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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Government sets out rental reforms to deliver a fairer private rented sector

Government sets out rental reforms to deliver a fairer private rented sector


The reforms include the abolishment of section 21 no fault evictions

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published the details of the reforms set out in the Renters (Reform) Bill, introduced to Parliament on 17 May, which aims to abolish section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and ‘strengthen powers to evict anti-social tenants.’ The government’s press release claims that the reforms to overhaul the housing laws in England will provide eleven million tenants with safer, fairer and better-quality homes.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said the reforms deliver on the government’s manifesto commitment to abolish section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions, the aim of which is to empower renters to challenge poor landlords without fear of losing their home. The new bill also intends to offer greater protection to landlords, by making it easier for them to recover properties when they need to, such as when tenants wilfully do not pay rent, when they want to sell the property, or where they want to move in a family member. Relatedly, the bill will also reduce notice periods where tenants have been irresponsible, which includes instances where a tenancy agreement has been breached or damage has been caused to the property.

Strengthened powers to evict anti-social tenants will also be introduced, through a broadening of the disruptive and harmful activities that can lead to eviction and making it quicker to evict a tenant acting anti-socially.

Alongside the proposed reforms, the government is planning to set up a new ombudsman to provide quicker and cheaper resolutions to disputes, as well as a reformed courts process. A new digital property portal will also be set up enable landlords to understand their obligations and help tenants make better decisions when signing a tenancy agreement.

As part of the bill, the government will also bring forward legislation to: apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time, giving renters safer, higher quality homes and remove the blight of poor-quality homes in local communities; make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children, so no family is unjustly discriminated against when looking for a place to live; and strengthen councils’ enforcement powers and introduce a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity.