The Queen has announced the new government's priorities for its coming term, and it includes a proposal to abolish Section 21 of the Housing Act and reforming the grounds for possession, as part of a new Renters’ Reform Bill, designed to “introduce a package of reforms to deliver a fairer and more effective rental market”.
But in the absence of any meaningful plan to boost the level of social housing in this country, the announcement confirming the abolition of Section 21 in yesterday’s Queens speech has been described by ARLA Propertymark as “another attack against the landlords who actually house the nation”.
The trade body’s chief executive, David Cox, said: “If Section 21 is scrapped, Section 8 must be reformed and a new specialist housing tribunal created. Without this, supply will almost certainly fall which will have the consequential effect of raising rents and will further discourage new landlords from investing in the sector.
“ARLA Propertymark will be engaging with the government to ensure they fully understand the consequences of any changes, and we will be scrutinising the legislation, to ensure landlords have the ability to regain their properties if needed.”
The government also plans to introduce a new scheme to permit tenants to transfer their tenancy deposits when they move properties.
The new Lifetime Deposit scheme will permit renters to transfer their deposit from one property to another instead of being left out of pocket for weeks while they wait to be reimbursed from their old landlord but have to spend money securing their new property.
However, landlords will also be given strengthened powers to regain possession of their property under the new proposed Bill, while the expansion of the database of rogue landlords is also included in the legislation to be introduced in Parliament.
But the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has also warned of a rental crisis that could lead to a mass sell-off of properties following the announcement Section 21 will be scrapped.
The organisation is calling on the government to develop a dedicated housing court to ensure that there is easily accessible and swift justice available where there are conflicts between landlords and tenants.
David Smith, RLA policy director, commented: “We accept the need to protect tenants from abuse, but it is crucial that plans to reform the way repossessions can take place are got right if the government is to avoid a rental housing crisis.
“Unless the new system is fair to good landlords as well as tenants, those same landlords who we need to support simply will not have the confidence to provide the rented homes that are needed to meet the demand.”
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