Posts with tag: Renters' Reform Bill

Renters’ Reform Bill ‘recommendations’ report published by Lettings Industry Council

Published On: May 31, 2022 at 8:26 am


Categories: Landlord News,Lettings News,Tenant News

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The Lettings Industry Council (TLIC), formed by industry stakeholders from across the Private Rented Sector (PRS), has formed a report that makes practical and workable recommendations based on the expected changes to be introduced in the Renters’ Reform Bill.

The aim of the report is to help the Government understand what can work in practice and to encourage a PRS that works for all. It was released on 25th May 2022.

The report considers what changes could be made to aid the abolition of Section 21 notices. It also looks at improvements to the court process, ways to improve property conditions, and how to help those locked in tenancies and unable to move due to financial constraints.

Some of the report’s key recommendations include:

  • Every tenancy should have a written tenancy agreement in place or at the very least a written Statement of Terms. In the absence of either of these, the Government’s model tenancy agreement should be used as the default agreement.
  • A review of the accelerated procedure is needed to reduce the listing of PRS claims and prioritise these cases so they can be taken out of the system without delay.
  • Clarifying the route for dealing with abandonment cases, enabling a process without recourse to the court to further reduce unnecessary court cases where a tenant has clearly already left the property.
  • Prioritising cases with high or persistent rent arrears, dropping review hearings, and employing more judges will further reduce the workload and strain on the courts.
  • Mediation should be a recommendation in all cases, other than where there is evidence the tenant cannot afford to pay the rent. Costs can be kept to a minimum and could reduce court hearings by up to 25%.
  • Government should consider its own bond/loan solution or finance local authorities to issue their own bond guarantees. This option could be available solely for tenants on Universal Credit and/or in receipt of specified benefits to ensure that the deposit problem is specifically targeted to the right demographic.
  • By embedding use of the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) within the Renter’s Reform Bill discrete data points across different existing public and private databases can be joined together. Property safety records can be captured and collated within a property portal, to form one comprehensive safety record delivering a safe property at low cost. A property portal linked to a landlord redress scheme will ultimately provide a Landlord Register enabling direct communication with landlords and education on property safety, legislation and better remote enforcement. 
  • A Regulator for Regulation. The sector is like a puzzle with lots of pieces that need to be joined up. A regulator would tie all of the pieces together. Tenants need one portal door to enter, which then signposts where they need to go.

Commenting on the recommendations in the reports, Theresa Wallace, Chair of The Lettings Industry Council (TLIC), comments: “Each year, in an attempt to combat some of the issues experienced in the private rented sector, including sub-standard properties, rogue and naïve landlords, and untrained agents, more and more legislation has been introduced, confusing even diligent landlords with the complexities in providing a rental home.

“So far, these changes to legislation, which often come at a financial cost to the landlord, have just compounded the problems further and is a core reason given for why landlords are exiting the sector, leaving a shortfall of available rental properties.

“As a result, in 2022 we are experiencing the biggest crisis we have seen surrounding the shortage of rental property.  We need to encourage investment into the market and that includes private landlord investment.

“The Renters’ Reform Bill provides a once in a generation opportunity to improve the lives of Renter’s.  However, in order to achieve maximum impact and create true strategic change, we believe it is crucial to phase in these significant changes in a considered manner over a period of time, avoiding unexpected unintended consequences which only hurt those we are seeking to protect the most – tenants. 

“This report seeks to find a balance between encouraging investment in the sector to increase available homes and ensure they are of consistent good quality through natural supply and demand competition.”

Queen’s Speech announces Government housing and homelessness legislative plans

Published On: May 11, 2022 at 9:20 am


Categories: Law News,Tenant News

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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.”

Landlords concerned about eviction options and renters face homelessness as PRS awaits eviction reform

Published On: September 29, 2021 at 8:09 am


Categories: Landlord News,Tenant News

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A lack of eviction options that will be available after the abolition of Section 21 notices remain a worry for landlords, says Intus Lettings.

500 British landlords were surveyed about the 2019 Renters’ Reform Bill, which proposes the abolishment of Section 21 eviction notices. Only 18% said they outright opposed the abolition of Section 21. However, many raised concerns about the best ways to protect themselves and their properties in the future, dubbing the proposals ‘craziness’, ‘absurd’ and ‘the worst thing that could happen to landlords’.

Hope McKendrick from Intus Lettings said: “Landlords’ key worries are that they will be left powerless to regain control of their properties in the event of a non-paying or poorly behaved tenant. They want to retain ultimate control of their own property and are concerned that the Renters’ Reform Bill will make this harder.

“We understand these concerns, however, at Intus Lettings we don’t believe that the Bill needs to create a panic for landlords. Experience tells us that the key to successful tenancy agreements lies in thorough vetting of tenants and using a quality agent to manage the rental process and we found that almost half of landlords we spoke to used an agent to manage their lettings.

“With over 2.6 million private landlords in the UK, the property lettings sector is large and the Government will need to properly listen to their voices as it finalises its proposals.”

Generation Rent has looked at the current level of evictions as the private rental sector (PRS) awaits the eviction reform. It has found that more than 40,000 households in England have been threatened with homelessness by landlords using ‘no-fault’ eviction grounds in the two years since the government promised to abolish Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act.

As the Government develops its White Paper on the PRS, Generation Rent is calling for measures that allow renters to challenge evictions when the landlord wishes to sell, and provides them with financial support if forced to move for reasons outside their control.

Generation Rent has found that between April 2019 and March 2021, councils dealt with 557,030 cases of homelessness, of which 91,710 were private tenants facing eviction. Of these, 44,040 households were facing eviction due to their landlord selling up, re-letting or evicting following a complaint by the tenant. This figure represents 0.9% of England’s 4.7m private renter households.

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said: “Being forced to move for reasons outside your control creates unimaginable stress, uproots you from your community and disrupts children’s education. Right now, landlords need no reason to inflict this on their tenants. The government has rightly committed to the abolition of Section 21 evictions, but this is too late for the thousands of renters who have faced homelessness while the reforms have been delayed.

“To give renters the security that everyone should expect from their home, the government must make sure that the use of new eviction grounds for sale is minimised and landlords who force their blameless tenants out provide adequate financial support.”

Landlords will still be able to use a Section 8 notice to evict tenants if they have broken the terms of the tenancy. An outline of the Bill’s proposals is set to be released in autumn 2021.

Two years have passed since Government pledged to end ‘no-fault’ evictions

Published On: April 16, 2021 at 8:23 am


Categories: Law News

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This week saw the two-year anniversary of the Government making the decision to end Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions in the private rental sector.

According to a survey commissioned by Generation Rent, 8% of respondents have received a Section 21 eviction notice since March 2020, which would represent 694,000 private renters in England. 

32% of those surveyed are concerned they will be asked to move out this year, which would represent 2.78m private renters across England.

To support renters in their calls for change, the Renters Reform Coalition has been formed – a broad group of 20 leading charities, think-tanks, housing and renter organisations, who are committed to ensuring that private renters have a safe, affordable and stable home, where they can live and flourish.

The coalition has formed to ensure that the Government lives up to its promise and brings forward plans for a redesigned system that better serves the nation’s millions of private renters.

The Renters’ Reform Bill, announced in the last Queen’s Speech, outlined the Government pledge to end ‘no-fault’ evictions as well as making further changes to the private rental sector.

The Renters Reform Coalition outlines its recommendations for the Renters’ Reform Bill and beyond in the adopted policy principles on its website. These principles call for the necessary reforms needed to end ‘no-fault’ evictions and deliver stability, affordability and safety for renters.

Sue James, Chair of the Renters Reform Coalition, says: “Private renters face high rents, poor living conditions and perpetual instability. This causes needless disruption to people’s lives: their finances, work, health and their children’s education. Renters need certainty to enable them to put down roots in communities and create real homes in rented properties.

“Having been a front-line legal housing advisor for many years I have seen the difference that good quality, secure housing can make to people’s lives. We need to see people’s homes as more than just terms in a contract.

“The breadth of organisations that have come together to form the coalition highlights the importance of this issue. It is essential that reform of private renting is a key part of the government’s plans to improve the housing system. The Renters Reform Coalition has formed to ensure that the government keeps its promise. We welcome the opportunity to work with the government to create a renting system that is fair and fit for the future.”

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said: “A Section 21 notice pulls the rug out from under you. As long as the landlord serves it correctly, you have to move out. That means very few tenants challenge it in court. And because landlords don’t need a reason for eviction, it also means that many tenants live in fear of losing their home and families throughout England have no confidence to put down roots in their local area.

“Renters have been waiting two years for the government to make good on its promise to ban these unfair evictions. If it weren’t for Section 21, 700,000 renters would not have faced an unwanted move during a pandemic and millions more would have confidence to plan their lives.”

New Coalition calls on Government to end unfair evictions in England

Published On: December 16, 2020 at 9:05 am


Categories: Law News,Tenant News

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19 leading organisations supporting private renters have formed a new Coalition. The Renters Reform Coalition is calling on the Government to deliver a fairer housing system for private renters.

The Coalition is made up of national housing charities, campaigners, renters unions, advice centres and think tanks. It is calling on the Government to use the upcoming Renters’ Reform Bill to end Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions, improve the condition of privately rented homes, and create a system within which renters feel empowered to stand up for their rights.

It states that the pandemic has brought to light the flaws in the UK’s housing system and that everyone needs a safe, affordable and secure home, where they can live and flourish.

The Government’s ban on evictions comes to an end on 11th January. The coalition is calling for the Government to extend these protections to renters under tier 2 and 3 restrictions and keep tenants safe for the duration of the pandemic.

The Coalition wants to work with Government and others to ensure that the Renters’ Reform Bill redesigns the housing system and ensures all renters have access to a safe, affordable and secure home, where they can live and flourish.

Bridget Young, Programme Manager at the Nationwide Foundation, said: “The Government has pledged to end Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions, and one year ago we welcomed its plans to reform private renting in the upcoming Renters’ Reform Bill.

“This bill is an opportunity to redesign our housing system, creating a fairer balance between renters and landlords. Implemented correctly, these reforms are also a chance to improve the safety, security and condition of privately rented homes.

“We are looking forward to working with the Government and other partners, to take this opportunity to deliver a more just housing system. The Coalition is a broad group but we are united in our belief that everyone needs a safe, affordable and secure home, where they can live and flourish.”