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Rental reforms are back on the government’s agenda

1-minute read

Mollie Millman

12 May 2021

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Reforms for tenants are firmly back on the government’s agenda following the Queen’s Speech.

The government paused a widespread and permanent reform of the rental market because of the pandemic – although some changes have been introduced due to coronavirus, such as a ban on tenant evictions.

Now the overhaul is back. A policy document will be published by the government in the autumn, in the form of a white paper. This will set out the government’s proposals for future legislation.

In her speech this week, the Queen stated: “We will bring forward reforms to deliver a fairer and effective private rental market in England.”

What are the proposed reforms?

Among the reforms being proposed is a ban of Section 21 notices, which would permanently ban tenant evictions without good reason.

While actual physical tenant evictions were made illegal throughout most of the pandemic, it has still been possible to serve these Section 21 notices.

Also being proposed is a new ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposit model that eases the burden on tenants when moving from one tenancy to the next.

And there’s a drive to improve standards in rented accommodation by ensuring all tenants have a right to redress.

Do the proposed changes need to be fine-tuned?

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, welcomed the government’s commitment to publish a white paper on reforms to the rental sector.

“What is proposed amounts to some of the biggest changes in the private rented sector for over 30 years,” he said.

“We urge the government and all others in the sector to use the time they now have to ensure that the reforms are fair and workable for both tenants and landlords.”

He said that this must include comprehensive grounds upon which landlords can legitimately repossess properties, the development of a new tenant-landlord conciliation service to help sustain tenancies wherever possible, and court reform to ensure possession cases are dealt with much quicker than the year or more currently being taken.

He added that lifetime deposits give tenants the opportunity to reduce the upfront cost of renting, but they need to work for all concerned.

“We welcome also the government’s ambitions to drive out bad landlords from the sector without penalising those who do the right thing. We want to root out all those who bring the sector into disrepute,” he said.

Meanwhile, Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager at Propertymark, added: “With the focus of the new package on lifetime deposits, landlord redress and greater enforcement, the government must look at ensuring that a system that would allow deposits to be passported can only take place if there is a bridging loan – with the government as the guarantor – in order to ensure the remaining part of the deposit is covered should the tenant default.”

What do you think about the proposed changes to the rental sector? Let us know in the comments below.

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