To read the newsletter; MHCLG PRS Newsletter (mailchi.mp)
To subscribe to the newsletter; MHCLG – PRS Newsletter (list-manage.com)
|Dear colleagues, We’re delighted to be able to send you the first edition of the new Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Private Rented Sector newsletter.|
Many of you have said that you would like more regular updates on what Government is doing to reform the private rented sector, and we hope that these newsletters will provide you with those insights. We will aim to share the key headlines from our work programme as it progresses, particularly as we develop a White Paper as promised in this year’s Queen’s Speech.
We have already had the pleasure of meeting some of you but wanted to take the opportunity to introduce ourselves to those who we haven’t been able to speak to yet. We are Caroline Crowther and Charlotte Spencer, Directors (job share) for Leasehold and Private Rented Sector at MHCLG. We joined MHCLG last year after working across Government on a range of policy issues such as disability and employment, child poverty, legal aid, and on EU & international negotiations. This move has allowed us to fulfil a long-held ambition to work on housing given its importance to absolutely everyone and its role as a key plank of people’s wellbeing.
The past 18 months has been a strange and difficult time. As you know, a number of legislative changes were quickly introduced to offer protection to social and private tenants by delaying when landlords could start court proceedings to evict tenants and preventing bailiffs from serving notices and carrying out evictions. Appreciating the pressure placed on landlords, other tenants and local communities, notice periods for the most serious cases were dropped and restrictions on bailiff enforcement have now been lifted in line with improved public health situation and the easing of national restrictions.
We worked with the judiciary to put in place new court arrangements that seek to ensure appropriate support to all parties alongside a new mediation pilot. We published new guidance on the possession action process for tenants and landlords, which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-the-possession-action-process-guidance-for-landlords-and-tenants.
We would like to thank you for your support and ongoing engagement during this period.
Moving forward, we are excited to progress our work on renter reform. We are particularly excited to hear your thoughts on how government can achieve its aim of developing a private rented sector that works for everyone and have planned a programme of engagement over the coming months to allow us to support conversations between you and our ministers.
Our recent round tables on the shape of the reform programme and tenancy reform were lively and engaging sessions and we’ve included the minutes in newsletter so you can see the range of issues we discussed (more details below).
We want to gather as much feedback as possible from you on how you think the PRS works, including examples of what’s going well in your local authority area or with your stakeholder groups, as well as where the situation is more difficult. You can reach the team at our inbox PRSStrategyandEngagement@communities.gov.uk.
We are really looking forward to talking with many of you at our PRS roundtables and in other forums, staying connected on all things private rented sector – there is and will be much to share!
Caroline and Charlotte
|Delivering a Renters’ Reform White Paper|
White papers are policy documents produced by the Government that set out their proposals for future legislation. Our Renters’ Reform White Paper will set out ambitions for the PRS, including meeting the Government’s manifesto commitment to delivering a better deal for renters while ensuring landlords continue to have the tools and confidence they need to operate. This includes:
Abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and reforming landlords’ rights to regain their property when it is fair and reasonable to do soIntroducing a new ‘lifetime’ deposit to ease the burden when tenants choose to moveAlso, Bringing forward proposed reforms to drive improvements in standards in rented accommodation, including by ensuring all tenants have a right to redress, andExploring the merits of a landlord register to ensure well targeted, effective enforcement that drives out criminal landlords
Work is currently underway to develop these proposals, and it is important for us to ensure that new policies and interventions are shaped and sequenced in ways that have maximum effect when they are introduced.
This is why we’re organising a series of round table events which will allow our minister, Eddie Hughes MP, and senior officials to learn from your experience to inform the development of the reform programme. In June, we held our first session, sharing information about our ambition for the renters’ reform agenda, while hearing the views and key priorities of stakeholders representing the diverse make up of the sector.
At the second roundtable we discussed some of the detail of Tenancy Reform, and heard views on the challenges and opportunities faced in reforming tenancy structure and grounds for possession. As you might expect, stakeholders put forward a range of views at each of the roundtables, but many expressed support for learning from the experience of the last year particularly with regard to implementing longer notice periods for tenants and putting in place more support to allow landlords and tenants to mediate to overcome difficulties.
At the latest roundtable, we discussed options for a Lifetime Deposit model. There was broad agreement amongst stakeholders on the principle for a lifetime deposit model, but there is some further thinking to do around ensuring that a potential solution will work to support the wide range of renters in the market and that it is easy to understand and use.
We’ve attached the minutes from the sessions below.
The next roundtable will be on 15 September on the topic of Dispute Resolutions.
We are shaping the invite lists to make sure that discussions are manageable, but that they also provide opportunities for a wide range of stakeholders to attend and contribute, particularly where they have an interest in a specific aspect of PRS reform. If we are unable to invite you to attend then we still strongly welcome your thoughts and contributions and encourage you to get in touch with our team to discuss how best to do this.
We’re particularly keen to hear from the voices that matter the most – tenants and landlords in the PRS. Some of you have already offered to facilitate user group engagement and we are currently working with you on potential ideas, including running webinars, focus groups and surveys. In the meantime, please get in touch with us at PRSStrategyandEngagement@communities.gov.uk if you have more ideas on reaching tenants and landlords.
Minister Hughes is also very keen to engage directly with many of you through outreach visits across the country over the summer – keep an eye on this space for information on upcoming visits!
| Other Updates |
Lifetime Deposits User Working GroupThe Queen’s Speech announced the Government’s proposal for a new ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposit model to ease the burden on tenants when moving from one tenancy to the next, helping improve the experience of those living in the private rental sector.
We have therefore established a Lifetime Deposits User Working Group comprising representatives from the sector including agent, tenant and landlord representative groups, to provide industry expertise on ‘lifetime’ deposit solutions. PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), who were procured through an open tender, will also be working closely with the Department and the User Group over the Summer to help build potential lifetime deposit models.
We held the first meeting on 1 July where the work programme on lifetime deposits was discussed, and we will be working closely with the User Group as work progresses over the Summer.
Funding for Intelligence Database subscriptionMHCLG has made funding available to allow one year’s subscription to the Intelligence Database (IDB) for those districts in England who are not yet members.
The IDB is an online platform which allows local authorities to share intelligence about a business or person of interest. Local authorities can use the IDB as a central intelligence source for a wide range of housing enforcement investigations, when considering issuing a first penalty to ensure that the business or individual has not already been issued with a first penalty by another local authority and also to fulfil their duties under s14 of the Tenant Fees Act (TFA) to notify relevant authorities when taking or withdrawing enforcement action.
The National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) are facilitating IDB training and access, and would be grateful if you could forward this letter to your contacts within your local districts, asking that they contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Landlord Register discovery phaseAs part of exploring the potential merits of a landlord register, we are procuring an external supplier to conduct an 8-10 week ‘Discovery Phase’ across September-November 2021. This phase will involve user research including interviews with a range of stakeholders to identify the needs of different users and will produce proposals for how some of the issues identified could be solved. We will provide more information on this in due course or as this work progresses
A Fit and Proper Person test for mobile (park) home site owners comes into forceMobile homes are an important part of the housing sector offering homes to over 85,000 households, most of whom are elderly and vulnerable.
The Government is committed to improving the sector and the lives of all residents.
As part of that commitment, Regulations were made on 23 September 2020 to introduce a fit and proper person test for site owners or managers of residential mobile home sites.
The first part of the Regulations came into force on 1 July 2021. From that date local authorities had to be ready to receive and process applications from site owners.
Site owners will have until 1 October 2021 to submit an application to be assessed and placed on a local register of fit and proper persons. The register will be published online by each local authority.
Local authorities can charge fees to cover the cost of carrying out their fit and proper functions but must publish a fee policy before doing so.
Non-statutory guidance on the implementation of a fit and proper person test for mobile home park site owners and setting a fee policy are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobile-homes-fit-and-proper-person-test-guidance-for-local-authorities
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) Review The HHSRS is the tool used to assess hazardous conditions in all residential property. It’s particularly used by local authorities as the enforce standards in the private rented sector. An HHSRS assessment identifies whether one or more of the 29 HHSRS hazards are present in a property – these range from common hazards like falls, fire, excess cold to less common hazards like radon gas or legionella. The HHSRS assessor will then establish how serious the hazard is. If it’s at the most serious ‘category 1’ level, the local authority has a duty to take enforcement action, which ranges from a legal notice informing the landlord of the hazard, a notice requiring works are carried out or even the prohibition of all or part of the property. For very serious hazards local authorities can carry out works themselves.
The HHSRS hasn’t been updated in over 12 years and landlords, tenants and local authorities say it is complicated and inefficient to use. We’re now 10 months into our two-year review of the system which is exploring how to simplify it, how to implement minimum standards for some hazards and the development of digital solutions for inspecting properties.
|Renters’ Reform Roundtable 23 June 2021:|
Tenancy Reform Roundtable 27 July 2021:
Lifetime Deposits Roundtable 18 August 2021: