What is your take on the recent Renter’s Reform White Paper?
First and foremost it is important to remember that the White Paper is not law and will be subject to the usual passage through both parliamentary houses before that happens. This gives ample opportunity for changes to be made.
We can but guess as to whether a new Prime Minister and Cabinet will have the same enthusiasm for tenancy reform, but in any event change is highly unlikely in the short term.
The Government confirmed that it intends delivering on its manifesto promise to abolish Section 21 evictions. At the same time new and stronger grounds for possession will be introduced making it easier for landlords to gain possession where there are cases of increased rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.
Abolition of these so called “No fault evictions” under Section 21 is understandably of concern to both landlords and agents. The principal of tenants being able to enjoy security of tenure without the constant threat of being asked to leave hanging over them is understandable; however, landlords being able to regain possession when things go wrong or if they wish to – for example – sell, or move back into the property is an important factor in maintaining a healthy private rented sector. It’s useful to remember that implementation of the 1988 Act was designed to encourage landlords into the market, and whilst updating it is long overdue, we don’t want to through the baby… or more accurately… the landlord… out with the bathwater.
We should be encouraged that Government has made positive noises in this regard, hopefully having understood that uncertainty here risks damaging landlord confidence and therefore the supply of much needed property to meet a growing demand. How this will work in practice will be interesting, particularly in relation to landlords looking to sell as this could easily be open to abuse.
Other topics of interest included:
A proposal for an Ombudsman to help reduce the number of possession cases coming before the courts.
An extension to the Decent Homes Standard to improve those homes currently of an unacceptable standard. (Consultation in the summer, covering ventilation, refuse management and water efficiency)
A portal for landlords to better understand their obligations and to log safety certification.
Tenant lifetime deposit solutions are being monitored by Government with a view to considering whether regulatory changes are required at some point in the future.