Renters’ Reform Bill in focus

Despite the initial negative focus, the Renters’ Reform Bill received in some media, where some put landlords under the spotlight, there are proposals that bring good news too. It had been uncertain how the removal of Section 21 would be dealt with, but proposals to ease the process of tenants in repeated arrears and further proposals to assist landlords where tenants have criminal or severe anti-social behaviour are welcome.

There is also proposed new ground for landlords who wish to sell their property and to allow landlords and close family members to move into a rental property.

The white paper states that government intends to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and deliver a simpler, more secure tenancy structure. According to the white paper, landlords will only be able to evict a tenant in reasonable circumstances, which will be defined in law, supporting tenants to save with fewer unwanted moves. In place of section 21, the white paper says the government will reform grounds of possession so that they are comprehensive, fair, and efficient, striking a balance between protecting tenants’ security and landlords’ right to manage their property.

Regarding the proposed, new mandatory ground for repeated severe arrears eviction will be mandatory where a tenant has been in at least two months’ rent arrears three times within the previous three years, regardless of the arrears balance at the hearing.

There will also be grounds for criminal behaviour or severe antisocial behaviour and the length of notice is proposed to be two months in circumstances beyond a tenant’s control, such as the landlord selling, with less notice required for rent arrears and serious tenant fault.

The government also intends there to be a single system of periodic tenancies and will abolish fixed terms and the white paper says that all tenants who would previously have had an Assured Tenancy or Assured Shorthold Tenancy will move to a single system of periodic tenancies and that tenants will need to provide two months’ notice when leaving a tenancy. These new periodic tenancies will have to be in writing.

At Pennington we don’t see this as an issue for our landlords who charge a fair rent and provide a good service and if anything will help flag up poor landlords as they won’t have tenants who are locked in to fixed terms.

There is also reference to the anticipated changes to EPCs in PRS properties where it states that the aim for a C grade by 2030 is now “where practical, cost-effective and affordable.’

These are still just proposals, of course, but they give some insight into the Government’s thinking and with an intended start date of March 2023, plans will need to be firmed up over the coming months.

I will keep you updated and as always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like any further information on this or anything else in the local housing market.