The reforms that could change the game for landlords and tenants
May 26, 2023
An overhaul of housing laws is in motion. The government has introduced a bill - the Renters’ Reform Bill - that signals the end of one significant aspect of the legislation: the ‘no fault’ eviction.
Known as ‘Section 21’ this provision has been the go-to for landlords that want to take back their property from assured shorthold tenants. The tenant doesn’t have to have done anything wrong; a landlord can simply issue a Section 21 notice and have the tenant evicted, subject to certain timescales. The tenant may have grounds for challenging the action, but most landlords are very aware of the legal requirements of a valid notice and so the chances of avoiding eviction are usually pretty slim if all the correct procedures have been followed.
The government says that its reforms will enable 11 million tenants in England to ‘benefit from safer, fairer and higher quality homes’, and that abolishing Section 21 evictions will ‘empower renters to challenge poor landlords without fear of losing their home’. At the same time, the government says, the Bill ‘also protects over two million landlords, making it easier for them to recover properties when they need to’.
Aside from removing the ‘no fault’ element, other planned changes include:
Reduced notice periods where tenants have breached their tenancy agreement or otherwise behaved irresponsibly.
Digitisation to help speed up the process of evictions being dealt with by the courts.
A new Ombudsman to help resolve disputes.
A new digital Property Portal will provide information to landlords and tenants, so that they understand their responsibilities and can make the best decisions.
Tenants are to have a legal right to request to have a pet, and the landlord can’t unreasonably refuse.
In a bid to improve the quality of housing provision, the Decent Homes Standard will be extended to the private rented sector (it currently applies to the social rented sector).
It will be illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants who receive benefits or who have children.
Councils will have strong powers of enforcement and will have to report on their enforcement activity.
It is hoped that removing Section 21 will take away the immediate threat of an arbitrary eviction. However, there is a fear in some quarters that the number of rental properties will decrease as landlords decide that the new regime doesn’t suit them.
We shall have to wait and see. Indications are that the Bill may become law by the end of this year, so there’s still some way to go before the changes take effect. In the meantime, if you are a landlord or a tenant and would like to find out more about how your rights could be affected, or if you have a specific issue to do with housing, contact us on 01264 353411 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Return to News