New Renting Legislation

Landlords need to be aware of proposed changes to law affecting private rented housing.

The Renters’ Reform Bill?

In what is certain to cause controversy and delight in equal measure, the proposals for the Renters’ Reform Bill were announced in Dec 2019 during the Queen’s Speech.

The proposals affect both landlords and tenants, with the Government looking to create more security and longevity in residential tenancy agreements.

The full proposals can be found on the Government website, however the key takeaways are as follows:

In favour of tenants, the main benefits of the Renters’ Reform Bill would be:

  • Improving security for tenants in the rental sector, delivering greater protection for tenants and empowering them to hold their landlord to account.
  • Improving the experience of those living in the private rental sector and the affordability for tenants when moving from one tenancy to the next by introducing a new lifetime deposit so that tenants don’t need to save for a new deposit every time they move house.
  • Improving standards in rented accommodation, driving out rogue landlords and helping to professionalise the sector, with all tenants having a right to redress if their rented properties are not safe and healthy.
  • Professionalise letting agents, to the benefit of tenants and landlords.
  • Abolishing the use of ‘no fault’ evictions by removing section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and reforming the grounds for possession.

In favour of landlords, the main benefits of the Renters’ Reform Bill would be:

  • Giving landlords more rights to gain possession of their property through the courts where there is a legitimate need for them to do so by reforming current legislation including the Section 8 process. In addition to this the Government will also work to improve the court process for landlords to make it quicker and easier for them to get their property back sooner.

Who would this apply to?

The Bill’s provisions would apply to residential lets in England only.

When will it be implemented?

There is no current fixed implementation date. These reforms have been talked about for a number of months, however it would now appear that steps are being taken to implement them into law.

Contributing factors that have influenced calls for Housing and rental reforms:

  • The English Housing Survey 2017-18 found that the average length of residence in the private rented sector is 4.1 years. An earlier Government consultation on longer tenancies showed that 79 per cent of tenants had only been offered tenancies of 12 months or less.
  • According to the English Housing Survey, around three quarters of private renters paid a deposit at the start of their current tenancy. The Tenant Fees Act, which came into force in June 2019, capped deposits to 5 weeks’ rent where the annual rent is under £50,000 per year.

Is Section 21 being scrapped?

It is clear therefore from the above points that the Government are introducing the Renters’ Reform Bill to assist tenants and offer them greater security and living conditions in rented accommodation. Whilst it is has not yet been implemented, it is clearly only a matter of time until this will effect residential lettings in England.

No date has been set yet for the second reading of the bill (we expect it in 2020) 

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