After a four-year wait and lots of speculation, a wide-ranging plan to overhaul the rental sector was finally presented to Parliament this week.
The Renters’ Reform Bill includes changes to eviction laws, the creation of a Private Rental Ombudsman to resolve disputes and measures to speed up the existing court process.
The bill will now be scrutinised by MPs and members of the House of Lords, so is subject to change.
But here’s a brief rundown of the proposals as they stand and what they mean for landlords.
If, after reading it, you’d like to have a more detailed conversation about the implications for your rental portfolio, contact us here at Sacha Scott.
The change that has grabbed the most headlines relates to the rules on evictions. In a nutshell, Section 21 and ‘no-fault’ evictions will be axed and Section 8 strengthened.
This means landlords will have to give a reason for evicting a tenant. Under the beefed-up Section 8 rules, there are 17 official grounds for possession.
These include if:
- The landlord wants the property back to live in or make available to a family member.
- The landlord wants to sell.
- The landlord wishes to redevelop the property (this must be at least six months after the start of a tenancy).
- The tenant has breached their tenancy agreement.
- The tenant has been in serious rent arrears.
- The tenant’s conduct has caused a deterioration of the property.
- The tenancy was granted due to a false statement.
Why landlords don’t need to panic
Understandably, there has been anxiety in the industry about the abolition of Section 21. However, you will still be able to repossess your property should you wish to sell up or redevelop, but you’ll have to go about it in a slightly different way.
Also, note that the bill reduces the notice period for landlords evicting irresponsible tenants and makes it easier to evict tenants where missed rental payments are an issue.
Tenants can request to have a pet at the property and landlords cannot unreasonably refuse.
However, tenants must confirm in writing that they have pet damage insurance.
A new Private Rental Ombudsman will be introduced so that landlords and tenants can resolve disputes without having to go down the slow and expensive court route.
For evictions that do end up in the courts, the bill pledges to make more use of digital platforms to cut down delays.
Landlords can raise rents once a year and must give two months’ notice.
End to blanket bans
A landlord cannot have a blanket ban on renting to people with children or those on benefits.
The Government says it hopes the bill will become law before the next general election. And even when it does, there will be at least six months’ notice before any new regulations come into force.
While the bill does represent change, if you’re a responsible landlord who already takes your duties seriously, it could mean less of a shift than you might think.
The fundamentals of being a good landlord, such as rigorous tenant selection processes, open lines of communication to avoid disputes and maintaining the property to a high standard, still apply.
But we recommend all landlords get up to speed with the new rules and, in particular, the strengthened Section 8 conditions.
Remember, we’re here to help.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with us here at Sacha Scott.