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The government has today published its long-awaited rental reform white paper, which includes measures to encourage pet ownership and scrap Section 21 evictions.
Read on to find out what’s included in the white paper, when the measures could be introduced, and what it means for landlords.
The government has described the proposed reforms as the biggest change to law for tenants and landlords in a generation.
Most of the measures included in the “Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper” were announced last month as part of the Queen’s Speech. However, a new headline policy making it easier for tenants to keep pets has also been included.
Here’s an overview of the main reforms:
More measures have been announced, such as:
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The announcement that it’ll be easier for tenants to keep pets was unexpected as it’s not previously been mentioned as a rental reform.
However, in recent years there have been various attempts by MPs to stop landlords from being able to refuse animals in rental properties.
It’s estimated that just seven per cent of landlords advertise their properties as being pet-friendly, and the government says would-be pet owners are being “unfairly deprived” of the companionship of having an animal.
The Cats Protection charity estimates there are one million households who would like to own a cat but can’t because they rent.
Meanwhile, the latest research from The Deposit Service shows that not being able to keep a pet is the most common reason for tenants moving between properties.
This year, almost a third (30 per cent) of tenants who moved home said they did so to accommodate a pet, rising from seven per cent last year and making it the most common reason for moving.
The introduction of rental reforms have been delayed several times due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, earlier this year they were put back on the agenda when they were included in the government’s Levelling Up White Paper and the Queen’s Speech.
Plans to end Section 21 evictions and introduce an ombudsman for the rental sector have been around since 2019, while the government has been carrying out a review of the Decent Homes Standard since November 2020.
The government says it’s hoping to introduce a Renters Reform Act before March 2023.
Before then, it’s likely there will be consultations and the measures will need to be approved in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
The government’s plans to strengthen possession grounds for landlords, speed up the court process, and improve access to mediation are all helpful, according to Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association.
However, he said the details that follow must “retain the confidence of responsible landlords, as well as improving tenants’ rights”.
He added: “We will be analysing the government’s plans carefully to ensure they meet this test. A failure to do so will exacerbate the housing crisis at a time when renters are struggling to find the homes they need.
“The eventual legislation needs to recognise that government actions have led to a shortage of supply in the sector at a time of record demand. It is causing landlords to leave the sector and driving up rents when people can least afford it.”
Meanwhile, Housing Secretary Michael Gove commented: “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’ eviction 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.”
It’s important for landlords to read the government’s white paper to get a full understanding of all the proposals and how they’ll work.
For some landlords, the reforms could mean needing to revise their tenancy agreements or listing policies, while others may have to make improvements to their properties.
A professional letting agent or legal specialist in the rental sector could help you to identify any changes you’ll need to make and answer your questions about how the reforms could affect you.
More details on all of the measures are likely to be released in the coming months as the proposals start making their way through Parliament. Keep an eye on our Knowledge centre for regular updates.
What are your concerns about the government’s plans for rental reforms? Let us know in the comments below.
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