At the beginning of the current session of Parliament in May 2021, the UK Government reiterated its commitment to reform the private rented sector. They have said that they will publish a White Paper – a policy document outlining their proposals for future legislation – in autumn 2021.
The White Paper is expected to set out the Government’s plans for possession reform and the future of Section 21 (so-called ‘no fault’) possession, as well as a broader remit, including exploring mandatory redress for landlords, the merits of a landlord register, and reforms to enforcement.
The NRLA & SWLA have welcomed the Government’s decision to publish a white paper, recognising the significance of the changes for the sector. We are participating, along with other stakeholders, in roundtables chaired by Eddie Hughes MP, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, to discuss the issues which will be raised in the White Paper.
We have now also set out our proposals for the private rented sector, in our report: A New Deal for the Private Rented Sector.
The NRLA & SWLA are calling for:
Clear and comprehensive grounds for possession: There needs to clear and comprehensive grounds upon which landlords can legitimately regain possession of a property for when there has been a ‘fault’, and where the landlord needs to make business decisions such as selling the property, moving in, or making substantial changes.
Improved access to dispute resolution and the development of a new landlord/tenant conciliation service: to prevent, wherever possible, possession cases ending up in court in the first place. Alongside this, for those cases which do proceed to court, reforms are needed to allow them to be heard more swiftly, including greater use of technology to hear cases and ensuring tenants can access suitable advice and support much earlier than they currently do.
A redress scheme for the sector which can improve compliance by linking to the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN). Such a scheme would make the need for a separate national register of landlords redundant. A redress scheme should also be accompanied by a full review to establish if certain types of local landlord licensing schemes are still required.
A review of enforcement: The UK Government should work with local authorities to conduct an assessment of the ability of relevant departments to enforce the wide range of powers already available to them to tackle criminal landlords. Alongside this, central government needs to provide upfront, multi-year funding to held councils build their capacity to tackle bad practice.
Lifetime deposits: It is vital that the new system in no way discourages landlords from making valid claims for damage to properties. Landlords cannot be expected to give up their right of recourse to a security deposit until such time that they are satisfied there will be no need to make a claim against it.
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