst we support proposals for an Ombudsman to cut the number of possession cases needing to go the court, this cannot be a substitute for proper court reform as well.
“At present it can take almost a year for a private landlord to repossess a property through the courts where they have a legitimate reason to do so. This is simply not good enough.”
Paul Wootton (pictured), Director of The Landlord Works, says: “Delivering the Government’s commitment to abolish section 21 is a long-awaited and positive step forward.
“To successfully deliver change, the abolition must be supported by reform of the section 8 evictions process – giving a clear list of reasons why a tenant can be evicted and court reform to ensure cases can be dealt with quickly when serious problems do arise.
“The introduction of a ‘property portal’ with landlord and property details could have positive benefits for the sector including allowing mortgage lenders to identify unregistered properties and supporting local authorities prioritise their enforcement activity.
“The private rented sector has to work effectively for the mutual good of landlords and tenants if it is to deliver good quality, safe and secure homes and these reforms are a welcome step towards that goal.”
“We can’t level up without dramatic improvements to the quality of rented homes,” says Alicia Kennedy of Generation Rent (pictured).
“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.
“Renters have been waiting three years for the government to abolish these insidious Section 21 evictions. Finally, legislation looks to be on its way.
“But we can’t rest until the changes are passed into law. Now it’s the details that matter.
“It is essential that any new tenancy regime reduces the number of unwanted moves and gives renters the confidence to challenge poor practice by landlords.
“The plans also appear to address the desperate lack of regulation of private landlords, with a new ombudsman, a property portal and a requirement to meet the Decent Homes Standard. We need more detail on each, but they are essential measures if private renters are to exercise their rights effectively.”