Our regular round-up of news items for you, and hot off the press is the historic key proposals of Michael Gove’s much awaited White Paper.
First details of radical rental reform measures announced by the Government
Michael Gove’s department for levelling up has released his long-awaited for White Paper, giving full details of the biggest shake-up of the rented sector for 30 years. The Renter’s Reform Bill will be introduced before next March. So what does it propose?
- Outlawing ‘blanket bans’ by agents or landlords on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits
- For the first time, ending the use of arbitrary rent review clauses, restricting tribunals from hiking up rent and enabling tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes. This will make sure tenants can take their landlord to court to seek repayment of rent if their homes are of an unacceptable standard
- Making it easier for tenants to have pets in their homes by giving all tenants the right to request a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot ‘unreasonably refuse’.
- All tenants to be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies, meaning they can leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change. A tenancy will only end if a tenant ends or a landlord has a valid reason, to be defined in law.
- Doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified
- Giving councils stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders, backed by enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offences.
There are some measures in there to keep landlords happy:-
- A new Private Renters’ Ombudsman to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court
- Ensuring responsible landlords can gain possession of their properties efficiently from anti-social tenants and can sell their properties when they need to.
- Introducing a new property portal that will provide a single front door to help landlords to understand and comply with their responsibilities as well as giving councils and tenants the information they need to tackle rogue operators.
Michael Gove, the Housing Minister, says:-
For too long many private renters have been at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who fail to repair homes and let families live in damp, unsafe and cold properties, with the threat of unfair ‘no fault’ evictions orders hanging over them. Our New Deal for renters will help to end this injustice by improving the rights and conditions for millions of renters as we level up across the country and deliver on the people’s priorities.
We will have to see what the act comes up with because, as usual, the devil will be in the detail.
Click here to read what Ben Beadle of the NRLA and other industry leaders have to say.
Government warned to lay off buy to let landlords
A leading tax and advisory consultancy has asked the government to take care to ensure that responsible buy-to-let landlords are not burdened with so much regulatory red tape and costs, that could force them to sell up, leaving the housing market short of homes to rent.
Heather Powell who is Head of property & construction at the firm says
Any reduction in the number of homes to rent is bad news for the UK economy as affordable accommodation is essential if employers are going to fill the 1.295 million job vacancies reported at the end of March 2022.
It is critical that the government ensures that the [upcoming] Renters Reform Bill, does not reduce the supply of good, safe rental properties any further.
She goes on to say that average rents have increased and some renters are really struggling to find good affordable housing. The number of rental homes has almost halved since 2019. She admits whilst the Renters Reform Bill should be supported she insists that decent landlords still need to be protected. You can read more here.
Landlords to adapt communal areas for disabled tenants
The government want to make it a ‘duty’ for landlords to deal with reasonable requests from disabled tenants to make communal spaces outside their homes more accessible. A consultation on the proposals has been launched by equalities minister Kemi Badenoch who says the government wants to ‘switch on’ legislation originally passed in 2010 within the Equality Act. She says:-
Our intention is to enable a disabled person to require a landlord to make reasonable physical changes to communal spaces outside the disabled person’s home – including outside areas, entrances, hallways, landings and stairwells – so they can more easily use them.
This duty will apply where a disabled person has identified the need for an adjustment and has made a request to the landlord. This is in addition to an existing duty to allow disabled tenants and occupants to adjust their private dwellings where this was reasonable.
This move is not without its challenges and she goes on to say:-
There have been challenges to reaching the point where these provisions can be implemented in England and Wales, as the government has needed to take account of burdens, costs and other priorities, but I am delighted that we have now reached a point where implementation of the provisions can soon proceed.
Views on these likely burdens and costs are being sought from landlords from all housing sectors, managing and letting agents, local authorities and experts.
They are being asked to answer 18 questions on communal area accessibility and the consultation will run for the next ten weeks.
Full details of the consultation, including how to contribute, are on the DLUHC government website.
You can read more here.
Newsround will be back next week.