Section 21 and rental reform plans published at last
Proposals outlining the biggest changes to the private rented sector in more than 30 years will be made public by the Government today.
Plans to abolish Section 21 repossessions, so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions were first mooted in April 2019 and now, more than three years on, the Government is publishing its long-awaited white paper on this and its wider plans for rental reform.
The NRLA, which has seen the document ahead of its publications later today, has welcomed Government promises on possession grounds and court reform, but said more detail is needed, particularly as regards a replacement for Section 21.
It has long argued a workable replacement to Section 21 must accompany its abolition – allowing landlords to repossess properties in legitimate circumstances.
This is vital if landlords are to retain confidence in the sector and to continue to provide the homes for rent that the country so vitally needs.
Responding to the 82-page white paper, entitled A Fairer Private Rented Sector NRLA Chief Executive Ben Beadle said: “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.”
What’s included in the white paper?
The long-awaited document sets out Government commitments to:
- Convert Assured and Assured Shorthold tenancies into periodic tenancies, that can be ended by the tenant with two months’ notice and by landlords with a legitimate reason
- Abolish Section 21 and introduce new possession grounds for landlords
- Extend the Decent Homes Standard to the sector
- Create a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman to settle disputes informally
- Introduce a new Property Portal to support landlords – and to provide information on rogues
- Abolish rent review clauses (while retaining the ability to increase rents annually)
- Outlaw blanket bans on renting to families with children or tenants on benefits
- Incentivise landlords to accept tenants with pets
- Reform and speed up the court process.
What’s in it for landlords?
NRLA has successfully campaigned for positive change, with the white paper announcing landlords will be allowed to ask for pet insurance as a condition of tenants keeping animals, something currently prohibited. Landlords will be obliged to consider a tenant’s request to have a pet, but can decline with good reason.
The Government has also committed to reforming the court system and making local authorities more accountable when it comes to housing standards, as well as introducing new mandatory grounds for landlords (or their families) wishing to move back into a property, or sell it.
What happens next?
Over the coming weeks the NRLA will be speaking to Ministers and assessing the wider implications of the plans on landlords and their businesses. It will also be running a series on information events for members and encouraging members to write to your MP over the issues that concern you most.
Following a Ministerial roundtable next month, during which the NRLA can feed back on the white paper the final Renters’ Reform Bill will be tabled. After that there will be numerous hurdles for the bill to pass through as it is considered by MPs and Peers.
Later today, the NRLA will be appearing across national media to discuss the plans and the need to strike a careful balance between greater tenant rights and retaining the confidence of landlords, with chief executive Ben Beadle discussing the proposals and their implications in a Facebook Live broadcast today at 2pm. To watch, just go to the NRLA Facebook page here.
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