A Fairer Private Rented Sector – The Government’s White Paper

The Government has today published their ‘fairer private rented sector’ white paper. It is likely to have a significant impact on the sector.

The long and eagerly awaited white paper sets out the Government’s plans to reform the private rented sector generally and overall housing quality. The proposals will also impact on social housing providers too.

The following are amongst the Government’s new proposals detailed within the White Paper:

  • To halve the number of ‘non-decent’ rented homes by 2030 and require privately rented homes to meet the Decent Homes Standard for the first time. This will involve running pilot schemes to trial improvements to the enforcement of existing standards and explore different ways of working with landlords to speed up adoption of the Decent Homes Standard.
  • Abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and deliver a simpler and more secure tenancy structure. The reforms indicate that fixed term Assured Shorthold Tenancies will be scrapped and new grounds for possession will be introduced.
  • Wholesale reform of grounds for possession.
  • To only allow increases to rent once per year, end the use of rent review clauses, and improve tenants’ ability to challenge excessive rent increases through the First Tier Tribunal.
  • Strengthen tenants’ ability to hold landlords to account and introduce a new Ombudsman that all private landlords must join.
  • Work with the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) to target the areas where there are unacceptable delays in court proceedings.
  • Introduce a new Property Portal to make sure that tenants, landlords and local councils have the information they need i.e. landlord responsibilities, landlord compliance etc.
  • Strengthen local councils’ enforcement powers and ability to ‘crack down’ on criminal landlords.
  • Make it illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits (known as ‘No DSS’).
  • Give tenants the right to request that they can have a pet in their property, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
  • Work with industry experts to monitor the development of innovative market-led solutions to passport deposits.

Alongside the White Paper, the Government have also published their response to the consultation abolishing section 21, the call for evidence on the case for a housing court and the call for evidence on tenancy deposit reform. The key outcomes from those are:

  • The commitment to abolish section 21 as detailed in the White Paper;
  • Not to pursue the idea of a dedicated housing court but instead to offer a range of reforms to simplify the court process for landlords and increase capacity in courts and bailiff appointments;
  • The commitment to continue to develop market innovations to solve or reduce the problem of overlap tenancy deposits and keep proposals under review.

For more information, please contact Donna McCarthyLee Russell or Anna Bennett, Partners in our Housing Management and Property Litigation Team. 

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