The white paper on tenancy reform is the biggest upheaval in the private rental sector in 30 years

The fairer private rental sector white paper released today (16 June 2022) will ensure millions of families can live in decent, well-maintained homes in the biggest shake-up to the private rental sector in 30 years.

The white paper marks a generational shift that will restore the balance between landlords and the 4.4 million private tenants.

It offers new support for cost-of-living pressures with protections for the most vulnerable and new measures to tackle arbitrary and unfair rent increases.

It’s part of a wider reform program to improve lives and level the country, providing more housing and better protection for tenants and landlords.

The majority of tenants enjoy safe and secure rentals, but for the 21% of private tenants and households who currently live in substandard housing, this “New Deal” will extend the Decent Homes standard to the private sector for the first time, improving opportunities. .

This means that homes must be free from serious health and safety hazards, and that landlords must maintain homes in good repair so that tenants have clean, suitable and usable facilities.

Evictions under Section 21 – which allow landlords to terminate leases without giving a reason – will be prohibited.

More than a fifth of private tenants who moved in 2019 and 2020 did not end their tenancy by choice, including 8% who were asked to leave by their landlord.

The measures released today also include:

  • Helping the most vulnerable by outlawing blanket bans on renting to families with children or benefit recipients
  • For the first time, end the use of arbitrary rent review clauses, prevent the courts from raising rents, and allow tenants to recover rent for substandard housing. This will ensure that tenants can sue their landlord for rent reimbursement if their accommodation is of an unacceptable standard
  • Make it easier for tenants to have much-loved pets in their home by giving all tenants the right to request a pet in their home, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse
  • All tenants will be moved to a single system of periodic tenancies, meaning they can move out of poor quality housing without remaining liable for rent or move more easily when their circumstances change. A tenancy will only end if a tenant ends or a landlord has a valid reason, as defined by law
  • Double notice periods for rent increases and give tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified
  • Giving councils stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders, backed by law enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offenses

In addition, the estimated 2.3 million private owners will benefit from greater clarity and support through the following measures:

  • A new ombudsman for private tenants will be created to allow disputes between private tenants and landlords to be settled quickly, inexpensively and without recourse to the courts
  • Ensure responsible landlords can effectively take possession of their properties from anti-social tenants and can sell their properties when needed
  • Introducing a new property portal that will provide a one-stop-shop to help landlords understand and meet their responsibilities, as well as give councils and tenants the information they need to fight rogue operators

These reforms will help to ease the cost of living pressures tenants face, saving families from needlessly moving from one private home to another from hundreds of pounds in moving costs.

The government has already taken significant steps over the past decade to improve private renting, including reducing the proportion of substandard private rental accommodation from 37% to 21%, capping rental deposits and banning rental fees for tenancy agreements signed after June 1, 2019, and the introduction of pandemic emergency measures to prohibit bailiff evictions.

Today’s measures will form part of the Tenant Reform Bill, as announced in the Queen’s Speech, which will be introduced in this session of Parliament.

This will deliver on the government’s commitment to give tenants a better deal and bring the private rental sector into the 21st century with safer, more secure and better quality housing.

Upgrading and Housing Secretary Michael Gove said:

“For too long, many private tenants have been at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who fail to repair homes and leave families to live in damp, unsafe and cold properties, with the threat of unfair eviction orders ‘without fault” hanging over them.

Our New Deal for Tenants will help end this injustice by improving the rights and conditions of millions of tenants as we move forward across the country and address people’s priorities.

While the majority of private rental accommodation is of good quality, providing safe and comfortable accommodation for families, the conditions of more than half a million accommodations – or 12% of households – pose an imminent risk to health and tenant safety, an estimated 1.6 million people live in dangerously poor quality housing, driving up the costs of our health services.

The government says the area provides the most expensive, least secure and least good housing to millions of tenants, including 1.3 million households with children and 382,000 households over the age of 65 and that rents are rising to their fastest level in 5 years.

Last week the government introduced the Social Housing Regulation Bill, which means defaulting social housing owners could face unlimited fines and Ofsted-style inspections.

In a major power reset between tenants and landlords, residents will be able to demand information and rate their landlord as part of new satisfaction measures.

Combined with today’s Tenant Reform White Paper, the Bill will be a key part of the Government’s mission to get up to speed across the country and meet people’s priorities.

Nick Lyons, Founder and CEO of No Letting Go, comments:

“While it is pleasing that the white paper has been published much earlier than expected – perhaps as the government tries to divert the agenda from other issues – the reforms appear to be a little more sweeping than expected and don’t seem to give owners much in the way of incentive or protection.

There is likely to be quite a bit of lobbying before it becomes the Tenant Reform Bill and then begins its journey through Parliament.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of it all is the mention of pets, which has become an increasingly popular desire among renters, especially since the pandemic.

Previous attempts by the government to give tenants the right to keep pets have not worked well, and it would be surprising if this latest plan did not meet opposition either.

We will all need to take a close look at the White Paper and make sure landlords, agents, tenants and suppliers are considered. »

Adam Male, Chief Revenue Officer at online rental agent Mashroom, comments:

Comments on the possibility for tenants to terminate their rental agreement

“In the White Paper, tenants will have more power to quickly end their tenancy if their situation changes or if they live in inadequate accommodation. Following the removal of Section 21, landlords and tenants will need to provide a legitimate reason to reclaim their property from a tenant, which comparatively will not be a quick and easy process.

Giving tenants this option will protect them from dodgy landlords who abuse the system, but these proposals seem unfair to genuine landlords who provide excellent service to their tenants and may need to reclaim their property quickly for a valid reason. .”

The deletion of article 21 and the introduction of the private tenants’ mediator

“Many private landlords would probably tell you that they are unlikely to evict reliable tenants who look after their property and meet rental payment deadlines.

Reasons landlords may want to quickly leave their rental units include rent arrears, anti-social behavior, damage, or wanting to live in the house themselves.

Repealing Section 21 makes it much more difficult to evict unruly tenants, instead of having to rely on Section 8 notices, which take longer to process and will most likely be taken to court.

Driving down the Section 8 road can take 12 months or more to repossess the property and a lengthy court battle, despite having a valid reason to quickly evict a tenant.

The proposal to introduce a private tenant ombudsman will be seen as a welcome addition to resolve any issues between landlords and tenants and ensure they can repossess their property from tenants who continue to break tenancy agreement rules, thus reducing the pressure on the courts.

The government must work to ensure that this proposed mediator is put in place quickly so that responsible owners can recover properties without the need for lengthy court battles.

Pets for rent

“Plans to allow pets in rental properties will most likely be good news for tenants who currently own or plan to introduce them to their household, but I think it will cause concern for private landlords.

Landlords can be nervous about allowing pets to live in their rental properties, which can be unpredictable and could lead to damage and costly repairs.

Currently, landlords can only ask for 5 weeks rent in advance to cover the deposit for a rental property.

If pet damage exceeds this amount, owners may be out of pocket and required to cover any additional repair work.

One solution to this could be for the government to consider extending the amount of deposit tenants with pets will have to put down on a property before moving in, increasing it to up to 8 weeks to cover any potential damage.

Insisting that renters obtain appropriate insurance to cover the cost of potential damage to pets would also be a welcome requirement to give landlords more protection.

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