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What is described as a “new blueprint for renters” has been published in a Government White Paper by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The policy document, entitled “A fairer private rented sector, ” is designed to redress the balance between private landlords and the tenants of more than 4.4 million properties.
Section 21 procedure to be abolished
Among the most significant changes proposed is the long-heralded abolition of the Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction procedure, to be replaced with “a simpler, more secure tenancy structure.” Legislation will also end blanket bans on accepting benefit claimants or tenants with children. And landlords will have to consider requests to allow pets.
No-fault eviction is already banned in Scotland for newer tenancies, while the Welsh Government has announced that no-fault-eviction notice periods will be extended to six months by the end of 2022.
Recognising that these proposals will ring alarm bells among landlords at a time when there is a huge shortage of rental property, the Government say they will overhaul grounds for possession to ensure that landlords have effective means to gain possession of their property where necessary.
The White Paper says that it is the Government’s ambition to ensure:
- All tenants should have access to a good quality, safe and secure home.
- All tenants should be able to treat their house as their home and be empowered to challenge poor practice.
- All landlords should have information on how to comply with their responsibilities and be able to repossess their properties when necessary.
- Landlords and tenants should be supported by a system that enables effective resolution of issues.
- Local councils should have strong and effective enforcement tools to crack down on poor practice.
Housing charity, Shelter, has described the White Paper as a “game-changer”. Chief Executive, Polly Neate, said:
“The Renters Reform Bill is a game-changer for England’s 11 million private renters. Scrapping unfair evictions will level the playing field. For the first time in a long time, tenants will be able to stand up to bad behaviour instead of living in fear. Gone will be the days of families being uprooted and children forced to move school after being slapped with a Section 21 no-fault eviction for no good reason.”
But the message from organisations representing landlords is that the Government must ensure these changes do not worsen the housing crisis.