White Paper: “A Fairer Private Rented Sector” (*but will it be scrapped?)
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has introduced a White Paper, “A Fairer Private Rented Sector”, which proposes significant changes to the private rented sector in England by way of a “12-point plan of action”. In proposing various changes to the system, the Government intends to tackle issues of inadequately heated, unsafe and unhealthy properties privately tenanted to individuals. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-fairer-private-rented-sector/a-fairer-private-rented-sector
The “12-point plan of action” includes the following proposed changes:
- Require privately rented homes to meet the Decent Home Standards.
- Accelerating quality improvements in the areas that need it most.
- Abolish the Section 21 “no-fault” evictions under the Housing Act 1988.
- Reform grounds for possession so that Landlords can gain possession of their properties where necessary under Section 7 of the Housing Act 1988.
- Allow increases to rent only once a year.
- Strengthen tenants’ ability to hold their Landlord to account by introducing a new single Ombudsman that all private landlords must join to.
- Deal with unacceptable delays in the Court proceedings.
- Introduce a Property Portal to provide information to tenants, landlords and local councils.
- Strengthen local council’s enforcement powers by providing Local Authorities with the power to issue “Civil Penalty Notices” to Landlords where offences relating to the proposed tenancy system are committed.
- Legislate to make it illegal for landlords/agents to have a blanket ban on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits.
- Give tenants the right to request a pet in the property, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
- Develop the innovative market-led solutions to passport deposits.
The Government intends to introduce the proposed changes by way of two stages with a period of 12 months between each stage:
Stage 1, New Tenancies: From the first implementation date, of which Landlords will have 6-months’ notice, all new tenancies will be periodic and governed by the new rules.
Stage 2, Existing Tenancies: From the second implantation date, all existing tenancies will be governed by the new rules. As such, the proposed changes seek to have a retrospective effect in that any tenancy agreements already in place will be subject to the new rules.
The intention to move towards a single system of periodic tenancies, and to only allow Landlords to evict tenants where eviction is necessary (as opposed to by way of Section 21 “no-fault” evictions) could see potentially significant changes for our Landlord and Student Accommodation Clients.
However, as the Bill has not yet passed through the legislative process in the Houses of Parliament, there remains uncertainty as to whether all or indeed any of the proposed changes will in fact be implemented and if they are, when.
Should the proposed changes be implemented, private residential landlords will need to consider how they can protect their position. And what changes need to be made to their tenancy agreements to ensure protection and compliance with the new rules. Protecting the Landlord’s position will include considering how Landlords can remove an unsuitable tenant in circumstances where a Section 21 “no-fault” eviction is abolished. Compliance is going to be crucial to avoid being subject to any enforcement action for failure to comply.
There is now further doubt however, as the Government is under pressure to support individuals in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis. Rumours have been circulating this week as to whether the proposed changes will be implemented. Speculation suggests that the Prime Minister has concerns as to whether the changes will in fact contribute to growth or not. Is the Prime Minister going to scrap the White Paper and focus on alternative plans to deal with the crisis regarding the cost of living? It is currently unclear.
We are closely monitoring the progress of the White Paper and will provide updates in due course.
If you would like to discuss the proposed changes and/or receive any advice in respect of specific implications, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0333 200 5200 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to assist.