Back in June 2022, the Government published a Renters Reform White Paper with proposals affecting landlords and tenants. Now, with the bill finally published, we can provide an overview of what it may mean for the future. The outlook is positive and the message has to be keep calm and carry on.
In 2019, during the late Queen’s speech at the opening of Parliament, she stated plans to remove section 21 (no fault evictions) as well as assured shorthold tenancies within the private rented sector.
In July 2019 a consultation was launched. This resulted in the White Paper which was published in June 2022 and the Renters (Reform) Bill was finally laid before Parliament last month.
The bill is currently under scrutiny and is pending a second reading in the House of Commons, once they have scrutinized the bill and feel no further changes or amendments are required, it will be passed to the House of Lords, and possible further amendments before receiving Royal Assent.
As you can see it has already been a lengthy process to date. Coronavirus played a big part in the delay. At least there is now a clearer understanding of the direction the legislation is likely to be heading. Whilst we are still quite a way from the bill becoming legislation, the Government will want to get this legislation passed before the next election.
Assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) will be a thing of the past. There will be no fixed term or renewal tenancies as all tenancies will be periodic (rolling contracts). This type of tenancy will suit most landlords and tenants but will be a major concern for landlords of student let properties although there is already significant pressure for student lets to be an exception.
All rent increase clauses will be removed but this does not mean a Landlord cannot increase a rent. Rents can still be increased by serving a section 13 notice though with two months’ notice to your tenant, no more often than once every 12 months. Thankfully, at The Accommodation Bureau we already use this method for rent increases.
Loss of section 21’s, with proposed strengthening section 8 grounds for possession.
This is perhaps the most controversial and headline grabbing part of the bill. Section 21 notices, commonly known as no fault evictions, will be scrapped. However, the bill actually proposes more grounds for a landlord to obtain possession through section 8. There are currently 20 grounds for possession. The bill suggests an additional 11 grounds with other grounds amended. Notice periods have been increased for the rent arrears grounds to four weeks. The anti-social behaviour ground 7a is now immediate which in theory will make it quicker to evict anti-social tenants. The holiday let ground has been removed which will be a blow to some landlords who offer “winter lets”.
We will need to wait and find out more detail about if there will be any changes to the court system to speed up the section 8 eviction process.
Just like now the tenant must make a written request to be able to keep a pet. The landlord would have to either accept or refuse the request, in writing within 42 days and consent must not be unreasonably withheld.
The landlord can request the tenant maintain insurance that covers the risk of pet damage during the tenancy or, if the landlord takes out insurance, the tenant must pay the landlords reasonable cost for maintaining the insurance. The landlord must give the tenant a copy of the insurance policy and inform them if there is an excess amount they could be liable for.
What has not been included in the Renters (Reform) Bill
The White Paper had mentioned that they would also be looking at introducing a Decent Homes Standard by 2030, ensuring every property is deemed safe for all tenants to live in. Introducing a new property portal for both landlords and tenants to have access to, having a single ombudsman to deal with disputes between landlords and tenants, as well as lifetime security deposits.
It also mentioned not being able to have a blanket ban for families with children or those in receipt of housing benefits or universal credit.
Whilst these have not been mentioned in the bill, it can be expected they can be either added to the Renters (Reform) Bill at a later date or the bill may allow for further regulations to be made in the future to bring these elements into force.
If you have any questions regarding the legislation, then please do not hesitate to contact our Office Manager, Sam Whitehead, on 01208 78480.
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