Outline details of the Government’s renters reform White Paper have been published, full details of which are due to be revealed in parliament later this morning.
The proposals are:
- Helping the most vulnerable by outlawing blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits.
- For the first time, ending the use of arbitrary rent review clauses, restricting tribunals from hiking up rent and enabling tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes. This will make sure tenants can take their landlord to court to seek repayment of rent if their homes are of unacceptable standard.
- Making it easier for tenants to have pets in their homes by giving all tenants the right to request a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
- All tenants to be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies, meaning they can leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change. A tenancy will only end if a tenant ends it or a landlord has a valid reason, defined in law.
- Doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified.
- Giving councils stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders, backed by enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offences.
- Ensuring responsible landlords can gain possession of their properties efficiently from anti-social tenants and can sell their properties when they need to.
- Introducing a new property portal that will help landlords to understand, and comply with, their responsibilities as well as giving councils and tenants the information they need to tackle rogue operators.
Responding to the publication today of the Government’s White Paper on reform of the private rented sector, Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, says: “Whilst headline commitments to strengthening possession grounds, speedier court processes and mediation are helpful, the detail to follow must retain the confidence of responsible landlords, as well as improving tenants’ rights. We will be analysing the Government’s plans carefully to ensure they meet this test. A failure to do so will exacerbate the housing crisis at a time when renters are struggling to find the homes they need.
“The eventual legislation needs to recognise that government actions have led to a shortage of supply in the sector at a time of record demand. It is causing landlords to leave the sector and driving up rents when people can least afford it.”
Cllr David Renard, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, comments: “We are pleased that the Government has committed to introducing legislation through the White Paper to increase the rights of tenants and enable them to better hold their landlord to account.
“Removal of ‘no-fault evictions’ is a key step towards increased protection for private renters and will allow renters to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without fear of eviction. It will also be important that landlords are able to get their properties back in a timely fashion where they have a valid reason to do so.
“Commitment to extending a legally binding Decent Homes Standard to improve conditions in the private rented sector is positive. This reform should be implemented quickly, and it is vital that councils are sufficiently resourced, through new burdens funding, to support the implementation of the standard.
“To go even further towards tackling insecure and unfit housing, we would like to see a review of Local Housing Allowance rates, and councils to have stronger selective licensing powers by removing the requirement for Secretary of State approval for larger schemes.”
Richard Donnell, executive director of research & insight at Zoopla, adds: “With the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis putting pressure on renters, these reforms are welcome and timely, particularly as they're largely focused on boosting the quality of housing in the rented sector.
“However, it’s important to note that the private rented sector is under growing strain due to lower levels of new investment by private landlords, largely a result of tax changes and more regulation. There are a growing number of amateur, private landlords exiting the market, offsetting the increased investment from corporate landlords and institutional investors into the build-to-rent market. There is a delicate balance to ensure reforms don’t compound these supply-side challenges, which continue to keep an upward pressure on rents, which have risen 11% in the last year.”
“The Zoopla Lettings Advisory Board has advocated a range of initiatives to improve the transparency over the process of owning and renting homes. In particular, the need for a property register for rented homes to help with compliance on standards of accommodation and the move to define when homes meet the Decent Homes Standard for private rented homes. This will also boost transparency for renters and landlords who both have to deal with often complex regulatory requirements.”