Activists have expressed their delight that the government has “listed to the voice of renters” in its provisions for widespread reform of the private rental sector.
Yesterday the government confirmed that it would publish a White Paper ahead of a Renters Reform Bill, within this next legislative year, with a series of radical reforms.
These include scrapping what the government has called 'no fault' evictions - section 21 evictions - “giving renters better rights when they are told to leave despite complying with the terms of their tenancy.”
There will be additional reform of landlords' grounds for possession to give them greater powers to tackle repeated rent arrears or anti-social behaviour among tenants.
Privately rented homes are likely to be subject to the same minimum standards now required off social rented homes, while there will also be a portal for landlords which appears likely to become a form of register.
In addition, a new ombudsman for private rented landlords “will ensure disputes can be easily resolved without going to court.”
Critics of landlords have seen all this as a victory.
Polly Neate, chief executive of campaigning charity Shelter, says: “Today’s Queen’s Speech shows the government has listened to the voices of renters, who have been fighting for a long time to be heard. For years private renters have said they need more security, so they don’t have to live in constant fear of a no-fault eviction.
“These vital bills could finally give renters a system that is fair and safe – with the scrapping of Section 21, a new property portal that allows people to check their landlord is decent, and regulation to strengthen the rights of social tenants. But these promises will remain words on page until they become law. Now the government needs to get the job done.”
And Baroness Alicia Kennedy, who leads the Generation Rent pressure group, says: "We can’t level up without dramatic improvements to the quality of rented homes. Reforming tenancies and raising standards in the private rented sector are essential first steps towards this so the government’s recommitment to a Renters Reform Bill is hugely important.
"Renters have been waiting three years for the government to abolish these insidious Section 21 evictions. Finally, legislation looks to be on its way.
"But we can’t rest until the changes are passed into law. Now it’s the details that matter.
"It is essential that any new tenancy regime reduces the number of unwanted moves and gives renters the confidence to challenge poor practice by landlords.
"The plans also appear to address the desperate lack of regulation of private landlords, with a new ombudsman, a property portal and a requirement to meet the Decent Homes Standard. We need more detail on each, but they are essential measures if private renters are to exercise their rights effectively.”
Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive, says: “This Queen’s Speech provides some hope for renters anxious about being turfed out of their home in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis and recognises the urgent need to address poor quality social housing with tenants’ voices at the heart of this reform.
“But let’s be clear, this speech gives with one hand while taking with the other.
“The plan to introduce legislation that has the potential to criminalise anyone forced to sleep rough is nothing short of shameful and flies in the face of any effort to tackle rough sleeping for good. What’s more, we need urgent action to pull struggling families back from the brink.
“We cannot end homelessness with this mismatched plan.”
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