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Rental Reform – What’s The Big Deal?


The much heralded Renters (Reform) Bill has recently been established, to significant public fanfare, and a flurry of articles.

It builds upon (and some might say looks to reverse) the regulation of the landlord/tenant market within England, with the headline proposal being the removal of the Section 21 “no fault eviction” process.

This is quite the about turn in policy, fundamentally amending the hallmarks of the Thatcherite Housing Act 1988 (as amended), with the current Conservative government now seeking to put tenants at the forefront of legislation, in its abolition of fixed term assured tenancies and the AST. It also intends to impose obligations upon landlords to ensure regulation, and therein the monitoring of them and their performance.

The policy decisions behind this are manifold, but include a desire to protect against the “bad landlord”, provide security for households often perceived to be at risk from frequent moves and insecurity of occupation, and as a side line to reduce the homelessness burden caused by a tales of malicious landlord activity and actions as against individual residential occupiers.

One must of course consider whether this will have any impact at all upon the “good landlord”, and one which wishes to run a marketable and efficient lettings business. One may also consider whether the “bad landlord” would pay any heed to the requirement to register, and to offer themselves up for supervision.

To protect landlord concerns, the Bill does still allow for annual rent increases (to the prevailing market rent in the area), and also introduces new grounds for possession including where a mortgagee requires possession, and importantly where the landlord wishes to take back the property for his/her own or family use.

One must certainly agree that the application of the decent homes standards for the private rented sector is a “good thing”, and making it illegal for blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children cannot be argued against. One does question, however, as to who will be paying for this: whilst there is a strengthening of local authority enforcement powers, how are they going to fund this?

The Bill is of course still making its way through the Houses, and further updates will follow. For the time being, one would suggest that the Bill should be perceived as doing the decent thing, but we will await to see whether the teeth it is intended to have will ever bite.

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