No fault evictions will be banned and pets will be allowed in lets. These are just two of the pledges unveiled in the government’s long-awaited Renters’ Reform Bill published today.
Four years after it was promised, the Bill also includes the introduction of a Decent Homes Standard and an Ombudsman scheme which landlords will have to join.
If it becomes law, the Bill would also make it illegal for a landlord to refuse tenancies to families with children, or those in receipt of benefits.
However some elements of the White Paper, published in June last year have not been included. These include a bid to abolish fixed term contracts and replace them solely with rolling, periodic tenancies and plans to end the use of rent review clauses.
Elsewhere, notice periods will be reduced where tenants have been irresponsible, councils’ enforcement powers will be strengthened and there will be a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity to help target criminal landlords.
The new Bill also protects over two million landlords, making it easier for them to recover properties when they need to – so they can sell their property if they want to, move in a close family member, or when tenants wilfully do not pay rent.
The government says to ensure the new tenancy systems works for landlords and tenants, it will be introduced alongside a reformed courts process. For the minority of evictions that do end up in the courts, more of the process will be digitised which the government hopes will reduce delays.
Outlining the Bill, housing secretary Michael Gove MP said: “Our new laws introduced to Parliament today will support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants, while delivering our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions.
“This will ensure that everyone can live somewhere which is decent, safe and secure – a place they’re truly proud to call home.”
Sheldon Bosley Knight’s associate director, Nik Kyriacou, said: “This will do nothing to help landlords who have seen their returns whittled away over a number of years as a result of legislation and tax changes.
“If the government really wants to help create a fairer private rented sector it needs to ensure supply matches demand by attracting more landlords and in turn, more stock, which at the moment it does not.
“Although section 21 evictions is to be abolished, there do seem to be routes paved by the government to evict tenants with valid grounds such as anti-social behaviour, rent arrears, selling the property, moving back in etc, and in fact, possibly quicker than landlords could before.”