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Queen’s Speech announces Government housing and homelessness legislative plans

Em Morley - May 11, 2022

As part of the Queen’s speech, the Government has unveiled the legislative measures planned for the next parliamentary year.

The plans include:

  • Legislation to make the streets safer, which a Government consultation suggests will replace the Vagrancy Act and could be used to criminalise people sleeping rough
  • Reintroducing the Renters’ Reform Bill, which will scrap Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.
  • Regulating social housing to strengthen rights of tenants and ensure better quality social homes.

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, comments: “This Queen’s speech provides some hope for renters anxious about being turfed out of their home in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis and recognises the urgent need to address poor quality social housing with tenants’ voices at the heart of this reform.

“But let’s be clear, this speech gives with one hand while taking with the other. The plan to introduce legislation that has the potential to criminalise anyone forced to sleep rough is nothing short of shameful and flies in the face of any effort to tackle rough sleeping for good. What’s more, we need urgent action to pull struggling families back from the brink.

“We cannot end homelessness with this mismatched plan. The Government must take action to provide direct support to families hit by the cost-of-living crisis and plans to introduce punitive legislation must be scrapped, if the Government wants to truly end rough sleeping for good.”

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has also responded to the confirmation in the Queen’s Speech that the Government will bring forward its planned Renters’ Reform Bill to abolish Section 21 repossessions.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA, comments: “We welcome the Government’s acceptance that reforms to the rented sector need to strengthen the ability of landlords to tackle anti-social tenants and those with repeated rent arrears. We will continue to work to ensure that these and other grounds for possession are fair and workable.

“Whilst we support proposals for an Ombudsman to cut the number of possession cases needing to go the court, this cannot be a substitute for proper court reform as well. At present it can take almost a year for a private landlord to repossess a property through the courts where they have a legitimate reason to do so. This is simply not good enough.”

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, comments: “We can’t level up without dramatic improvements to the quality of rented homes. Reforming tenancies and raising standards in the private rented sector are essential first steps towards this so the Government’s recommitment to a Renters’ Reform Bill is hugely important.

“Renters have been waiting three years for the Government to abolish these insidious Section 21 evictions. Finally, legislation looks to be on its way. But we can’t rest until the changes are passed into law. Now it’s the details that matter.

“It is essential that any new tenancy regime reduces the number of unwanted moves and gives renters the confidence to challenge poor practice by landlords.

“The plans also appear to address the desperate lack of regulation of private landlords, with a new ombudsman, a property portal and a requirement to meet the Decent Homes Standard. We need more detail on each, but they are essential measures if private renters are to exercise their rights effectively.”