Landlords' responsibilities in tenancy management have changed significantly over the past two decades. As the demographics in the private rented sector shift and with 20 percent of households now privately renting, the Government is looking to regulate landlord-tenant relationships further.
Our policy work in this area includes:
- tenancy reform and possession
We recognise the importance of the landlord-tenant relationship as the centre of a successful tenancy.
This means that both landlords and tenants know and understand their rights and responsibilities.
Regulation of this relationship should ensure that criminal landlords are not able to take advantage of vulnerable tenants but should also be balanced to ensure that responsible landlords are able to run their businesses effectively.
Tenancy reform and possession
Landlords can seek possession through two processes under the Housing Act 1988: Section 8, which requires the landlord to provide a reason - or ground and Section 21, which can only be used outside of a fixed term but which doesn't require the landlord to specify a ground. If the criteria for a Section 21 claim are met the court must grant possession, whereas under Section 8 some grounds are mandatory whereas others - such as antisocial behaviour - are discretionary.
In the biggest change in the sector for 30 years, the UK Government has announced that it will be abolishing Section 21 and landlords will need to use the Section 8 process to regain possession.
Many landlords currently use Section 21 even though they have grounds under Section 8 due to the longer process, higher cost and lack of certainty associated with Section 8.
Alongside reforms to the courts, we are calling for the Section 8 grounds to be updated so that they reflect the current rental market and enable landlords to be confident that they will be able to regain possession where they have legitimate reasons to do so.
We are calling for:
- the introduction of grounds where landlords need to sell, or they or their family need to move into the property
- changes to ensure that landlords have a reasonable expectation of regaining possession where there is antisocial behaviour
- improvements to the rent arrears grounds so that tenants cannot continually build up and pay down just prior to possession hearings, unreasonable arrears, in order to avoid mandatory grounds
- better protections for landlords where tenants are illegally subletting properties.
Many landlords take security deposits at the beginning of a tenancy. The Tenant Fees Act limits the maximum amount which can be taken as a deposit to five weeks' rent in most cases. There still remain concerns around the affordability of deposits and that some tenants struggle to access housing because of this.
This has led to a number of tenancy deposit alternative products entering the market. These are unregulated products with varying amounts of cover for landlords and tenants.
The UK Government has announced that they will be introducing 'lifetime deposits' to help tenants move around the private rented sector. We are participating in the working group exploring how this scheme will work.
- Deposit schemes need to work for both landlords and tenants - it's vital that landlords are confident that they will be able to reclaim any damages at the end of the tenancy.
- It's important that landlords have the full protection of the deposit throughout the duration of the tenancy - any schemes to effect 'deposit passporting' between tenancies should not disadvantage the landlord from making legitimate claims on the deposit.
- Equally, any such schemes should be designed so that tenants are not disadvantaged in applying for tenancies due to a perceived higher risk.