Further delays to Renters’ Reform Bill

From Robert Ulph on November 8, 2021

I wrote earlier in the year how the Renters’ Reform Bill had been delayed until later this year and now it has been announced that the White Paper will be delayed further, until 2022.

The bill was first announced back in December 2019 at the state opening of Parliament, following the General Election, as part of the Queen’s speech to set out the Government’s plans. It formed part of the Government’s intentions to “enhance the rights of those who rent” and the bill set out to abolish the use of ‘no fault’ evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and reforming the grounds for possession.

Previous delays had been associated with the pandemic, as the Government has stated that “the social and economic terrain needs to be a stable one before this comes.” Then last week in a letter to contributors to the White Paper, the government said the extension would “not only allow us to benefit from continued work with the sector but will also allow us to carefully consider the findings of the National Audit Office’s review of regulation of the sector which is due to report in the coming months”. 

The Bill is seen by many as an opportunity to address some of the problematic areas the sector has, but fundamentally it must be fair to both landlords and tenants. There is support for the strengthening of repossession grounds for landlords under Section 8 where there is valid cause. However, questions do remain specifically about what will replace Section 21, but it is accepted that whether the industry likes this element or not the Government has made a commitment to abolish it, and this has widespread political support. 

Briefing notes have been circulated to letting agents and landlords on some further areas to expect from the reforms and these include:

  • Exploring improvements and possible efficiencies to the possession process in the courts, to make it quicker and easier for both landlords and tenants to use.
  • Considering further reforms of the private rented sector enforcement system so it is well targeted, effective and supports improvements in property conditions, including a set of measures to hold “bad landlords” to account for delivering safe and decent housing to tenants without penalising good landlords.
  • Ensuring that all tenants have a right to redress, and ensuring effective enforcement that drives out criminal landlords, for example exploring the merits of a landlord register and requiring all private landlords to belong to a redress scheme.
  • Outlining proposals for a new ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposit model that eases the burden on tenants when moving from one tenancy to the next.

I will keep you updated on the next stages of the White Paper and as always do not hesitate to contact me for any further information on this or anything else you have questions or need advice on in the property market.