A Fairer Private Rented Sector: White paper promises private renters reform

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renters reform
© Viorelkurnosov |

A Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper was published Friday, promising renters reform with greater protections and support for cost-of-living pressures for millions of tenants

The Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper forms part of the Renters Reform Bill, set to be introduced in this parliamentary session. Outlining several protections for 4.4 million private renters, the government claims it is the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in 30 years.

With rents rising at the fastest level for 5 years, the pressure is on the government to offer more support. There are over 1.3 million households with children and 382,00 households over 65 currently renting in the UK, with 21% of private renters and households living in unfit homes.

Renters reform will extend the Decent Housing Standard to the private sector

The conditions of more than half a million properties – or 12% of households – pose an imminent risk to tenants’ health and safety, meaning around 1.6 million people are living in dangerously low-quality homes, presenting further costs for the NHS.

The government’s proposed private renters reform will ensure that landlords must keep their properties in a good state of repair and free from serious health and safety hazards. Enforcement pilots and increasing fines will better enable councils to hold landlords to account.

Ending the use of arbitrary rent review clauses will give tenants greater powers to take their landlords to court to seek repayment of rent if their homes do not meet these standards.

Under the proposed legislation, tenancy will only end if a tenant ends or a landlord has a valid reason, defined in law. A single system of periodic tenancies allows tenants to leave poor quality housing or move more easily when their circumstances change without remaining liable for the rent.

No fault evictions will be outlawed

Section 21 evictions- that allow landlords to terminate tenancies without stating a reason- will be banned under the new legislation.

More than a fifth of private renters who moved in 2019 and 2020 did not end their tenancy by choice, including 8% who were asked to leave by their landlord. New measures will also tackle arbitrary rent increases by doubling notice periods and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge increases if they are unjustified.

No blanket bans on children or pets

The renters reform will prohibit landlords blanket banning taking families with children or people in receipt of benefits, as well as giving all tenants the right to request keeping a pet, which landlords cannot unreasonably refuse.

Providing clarity and support to landlords

The white paper introduces measures to support the 2.3 million private landlords, such as creating a Private Renters’ Ombudsman to settle disputes between landlords and tenants at low cost and avoiding court.

A new property portal will provide the relevant information for landlords, councils and tenants to understand and comply with their responsibilities.

Halving the number of poor-quality rented homes by 2030

Both today’s white paper and last week’s Social Housing Regulation Bill demonstrate the government efforts to achieve its levelling up missions. Levelling up and housing secretary Michael Gove said: “Our New Deal for renters will help to end 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.”

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