NEWSLETTER JUNE 2022: The Renter Reforms Bill
Renter reforms and what it means for landlords
Greetings to you all from a very sunny and warm Brighton and Hove as I type this. I hope you are well wherever you are in the World.
This newsletter is to primarily update you on the now released Government White Paper for what will likely become The Renters Reform Bill.
The paper ‘A fairer private rented sector’ can be found in full here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1083378/A_fairer_private_rented_sector_web_accessible.pdf
As previously advised the changes could be quite extensive but primarily it is intended to improve standards in the private rented sector for condition of properties and to change ways of giving notice by abolishing Section 21 which gives you the right to give 2 months’ notice to a tenant without reason.
Having studied the document in some detail I think the main changes that may affect you, our clients, are;
- The abolition of section 21 notices meaning that you will now need to have a good reason to give tenants notice. They will include new clauses under Section 8 procedure to allow you to give notice to sell the property or to return to live in it for you or your family. You will absolutely still be able to recover possession if the tenant defaults on rent or causes anti social behaviour.
- They will work with The Courts and Tribunal service to target areas where there are unacceptable delays in Court proceedings.
- Fixed term contracts will be abolished meaning that tenancies will start on a periodic basis – month to month – with the tenant now having to give 2 months’ notice to vacate which is actually fairer as currently you must give 2 months with the tenant only having to give 1 month.
- Councils will be given funds to enforce a ‘Decent Homes Standard’ for rented accommodation. This is a sensible approach and actually I am confident we, and also our colleagues at RDA for many of our overseas clients, do not manage a single property on your behalf that would not already meet this standard. Having been an elected Councillor at a local Council I find it staggering that with the condition of their own housing stock the Social sector is not mentioned here but I will leave the politics out of this newsletter!
- A new single Ombudsman for the Sector will be introduced in the hope that disputes between landlord and tenant can be more effectively resolved without the need for costly Court proceedings – generally for the landlord!
- The tenant will have the right to request having a pet which the landlord must consider and not unreasonably refuse. This point has me scratching my head somewhat – what if a tenant requests a horse, or snake?! The devil will be in the detail. Many leases in in converted and purpose built buildings prohibit pets and so I am sure they will not be able to alter every buildings lease so I am interested to know this will work in practice.
- The Government are looking into ways of how tenants may be able to ‘passport’ deposits when they vacate properties as finding a deposit is one of the largest outgoings for tenants moving. This is the most ambiguous of the stated aims and I find it difficult to imagine how, before a check out is complete, a new landlord will take a tenant not knowing whether the full amount will be transferred over for the damage deposit.
Please be advised that the above is only a real snapshot of the very extensive document and I will of course provide further updates in due course. I urge you to take the time to read the document.
The changes may have a positive impact on the sector such as;
- You will still be able to recover possession of your property and, if they do invest in the Courts, then this may even be a quicker process if a tenant defaults.
- They will make it fairer between landlord and tenant in terms of how much notice a tenant needs to give.
- Good quality dispute resolution may mean that minor disputes can be ironed out quickly for both parties.
I still cannot help but feel that the 140 + pieces of legislation that currently Govern the sector, if properly enforced, would already do 99% of what this paper sets out to do and that really the Government is calculating that there are more tenants than landlords and they are simply ‘vote chasing’. However this is my cynical mind working after 8 years as a local Councillor and I will wait for when the legislation starts going through the House of Commons before passing real judgement.
In terms of timescales we are most certainly at least a year off this coming to pass as law so I expect many twists and turns along the way and changes to proposals.
I hope you have found this summary helpful and, as ever, if you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact me.