Industry News Meera Chindooroy 28/10/2021

Rental reform white paper pushed back to 2022

The UK Government has this week confirmed that its planned white paper on rental reform has been pushed back to 2022.

At the Queen’s Speech in May this year, it was announced that, ahead of a future Renters’ Reform Bill, the Government would be publishing a policy white paper this autumn. The white paper would cover possession reform – including the abolition of Section 21 and reform of Section 8 – mandatory redress for landlords, the merits of a landlord register, lifetime deposits and improved enforcement. In short, the biggest changes to the private rented sector for a generation.

Over the summer and into the autumn, the NRLA has been engaging with the – now – Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in their policy discussions on these issues. This has included meeting with civil servants as well as our chief executive, Ben Beadle, sitting on a roundtable group chaired by the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Eddie Hughes MP.

Alongside this, we published – and sent to Ministers – our own proposals as a ‘shadow white paper’ – A New Deal for the Private Rented Sector.

The announcement that the Government's white paper is delayed comes after the Cabinet reshuffle earlier in the autumn led to a new Secretary of State, Michael Gove, as well as a new name for the former Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The Government has said the delay will allow time to continue working with stakeholders like the NRLA on developing their proposals, as well as taking into account the forthcoming National Audit Office review of regulation in the sector.

What has the NRLA called for?

Our proposals are based on engagement with our members, and aim to provide a balanced approach to the needs of landlords and tenants.

High on our agenda for possession reform are changes to the Section 8 grounds, to ensure landlords can be confident they can regain possession when they have legitimate reasons to do so. Hand in hand with this, we are calling for reforms to the courts, and the introduction of a new conciliation model, to help resolve disputes during the notice period, and avoid the need for a court hearing wherever possible.

Alongside this, we have welcomed the potential of a redress scheme which could, together with compliance records linking to Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs), not just negate the need for a landlord register, but also potentially offer an alternative to discretionary licensing.

Central to our proposals is a commitment to enforcement – with central government boosting funding to local authorities, as well as an assessment of the ability of local authorities to utilise their current powers and a review of existing legislation to take the opportunity to consolidate and streamline it so it is clearer for all parties.

Finally, we put forward two proposals to meet the Government’s ambitions for lifetime deposits for tenants – helping them move between tenancies more easily. These are a financial bridging facility for a short period, or a specialist ISA, similar to a Help to Buy ISA, with protected funds which can be used as a security deposit, and eventually towards buying a property if the tenant chooses to move from the private rented sector.

What will happen next?

We will keep pushing our proposals with the UK Government as the work on developing their white paper progresses. The ministerial roundtables will continue over the coming months. You can share your views on our proposals via our website, and keep an eye out for more detail to come in the weeks and months ahead.

Meera Chindooroy

Meera Chindooroy Deputy Director of Campaigns, Public Affairs & Policy

Meera is Deputy Director of Campaigns, Public Affairs & Policy at the NRLA. She joined the National Landlords Association (NLA) in May 2018, having previously worked in both policy development and project management for a range of not-for-profit and public sector organisations. Meera provides political insight both internally and for NRLA members, and lobbies in their best interests. Meera has extensive experience of building partnerships with stakeholders across communities, civil society and government, as well as developing collaborative approaches to policy challenges.

Prior to joining to the NLA, Meera provided policy and engagement support to the chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, the UK’s biggest community funder. She also developed strategic policy at the General Medical Council, the regulator of doctors in the UK.

See all articles by Meera Chindooroy