Last year saw the biggest change in the Welsh housing law in years and it looks that England housing law will be following suit.
The Rental (Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17th May 2023 and the proposals are to reflect the Government’s plans to improve housing quality in the Private Rental Sector. They also aim to tackle the ongoing issues of rent increases and unfair evictions, and to help tackle the cost of living pressures.
The main proposals include the abolishment of Section 21 ‘’no fault’’ eviction notices, all Tenancies to become Periodic, a new Property Ombudsman, Rights for Tenants to keep pets and ensuring all homes meet the Decent Homes Standard.
Section 21 ‘’no fault’’ eviction notices, which are currently able to be used at the end of a fixed term or with a Periodic Tenancy, will no longer be able to be used. The Government aims to ban Assured Tenancies and Assured Shorthold tenancies for Tenants and replace them with Periodic tenancies.
To ensure Landlords can cover the costs of finding a new Tenant and are not regularly stuck with empty properties, a Tenant who wants to move out will need to give two months’ notice. Landlords will only be able to evict a tenant in ‘reasonable circumstances’, further details of which are yet to be published.
There will also be mandatory grounds for possession, including for serious rent arrears or if a Landlord wants to sell the property or move back into it themselves with the latter not being able to be done in the first six months of the Tenancy.
A new Government approved Ombudsman will regulate the Private Rented Sector in England and it will be compulsory for all Landlords. The Ombudsman will have the powers to assist Tenants and enforce Landlords to take action over any outstanding problems in the property, apologise and even reimburse the Tenant in some cases.
The Social Rented Sector has had a decent homes standard in place since 2001, and the Government proposes to introduce a legally binding Decent Homes Standard to the Private Rented Sector. The proposed standard states that each home in the Private Rented Sector would need to ‘’meet the current statutory minimum standard for housing, be in a reasonable state of repair, have reasonable facilities and services, and provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort’’.
All Tenants will be legally entitled to request that a pet shares their home. However, the proposal also states that, although the Landlord is obliged to consider and not unreasonably withhold the request, the request can be denied with good reason. Landlords can also request that a Tenant takes out Pet Insurance if their request is accepted.
This is the biggest change to the Housing Act in England for nearly 30 years and will provide more protection, security and rights to people living in rented accommodation.
Full details of the proposed plans can be found in the government white paper, A Fairer Private Rented Sector, which was published on 16th June 2022.
Jayne Clarke Lettings and Property Management