Renters’ Reform Bill publication sends the PRS ‘back to the Dark Ages’

Renters’ Reform Bill publication sends the PRS ‘back to the Dark Ages’

8:48 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago 85

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The long-awaited government plan to overhaul the private rented sector (PRS) with the publication of the Renters’ Reform Bill has been condemned as ‘going back to the dark Ages’.

The government says that more than 11 million tenants in England will now enjoy safer, fairer and higher-quality homes thanks to the introduction of the ‘ground-breaking’ Bill.

It adds that the legislation is a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity that meets the government’s 2019 manifesto commitment.

That’s when the Tories promised to abolish section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and give renters the power to challenge ‘bad’ landlords without fear of losing their home.

But Neil Patterson, the managing director of Property118 slammed the law’s publication and said: “There’s nothing for landlords to rejoice about – this law will take the PRS back to the Dark Ages.”

‘Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes’

Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, said: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them.

“This government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a New Deal to those living in the Private Rented Sector; one with quality, affordability, and fairness at its heart.”

He added: “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.”

New bill also protects more than two million landlords

The government says the new bill also protects more than two million landlords, making it easier for them to recover their properties when they need to.

This means landlords can sell their property if they want to, move in a close family member or deal with tenants who refuse to pay rent.

The new law will strengthen powers to quickly evict anti-social tenants by widening the disruptive and harmful activities that can lead to eviction.

There will also be a reformed courts process which will be largely digitised to help ensure the new tenancy system works for everyone.

‘Government’s pledge to ensure landlords can swiftly recover properties’

The chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), Ben Beadle, said: “We welcome the government’s pledge to ensure landlords can swiftly recover properties from anti-social tenants and those failing to pay their rent.

“Plans to digitise court hearings will also improve the speed at which legitimate possession cases are processed.”

He adds: “The NRLA will continue to work with the government to ensure the detail of the Bill is fair for responsible landlords and tenants alike.”

Quicker and cheaper resolutions to disputes

There’s also a new Ombudsman planned that will provide quicker and cheaper resolutions to disputes.

Plus, landlords will get a new digital Property Portal to understand their obligations and help tenants make better decisions when signing a new tenancy agreement.

The government says this will give confidence to good landlords while driving the criminal minority out of business.

Legal right to request a pet in their home

The new Bill will also enable tenants to have the legal right to request a pet in their home – which a landlord must consider and ‘cannot unreasonably refuse’.

That means landlords will be able to require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property.

The Bill will also:

  • Apply the Decent Homes Standard to the PRS for the first time, giving renters safer, higher quality homes and remove the blight of poor-quality homes in local communities. This will help deliver the government’s Levelling Up mission to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030.
  • Make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children – ensuring no family is unjustly discriminated against when looking for a place to live.
  • Strengthen councils’ enforcement powers and introduce a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity – to help target criminal landlords.

The government says the Bill is a key part of the government’s mission to level up across the country and follows the wider housing reforms in the Social Housing Regulation Bill and Building Safety Act.

These address the systemic issues identified following the Grenfell Tower tragedy on improving the safety and quality of social housing and how tenants are treated by their landlords.

‘The Renters’ Reform Bill is a huge opportunity’

Dan Wilson Craw, the acting director of Generation Rent, said: “The Renters’ Reform Bill is a huge opportunity to improve the lives of the 11 million people who now rent from private landlords in England.

“Arbitrary Section 21 evictions make it impossible for tenants to put down roots and report problems about their home with confidence.

“Abolishing them will take away much of the stress of renting and improve communication and trust between tenants and landlords.”

He added: “The new Property Portal and Ombudsman have the potential to make it much harder for criminal landlords to operate.

“These reforms wouldn’t be happening without the tireless campaigning of members of the Renters Reform Coalition and thousands of renters over many years.

“We look forward to reading the Bill and working with ministers and Parliamentarians to make sure the legislation achieves what it sets out to do.”


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Comments

student landlord

7:08 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago

Whilst these announcements will quite rightly worry a lot of landlords and inevitably reduce the supply of PRS accommodation, unless they announce more when it is revealed, it could be worse. For student landlords like myself the main concern was the end of fixed term tenancies. This would have completely ruined the established business model and would wreak havoc within the student accommodation sector. So far there has been no mention of this and it’s possible that it has been dropped from the proposals and if that’s the case it shows that the government did at least listen to some of the feedback during the consultation process (however unlikely that seems!)

student landlord

7:13 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago

Regarding the right to have pets, I and many other landlords already permit this and simply insist on either taking a larger damage deposit or putting in place a written agreement that the tenant agrees to deep clean the property at the end of the tenancy. If they walk away from this responsibility at the end then costs can be claimed from the deposit but in my experience all my pet owning tenants have been very reasonable and responsible. It tends to be cats and small animals in cages. Tenants find that they are turned down for rescue dogs if they live in an HMO due to it not being an appropriate home so that responsibility is taken away from the landlord by animal charities

paul robinson

7:27 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by York student landlord at 17/05/2023 - 07:08
How do you plan to keep on using block tenancies without the vehicle of S21, if needed? I have/had young professionals group HMO and this clueless incompetent government have trashed a well established, fair and affordable rental business - since 2019 public consultation they have continued to gas light HMO landlords & i honestly believe they will continue to do so - pure disgusting incompetence & not fit to govern

Dylan Morris

7:42 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by York student landlord at 17/05/2023 - 07:13
So how do you take a larger deposit when the max is 5 weeks rent ?

student landlord

7:49 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by paul robinson at 17/05/2023 - 07:27
Agreed. Thankfully in 25 years I’ve never had to evict. However totally understand how weighted the system is, how frustrating it has been and how much worse it is going to get. I’m certainly not condoning the bill- I agree with everyone on here that it will make life incredibly more difficult for landlords and tenants

student landlord

7:54 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Dylan Morris at 17/05/2023 - 07:42
As a student landlord I’m quite soft when it comes to deposits and I’ve been taking the same amount for the past 25 years. Maximising it to 5 weeks rent would should cover the cost of damage from a pet providing a full inventory is taken showing the condition of carpets and furniture on check-in. Especially for those of us who let to a group of tenants on one AST as they all have joint and several liability. I understand of course that a single person or couple having a pet in a house can potentially cause a lot of damage and the inevitable result of giving tenants a blanket right to keep pets is going to cause a lot of grief for landlords. In the current climate I think a lot of tenants will be thinking long and hard about the cost indications of having a dog anyway

The Barefoot Landlord

8:14 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago

Totally agree but isn't that the plan and not incompetence. Btl is on its way out and this is the government rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Speaking as a Welsh landlord looking in!

Alison Floyd

8:49 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by paul robinson at 17/05/2023 - 07:27
Agreed. As a responsible HMO landlord, taking away s21 will take away our ability to deal with problem tenants. Instead of being able to act swiftly to protect the interests of the many great tenants we have, this will allow the problematic tenants to ruin the house for everyone else living there and ruin the business for us. I also hope the guidelines regarding pet ownership will be treated differently in HMO’s from single family dwellings too. A HMO is not an appropriate environment for pets where communal areas are shared. What about the rights of other tenants in the same house who have animal allergies? Also taking away the ability to adjust rents to take account of rising energy costs or similar is a massive risk to the business when rents in HMO’s are all inclusive. All in all, the bundle of changes announced in this bill thus far have forced us to take the decision to sell up. Lock stock and barrel. The whole lot can go. We offer good homes to great tenants and these changes will only make things worse for them. Supply of rooms will dry up, demand for rooms will go up and therefore so will rents. The people we let to are not in the market as first time buyers. They want short term, good value accommodation that takes them from university into first and second jobs and they want to be mobile so they can progress and move to next jobs in new areas quickly without the hassle of property ownership and mortgages. This bill is nothing but a disaster for them and for us. Well done Michael Gove.

Clive

8:54 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by York student landlord at 17/05/2023 - 07:49
Your day will come..and you will shake your head in disbelief at this new law

Brian Strickland

9:06 AM, 17th May 2023, About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Dylan Morris at 17/05/2023 - 07:42
e paid for by the tenant.

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