SPRING NEWSLETTER – Renters Reform Bill
The Renters Reform Bill and what it means
I trust you are well and looking forward to some sunshine wherever you are in the World. It has seemed a long wet winter in the UK and I for one am very happy to have been able to put on some shorts and T-Shirts in the past few days!
I wanted to write and provide an update on the market generally as well as a key piece of legislation that I have mentioned previously; namely the Renters Reform Bill that was introduced to the UK Parliament on the 17th May.
GENERAL MARKET CONDITIONS
I will start with general market conditions. The rental market remains strong in the Brighton and Hove and surrounding areas. A combination of a lack of available properties, and the inability to build new properties locally, has continued to ensure that rents remain above national average and I believe this will remain the case for both the short and long term positions. We have seen a little surge in recent notices from tenants, and actually have more properties available than we have for some time, but interest remains high with several applicants interested in available properties being the norm.
Rents have stabilised slightly in recent weeks and we have had to marginally reduce the rent of some available properties but I put this purely down to the simple fact that personal budgets in the UK (and presumably globally) have been squeezed and rents locally remain well above the national average. Fortunately for Brighton and Hove it is an incredibly attractive area of the South Coast with a plethora of people (generally with higher salaries) looking to move to our sunny seaside City making property investment sound financial sense.
This now brings me on to The Renters Reform Bill
I have had quite a few conversations with landlords recently who are genuinely concerned re the new Bill and I have to say there are many misconceptions. These often arise from a simplistic and headline-grabbing approach, generated by the press and broadcasters.
So here are some facts and an overview of the Bill;
- Section 21 will be abolished. This will remove a landlord’s right to serve 2 months notice to a tenant without reason and the landlord’s right to issue possession proceedings, should the tenant fail to leave.
- Fixed term assured shorthold tenancies are to revert to assured periodic tenancies only. The likelihood is that a tenant will be able to have a minimum 6 month tenancy term, as it currently is under law.
- With Section 21 being abolished landlords will have stronger rights under Section 8 of the Housing Act to gain possession of their properties if tenants default on rent or break tenancy terms. This will include consistent rent arrears or antisocial behaviour as well as if the landlord wants to sell or move back in. You will be able to still recover possession of your property!
- The government has stated its intention to introduce a package of “wide-ranging court reforms that will target the areas that particularly frustrate and hold up possession proceedings”.
- Potentially there will be a requirement for landlords to register with an Ombudsman so that tenants have a legal route for resolution.
- There is a possibility that a Privately Rented Property Portal will be created which will provide tenants and landlords alike with a clear understanding of whether their property is compliant with all current legislation.
- Pets; this is perhaps, excepting the scrapping of section 21 notice, the most controversial part of the new legislation. The Bill states that landlords can no longer unreasonably refuse a tenants request to have a pet. The key parts of the legislation show that tenants will have to have adequate insurance or pay the landlords reasonable costs to ensure against damage. There is much to be debated as frankly if I want to have a Shetland Pony in a one bedroom flat is it unreasonable to be rejected?! There will be head leases to consider (many blocks of flats prohibit pets) but there will now be an onus on landlords to communicate their decision and reasons to tenants if they formally request to have a pet.
Much of the above is already written into tenancy law and frankly I often wonder as to why the UK Government does not use the vast amount of legislation it currently has available, as opposed to introducing new legislation to an already heavily regulated sector. However we have to work with what we have and much of the new legislation will have very little effect to the sector due to the simple fact that there is a shortage of rental accommodation, specifically in the region where we are located.
I will be keeping a close eye on the Bill and will provide firm details when more are known due to the Bill’s passage through both the House of Commons and House of Lords before it comes into law. No doubt there will be lots of amendments to the Bill during this time. I am no expert in the Parliamentary system but my best guess is that it will take a minimum of 6 months and more likely closer to 12 months until this happens. It is also important to stress that even when the Bill is passed into Law not all measures will immediately apply – basically there will be stages of when certain aspects become ‘live’ for want of a better term.
I appreciate there is a lot of information to consider and if you have any questions or queries then please do not hesitate to contact me.