Renters Reform Bill – the government provides more details

The government says it will deliver what it sees as ‘the biggest change to renters law in a generation’, in a bid to improve the lives of millions of renters by driving up standards in the private and socially rented sector.

A “new deal” will be put in place for the 4.4 million households privately renting across England by extending the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time.

According to Number 10, these reforms will build on the progress the government has already made in this area, and ensure all renters have access to secure, quality homes, levelling up opportunities for the 21% of private rented who currently live in what the government says are “homes of an unacceptable standard”.

New measures will also aim to protect tenants, delivering on a manifesto commitment. The so-called ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions – that allow rogue landlords to terminate tenancies without giving any reason – will be outlawed, so renters can remain in their homes and communities.

The government claims that more than a fifth – 22% – of those who moved in the past year did not end their tenancy by choice.

Together the government claims that these reforms will help to ease the cost-of-living pressures renters are facing, saving families moving from one privately rented home to another an estimated £1,400 in moving costs, although it is not clear where they got that figure from.

The Bill will, it is claimed, also strengthen landlords’ grounds for repossession making it easier for them to evict tenants who are wilfully not paying rent, or who are repeatedly engaging in anti-social behaviour.

Tenants in social housing will also benefit from major reforms to the sector – at least that is the intention.

The Social Housing Regulation Bill will make all registered social housing providers subject to a tough new regulatory regime, with failing social landlords facing unlimited fines if they fail to meet the standards expected of them.

Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe and cold homes, powerless to put it right, and under the threat of sudden eviction.

“The New Deal for renters announced today will help to end this injustice, improving conditions and rights for millions of renters.

“This is all part of our plan to level up communities and improve the life chances of people from all corners of the country.”

It has also been confirmed that a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman will be created to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court.

The ombudsman will cover all private landlords letting properties and make sure that when residents make a complaint, landlords take action to put things right.

The Bill will also introduce a new property portal to help landlords understand their obligations, give tenants performance information to hold their landlord to account, and help councils crack down on poor practice.

The government will shortly publish a White Paper setting out more detail on our proposals for landmark reform in the private rented sector and will continue to work with the sector to develop the Renters Reform Bill.

Social renters

The Social Housing Regulation Bill will continue to deliver on the government’s reforms in response to the Grenfell Tower fire as we reach the 5th anniversary of the tragedy. It follows on from the Building Safety Act and last year’s Fire Safety Act.

The Social Housing Regulation Bill will create a robust regulatory framework that will drive up the standards of social housing accommodation and help tenants and the Regulator hold social housing landlords to account.

It will:

+ Create new, tough regulations for better social housing – helping tenants to hold shoddy landlords to account.

+ Give the Regulator stronger powers to enforce action if they see failings by social housing landlords.

+ Place an expectation on social landlords to place tenants’ concerns at the heart of all they do, with effective resident engagement in place, so no one has to live in sub-standard social housing.

+ Provide greater transparency for tenants on how their landlord is performing, how their homes are managed and who is responsible for compliance with health and safety requirements.

+ Strengthen the economic regulation of the social housing sector, increasing protections for tenants’ homes and supporting continued investment in the new supply of social housing.

 

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6 Comments

  1. AcornsRNuts

    ‘21% of private rented who currently live in what the government says are “homes of an unacceptable standard”.’  I challenge the government to prove this.  After nearly thirty years in lettings, I can count on one hand the number of properties we refused to advertise because of their poor standards.

    ‘Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe and cold homes, powerless to put it right, and under the threat of sudden eviction’. Gove is talking out the wrong end again.  They cannot be SUDDENLY EVICTED. There is a long and often drawn out legal process to go through before HIGH COURT BAILIFFS can evict them.  The man is a bigger fool than he looks.

    “The government claims that more than a fifth – 22% – of those who moved in the past year did not end their tenancy by choice.”  Would that include those given notice for rent arrears, anti-social behaviour etc? Again, I have known of less than ten given S21 notice and those were, with one exception, so the landlord could sell or move back in. The exception being when the management company contiually complained about a tenant smoking illegal substances in the communal lifts. Gove is pandering to the lowest common denominator and Polly Bleat would would proud of him.

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  2. A W

    Extending the Decent Homes Standard to the PRS… because HHSRS & Fitness for Human Habitation (Homes) Act 2018 were all a figment of my imagination?

    Where is the government getting its numbers from… Shelter?!

    What utter stupidity.

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    1. AcornsRNuts

      Probably.  Certainy not from any REPUTABLE source.

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  3. Jonathan Rolande

    “New measures will also aim to protect tenants, delivering on a manifesto commitment. The so-called ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions – that allow rogue landlords to terminate tenancies without giving any reason – will be outlawed, so renters can remain in their homes and communities.”

    Who’s wording is ‘rogue landlords’?

    Surely sending a legal 2 month reminder informing a tenant that their fixed term is coming to an end doesn’t make you rogue?

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  4. KByfield04

    It is widely known that standards are of much greater concern (at scale) in the Social Housing sector than in the PRS yet, disappointingly, the legislation aimed at SH appears considerably diluted compared to the PRS.

    Over 90% of tenancies are ended by tenants (see NRLA’s recent open letter to Shelter) so where the 22% comes from I do not know.

    £1400 moving costs appears a figure plucked from thin air. With average rents around £1k per month and tenancies rarely overlapping by more than 1 week and the vast majority of renters moving personally (i.e. not using professional movers) I would argue that this cost is unlikely to exceed around £500- and that is per household so as a cost per individual tenant this is likely closer to £150-200.

    S21’s are not evictions, they are a procedural document- and issuing one for any reason (other than a retaliatory eviction) does not mean you are a rogue landlord.

    The portal, if done right, could be a good tool and could align with proposals developed over the last 5-6 years within the industry for a ‘Property MOT’ style compliance checker.

    An ombudsman for private landlords not using agents (which let’s not forget is approx 1m or 50%) sounds like a very good thing- although why this can’t be delivered by the existing TPOS/PRS offerings I do not know- perhaps they will be able to tender for it!?

    Anything to improve S8’s is welcome but let’s see what the details are.

    The sooner we can see the White Paper and greater detail to all of these proposals the better!

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  5. LRC10

    The Government claims “more than a fifth – 22% – of those who moved in the past year did not end their tenancy by choice.”

     

    What absolute rubbish, landlords want good tenants to remain as long as possible.

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