No-fault evictions are to be banned as part of government plans to “end the injustice of unfit homes and help protect renters from the rising cost of living”.
The Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper is designed to ensure millions of families benefit from living in decent, well-looked-after homes as part of the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in 30 years.
The White Paper says most tenants enjoy safe and secure rentals, but for the 21% of private renter households who currently live in unfit homes, this ‘New Deal’ will extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private sector.
This means homes must be free from serious health and safety hazards, and landlords must keep homes in a good state of repair, so renters have clean, appropriate and usable facilities.
So-called ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions – that allow landlords to terminate tenancies without giving any reason – will be outlawed. More than a fifth of private renters who moved in 2019 and 2020 did not end their tenancy by choice, including 8% who were asked to leave by their landlord.
Other landlord law changes
These are some of the key points from the White Paper:
- outlawing blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits
- ending the use of arbitrary rent review clauses, restricting tribunals from hiking up rent and enabling tenants to take their landlord to court to seek repayment of rent if their homes are of unacceptable standard
- making it easier for tenants to have pets in their homes by giving all tenants the right to request a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse
- all tenants to be moved on to a single system of periodic tenancies, meaning they can leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change
- a tenancy will only end if a tenant ends it or a landlord has a valid reason, defined in law
- doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified
- giving councils stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders, backed by enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offences.
The government insists there will also be improvements for landlords.
There will be a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman, who will enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court.
It will also be made easier for responsible landlords to gain possession of their properties from anti-social tenants.
Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “While the majority of private rented homes are of good quality, offering safe, comfortable accommodation for families, the conditions of more than half a million properties – or 12% of households – pose an imminent risk to tenants’ health and safety, meaning around 1.6 million people are living in dangerously low-quality homes, driving up costs for our health service.”
The measures form part of the Renters Reform Bill as announced in the Queen’s Speech, to be introduced in this parliamentary session.
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