Headlines from the Queen’s Speech for Private Landlords
Michael Gove, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, have followed up on the Queen’s speech with their intentions in the Renters Reform Bill.
He refers to the fact that 22% of tenants did not end their tenancy by choice”. Of course, the reality is that landlords use the Section 21 Notice so-called “No Fault” or “Accelerated” route (don’t laugh at the word accelerated), because the Section 8 route for rent arrears or anti-social behaviour is even slower and more cumbersome than Section 21, which takes almost a year.
Here is an extract from the official government press release along with my pithy comments IN BOLD:
“The government will deliver the biggest change to renters law in a generation, improving the lives of millions of renters by driving up standards in the private and socially rented sector, delivering on the government’s mission to level up the country.”
“A “new deal” will be put in place for the 4.4 million households privately renting across England by extending the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time. These reforms will build on the progress the government has already made in this area, and ensure all renters have access to secure, quality homes, levelling up opportunities for the 21% of private rented who currently live in homes of an unacceptable standard.”
To get their properties up to the vaunted EPC grade C, so they will still be able to rent is a matter that has got landlords very worried and is something we have written about extensively here.
“New measures will also protect tenants, delivering on a manifesto commitment. So-called ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions – that allow rogue landlords to terminate tenancies without giving any reason – will be outlawed, so renters can remain in their homes and communities, and continue supporting the local economy. 22% of those who moved in the past year did not end their tenancy by choice.”
This is misleading as my comment in paragraph 2 explains. Is Gove and his department so thick they actually believe that landlords are busting a gut to end tenancies on a whim and for no good reason?
“Together these reforms will help to ease the cost-of-living pressures renters are facing, saving families moving from one privately rented home to another an estimated £1,400 in moving costs”.
I now never refer to it as the “cost of living”. I now refer to it as “the cost of lockdown”. (Thanks to James Cooper for that obvious suggestion).
“The Bill will also strengthen landlords’ grounds for repossession making it easier for them to evict tenants who are willfully not paying rent, or who are repeatedly engaging in anti-social behaviour, bringing down neighbourhoods”.
This is great to hear but until you sort out the monstrous waiting lists at court to get possession and follow through on the specialist housing court, these are just words.
“Tenants in social housing will also benefit from major reforms to the sector. The Social Housing Regulation Bill will make all registered social housing providers subject to a tough new regulatory regime, with failing social landlords facing unlimited fines if they fail to meet the standards expected of them”.
About time too! Let’s have an even playing field in rented housing provision.
Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe and cold homes, powerless to put it right, and under the threat of sudden eviction.
“The New Deal for renters announced today will help to end this injustice, improving conditions and rights for millions of renters.
“This is all part of our plan to level up communities and improve the life chances of people from all corners of the country.”
Now that the leaders all signed up to the technocratic agenda have been told to stop repeating the phrase, “Build Back Better” because it was becoming hideously obvious they were doing so in lockstep, we now must live with this equally daft phrase, “Levelling Up”.
“A new Private Renters’ Ombudsman will be created to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court. The ombudsman will cover all private landlords letting properties and make sure that when residents make a complaint, landlords take action to put things right.”
It will be interesting to see the detail on how this will work.
“The Bill will also introduce a new property portal to help landlords understand their obligations, give tenants performance information to hold their landlords to account, and help councils crack down on poor practice.”
Another layer of something to do the same thing as the “How to Rent” document. Is anyone actually using that still? And what happens if they don’t?
“The Social Housing Regulation Bill will continue to deliver on the government’s reforms in response to the Grenfell Tower fire as we reach the 5th anniversary of the tragedy. It follows on from the Building Safety Act and last year’s Fire Safety Act. The Social Housing Regulation Bill will create a robust regulatory framework that will drive up the standards of social housing accommodation and help tenants and the Regulator hold social housing landlords to account.
- Create new, tough regulations for better social housing – helping tenants to hold shoddy landlords to account.
- Give the Regulator stronger powers to enforce action if they see failings by social housing landlords.
- Place an expectation on social landlords to place tenants’ concerns at the heart of all they do, with effective resident engagement in place, so no one has to live in sub-standard social housing.
- Provide greater transparency for tenants on how their landlord is performing, how their homes are managed and who is responsible for compliance with health and safety requirements.
- Strengthen the economic regulation of the social housing sector, increasing protections for tenants’ homes and supporting continued investment in the new supply of social housing.”
All sounds good. I would be interested to see the detail and how the mechanics will work.
“The government also today introduced the landmark Levelling Up and Regeneration bill, which will spread opportunity and prosperity and transform towns and communities across the United Kingdom. This includes a significant package of measures to revive high streets, regenerate town centres and deliver the high-quality homes that communities need. It will put the legal foundations in place to deliver the government’s wide-reaching proposals to spread opportunity, drive productivity and boost local pride.”
It is that “Levelling Up” phrase again.
Meanwhile, here are some actual, real world “facty facts” from the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
- The NRLA’s proposals for a new system to replace Section 21 repossessions can be accessed at: https://www.nrla.org.uk/download?document=1333.
- According to the Ministry of Justice, in the fourth quarter of 2021 it took an average (mean) time of 48.2 week between a private landlord seeking to repossess a property through the courts to it actually happening. See table 6 at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1053738/Mortgage_and_Landlord_Possession_Tables_Q4_Oct_to_Dec_2021.ods.
- The most recently available data in the English Housing Survey, 2019 to 2020 private rented sector report shows that among their private renters who had seen their tenancy end over the previous year, 8.1% said it was because they were asked to leave by their landlord or letting agent. See annex table 3.7 at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1000057/EHS_19-20_PRS_Ch_3_tables.ods.
- The Ministry of Justice’s Mortgage and Landlord Possession statistics: October to December 2021 can be accessed at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1053738/Mortgage_and_Landlord_Possession_Tables_Q4_Oct_to_Dec_2021.ods. Table 7 notes shows that across England and Wales:
- Between 2019 and 2021 the number of possession claims brought to court using the accelerated procedure (section 21) fell by 55.9% from 19,042 in 2019 to 8,402 in 2021.
- Between 2015 and 2019 the number of possession claims brought to court using the accelerated procedure (section 21) fell by 50.4% from 38,402 in 2015 19,042 in 2019
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