Renters Reform Bill worse than feared

Renters Reform Bill worse than feared

10:26 AM, 18th May 2023, About A year ago 65

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It is only a Bill and has just been published but the Renters’ Reform Bill appears at first sight worse than many have feared. All tenancies are to become periodic, meaning landlords will have no security of income and student landlords in particular will find the tenants will not pay for the summer holidays.

One massive change is that currently section 21 notices cannot be served if the tenancy deposit has not been properly protected with an authorised scheme and the prescribed information given unless and until the deposit is returned to the tenant. That rule did not apply to Section 8 notices. Now it is proposed that except in cases of antisocial behaviour: “ the court may make an order for possession … only if the tenancy deposit is being held in accordance with an authorised scheme.”

The tenant must also have been given the Prescribed Information in the required form. So even if the ground for eviction is rent arrears, damage to the property or that the landlord wants the property back to live in himself, he may fail if the deposit paperwork is not in order.

When landlords eventually get to court tenants will be able to ambush them with a technical defence because, for example, the wrong clause number was referred to in the Prescribed Information or there was some other minor error. The safest course will be to return the deposit to the tenant which is really to add insult to injury and it will be a bold landlord who seeks a section 8 eviction without professional help. So much for Mr Gove’s statement today about being able to evict more quickly tenants who are “persistently and deliberately evading their responsibility to pay their rent”.


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Comments

Barbaracus

11:12 AM, 18th May 2023, About A year ago

Disagree with this article.

If you are not doing things right in the first place (serving the correct paperwork etc) then it's your own fault if the eviction gets quashed.

That's your own fault, no one else's.

Ian Narbeth

11:22 AM, 18th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Barbaracus at 18/05/2023 - 11:12
That's a ridiculous argument. A minor mistake by a landlord should not mean that a legal claim for the most egregious conduct by a tenant should be defeated. The mistake may have no bearing on the tenant. The proposal is grossly unfair. Moreover, it has not been the legal position until now.

Barbaracus

12:06 PM, 18th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 18/05/2023 - 11:22
Again disagree.

Basically you're saying that it should be okay for Landlords to make minor mistakes with their paperwork (who defines what is minor?) and there should be no repercussions.

If you get your paperwork right there is nothing to worry about.

If you're not confident about getting it right, give it to an agent (if they get it wrong there should be some compensation) or stop being a Landlord.

Ian Narbeth

12:17 PM, 18th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Barbaracus at 18/05/2023 - 12:06If you can be perfect then you have nothing to worry about!
However, if you make a minor mistake (e.g. one that has no relationship to the other party's default) then are you prepared to accept the consequences? Suppose you lost a day's pay for turning up to work a minute late or had your claim for wrongful dismissal thrown out because you said your employment started on the 2nd June 2005 when in fact it was the 3rd? To quote you: "If you get your paperwork right there is nothing to worry about."
Suppose a builder does shoddy work. Should he have the claim thrown out because a stage payment was made a day late?
Most people have a concept of fairness and proportionality. You want to hold landlords and agents to an extreme standard which certainly does not apply to tenants nor to most other areas of life.

If you want repercussions then the tenant can counter-sue if the landlord's mistake caused him any loss.

JamesB

22:46 PM, 18th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Barbaracus at 18/05/2023 - 11:12I actually disagree with you.
The courts are a bit rubbish. I nearly lost a s21 claim at hearing because the tenant's solicitor and the judge did not know the law. How is that even possible? The opposing solicitor was very arrogant and the judge was patronising. If I hadn't held my nerve and eventually got the judge to look something up I would have been back to the beginning after over a year of waiting to get back a house from a non paying house trasher. So, I won, as I always do, but also lost because the whole experience told me that it is well and truly time to stop being a landlord after 27 years and hundreds of tenancies.
My compensation for the court system's errors and this particular experience? Not even an apology. However, if I dotted an "i" wrong I should be massively penalised? Nah, mate, not happening.

Caroline Hall

11:35 AM, 19th May 2023, About A year ago

Wrong clause number in prescribed info? Mystified as to what you mean I thought prescribed info was 1) EPC, 2) Gas certificate 3) Electrical certificate and 4) The Booklet on Right to Rent or whatever its called

Yvonne Francis

11:41 AM, 19th May 2023, About A year ago

Hi Ian, I must take you to book for your comment 'student Landlords in particular will find the tenants will not pay for the summer'. Is this not the least of students Landlords problems?

I would not mind nine or even less months contract if it was fixed. One could simply charge accordingly, so students would know when to look and when to leave. This bill is the death rattle for student accommodation in the PRS. But I'm sure you know all the arguments on this.

The only solution I've found so far is to consider putting my houses with a University agent. I have spoken to the manager of Brookes University who claim the student houses they have will be excempt from this bill and considered University Accommodation. Landlords lease their houses to them. That I guess is one of the differences? I would get less money but may sleep better at night!

Beaver

11:59 AM, 19th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Barbaracus at 18/05/2023 - 12:06
Unless reciprocity exists in the system (i.e. the system is fair to both landlord and tenant) that is exactly what people are going to do; stop being landlords. If the risks are so high that a minor error could result in you not getting your property back for a year this will dissuade small landlords from renting out their properties and encourage them to exit the market. It will mean that for many small landlords who could potentially let out their properties for a short period they will just not be prepared to take the risk. And that will exacerbate the problems of supply of accommodation that the market is presently experiencing.

Ian Narbeth

12:00 PM, 19th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Caroline Hall at 19/05/2023 - 11:35Caroline
The Prescribed Information Form (PIF) has to include certain information. From the DPS's template this includes: Circumstances when all or any part of the deposit may be retained by the Landlord: Refer to the following Clause(s) [please insert relevant clause reference below] of the Tenancy Agreement.
If you get the clause number wrong, perhaps because the tenancy changes and the landlord or agent forgets to update the PIF then the PIF is defective. It is bad enough that a trivial mistake like that may scupper a s21 claim. It will be monstrous if a tenant, owing thousands of pounds of arrears, can "send the landlord back to Go" by raising this technicality but that is what the Bill allows.

Seething Landlord

12:01 PM, 19th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Caroline Hall at 19/05/2023 - 11:35
The prescribed information in this context is the information that must be provided in relation to the tenancy deposit and its protection.

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