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Government U-turns on eviction and tenancy reforms

renting reforms dluhc

The Government has confirmed that it will not bring in its controversial ban on Section 21 evictions within the looming Renters (Reform) Bill until problems with the courts have been fixed.

This promise was made ahead of today’s second reading of the bill, with the legislation now due to get Royal Assent early next year, bar a General Election.

A Government spokesperson said over the weekend that the “implementation of the new system for repossessing properties “will not take place until we judge sufficient progress has been made to improve the courts.

“That means we will not proceed with the abolition of section 21 until reforms to the justice system are in place.”

This follows heavy lobbying by both the National Residential Landlord Association (NLRA) and internally within Government, with many experts pointing out that delays of up to six months to gain a possession order via the courts, and problems with a lack of bailiffs, mean some landlords are waiting for a year to regain possession when tenants behave badly or stop paying the rent.

Also, the NRLA says it has been told that Ministers have finally listened to student landlords, who have been warning for many months that the ‘periodic tenancies’ that will replace Assured Shorthold Tenancies next year will cause major problems within the sector.

"Having engaged across the sector, we understand the cyclical model is critical for landlords’ business models and ensures a timely and robust supply of student accommodation," the Government says.

"We will therefore introduce a ground for possession that will facilitate the yearly cycle of short-term student tenancies. This will enable new students to sign up to a property in advance, safe in the knowledge they will have somewhere to live the next year."

But Ministers still want students to have the 'same flexibility as other kinds of tenant' saying "retaining fixed terms for students, as per the committee’s recommendation, would not in itself mean properties are available at the end of an academic year for next year’s students.

"Unless notice is served, tenants have a right to remain in a property when a fixed term ends, and a landlord must still use a ground for possession or section 21 to evict them.

"We believe retaining fixed terms would unfairly lock students into contracts, meaning they could not leave if a property is poor quality, or their circumstances change."

Supply crisis

Ben Beadle (pictured), Chief Executive of the NRLA, adds: “Reform of the rental market will only work if it has the confidence of responsible landlords every bit as much as their tenants.

“This is especially important given the rental housing supply crisis renters now face.

“Following extensive campaigning by the NRLA, we welcome the approach taken by ministers to ensure court improvements are made before section 21 ends. The Government is also right to protect the student housing market. However, more is needed to ensure student landlords are treated the same as providers of purpose-built student accommodation.

“We will continue to engage positively with all parties as the Bill progresses through Parliament.”

Paul Shamplina (pictured), founder of Landlord Action, says: “I’m pleased the government won’t be rushing this.

“When the bill was first announced, I said then you can’t ban Section 21 until you sort the courts out with resource to make it become more efficient than it is now- which currently is the worst I’ve seen in my 30 years working within the private rented sector.  

“Major recruitment on judges and bailiffs are desperately needed, with confidence given to landlords, so they know they can get their properties back in a reasonable manner.”


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