One of the highest profile advocates of widespread reform in the private rental sector has been Baroness Alicia Kennedy, director of campaign group Generation Rent. She says this about the fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper and the government's proposals revealed this week...
“It is very welcome to finally have this White Paper. It has been more than three years since the government first committed to getting rid of Section 21 evictions.
“Thousands of tenants have lost their homes on their landlord’s say-so in that time and many more will live with uncertainty until this legislation is passed.
“The private renters we represent have been telling the government it is too easy to find themselves renting from unscrupulous landlords who fail to keep their homes in good condition. So it is positive that the measures include mandatory registration of landlords through a property portal and an Ombudsman to hold landlords to account – hopefully meaning there will be more ways to claim back rent on substandard properties.
“The government has also rightly recognised renters need flexibility, which periodic tenancies will provide. Making it illegal to have a blanket bans to protect families with children and people receiving benefits is also very welcome.
“However we’re disappointed with the detail around the new proposed ‘no fault’ grounds which allow landlords to evict tenants to sell or move family in. The government proposals still mean a renter could be evicted every 8 months due to no fault of their own.
“Renters, especially those with children in local schools, need longer than a few months to pack up and move out. And with every unwanted move costing around £1,700 this is too much to pay without compensation when it’s not your choice to move.
“Without proper safeguards we could still see thousands of tenants facing the hardship of unwanted moves, and more staying quiet about disrepair out of fear of a retaliatory eviction.
“If the government can get the detail right and give tenants the confidence they need to request improvements and plan for the long term, this legislation has the potential to improve the lives of millions throughout England.”
A striking proposal of the White Paper concerned pets - specifically, that landlords "must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse" requests by all tenants to keep an animal in their home. James Hickman, head of outreach projects at The Dogs Trust, comments...
“With the number of people privately renting increasing year on year, and dog ownership at an all time high, we welcome the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper published by the UK Government, which includes proposals to make it easier for tenants to have much-loved pets in their rented homes.
“Sadly, one of the biggest reasons we see dogs handed in to our rehoming centres is due to a change in the owner’s circumstances, such as being unable to live in a rented property with a pet. As well as this, people living in private rented accommodation are often not able to enjoy the benefits and companionship of a pet just because of the type of housing they are living in. We believe that the benefits of pet ownership shouldn’t be exclusive to homeowners, but open to private and social renters as well.
“For most dog owners, being separated from their dog is no different from being separated from a family member, so the introduction of the legislation proposed in the White Paper will help ensure that fewer owners are forced to make the heart-breaking decision to give up their beloved pets.
“To increase the availability of pet friendly properties, Dogs Trust has been providing advice and resources to pet owners, landlords and letting agencies for more than a decade through our Lets with Pets scheme. We welcome the opportunity to work alongside the Government and other animal welfare organisations on the details of the legislation, to ensure it will effect real change in helping keep people and their pets together.”
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