By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.
By Tony Kent

Head of Property Disputes, Mackrell Solicitors


Flaws and Uncertainties of the Rental Reform White Paper

For the last decade, successive Governments have promised a review of the rules around renting in the UK – in part driven by a growth in the number of people renting.

This has, at last, culminated in the delivery of the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper, and the Renters Reform Bill.

This paper outlines 12 key proposals that the Government believes will improve the letting of homes for both landlords and tenants.


And yet, while some hopes exist within the paper in regard to reforming the dispute process through greater efficiencies, a far greater fear is growing about the abolition of certain laws, which could, for many landlords, drive them out of the market entirely.

Although some would argue that only those in breach of these new laws have anything to fear, the reality is that they create such uncertainty for many landlords, particularly those with a single property or small portfolio, that the availability of private rented homes could shrink considerably.

Key to these new policy proposals are the changes to the rules surrounding Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and evictions.


Abolition of Section 21

Section 21, more often referred to in the media as ‘no fault’ evictions, is the ‘poster boy’ of the bad press that landlords receive, and it has long been the target of housing pressure groups and many MPs.

While it has certainly had its fair share of bad examples, from the worst rogue landlords, such as its use in revenge evictions, it does serve an important purpose when it comes to the recovery of property.

The fear is that though there may be grounds for possession after the abolition of Section 21 that will allow premises to be repossessed, no real detail is yet available on what those grounds will be.

Though the paper suggests that there would be some grounds based on a genuine sale or re-use of the premises, many landlords may be concerned about letting their property at all, where they are not able to use the no-fault method if they need the property back.

It is important to recognise that the 1989 changes to the law around renting, which introduced Section 21, liberalised the market, making it easier for landlords to rent out properties and recover them under the right circumstances. Certain landlords will, therefore, be deterred to offer their property for rent due to the abolition of Section 21.

If there is one shining light from this section of the paper, it is the proposal to introduce new means of recovery where a tenant is in persistent arrears.

Although the details are fairly scant on how this will work, it will at least give landlords some means by which to recover their property effectively.

The pandemic has highlighted the pain that many landlords have faced. With many only now beginning to collect arrears or recover property from those that couldn’t pay.

These have only been made worse by the delays created by backlogs in the courts, which have left hundreds of landlords waiting for rents, months after they were due, and homes that still contain the same tenants that owe them thousands of pounds.

The introduction of specific grounds based on rent arrears, therefore, is welcome. However, its effectiveness will rely on having an efficient court system or a system of arbitration that has ‘the teeth’ necessary to enforce the actions required.


Rent reviews

Alongside this new power to tackle arrears, the Government has counterbalanced the needs of tenants by calling for legislation so that rents only increase once per year and the end of rent review clauses.

This is also tied to a ‘new’ right top to challenge excessive rent increases through the First Tier Tribunal.

This certainly sounds great, but the reality is that such a right already exists for many tenancies under the Housing Act 1988, which deals with the determination of rents. This allows tenants to take a landlord to the Tribunal where they feel that their rent is excessive.

The problem with the paper

Rather than invest resources and create policies that target the worst offenders, this paper seems to an extent to tarnish all landlords with the same brush.

It assumes, to a certain degree, that all landlords abuse their position and do not act in the interests of tenants or common decency.

Whilst it is only right that the law pursues those acting outside of the law or walking a fine line along it, it is not fair that all landlords should be subject to such draconian rules.

I am sure that there are already many landlords out there who have been looking at this paper and growing increasingly uneasy about the security of their property and their ability to draw income from it.

This is may most hit those with smaller property portfolios who do not have the means or resources – or sometimes the will – to risk their investment in this way.

This is mainly those who have invested to support their own lives, during retirement or as a supplementary income to their work, or who may have inherited from a loved one.

Larger property investors and developers will probably find it easier to adapt to these new challenges.

Unfortunately, for many tenants, the abolition of Section 21 notices may also be counterproductive and result in greater insecurity, at least in the short term.

I suspect that many landlords, faced with concerns about their ability to recover their property may withdraw from the market entirely due to the risk.

This could result in less properties being available to rent resulting in higher prices and greater competition for the hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who rely on rented housing.

While hopes and fears exist around this White paper we must remember that it is just that, a paper. Despite what the Government may claim, these are currently just proposals.

Let’s hope that whatever emerges from the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper considers the needs of all stakeholders, including tenants, landlords, local authorities and the courts.

* Tony Kent is Head of Property Disputes at Mackrell Solicitors *

Want to comment on this story? Our focus is on providing a platform for you to share your insights and views and we welcome contributions.
If any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.
Please help us by reporting comments you consider to be unduly offensive so we can review and take action if necessary. Thank you.

  • icon

    As many others have said, government and tenant groups need to beware ' the law of unintended consequences', nothing more needs to be said


    “Minister, Minister, a successful Government policy is one which does not achieve the exact opposite of what it sets out to do.” Pearl of wisdom from Sir Humphrey


    Yes Minister, wasn't that a good program, and very true to life

  • icon

    S21 is abolished in Wales from Dec this year. I have issued an S21 on one of my proerties last minute as I did not want to evict before I had to. The property will go on the market and probably sell to a 1st time buyer especially now that SD is abolished. (Hopefully in Wales as well as England).

  • icon

    I believe no landlords wants to evict their Tenants in the main, but are being forced to by the Authorities, about time Tenants and Anti-landlords groups recognised and admitted this.


    Agreed, in over 30 yrs the only tenants I've evicted have been non payers, but that could change, if I'm forced to sell I'll be evicting good tenants with a heavy hart

  • David Saunders

    No fault eviction to be abolished and no doubt followed by rent controls, hence introducing lifetime sitting tenancies that are able to be passed on after death to the tenants children, yet the government still believes property owners are going to be queuing up to let their houses and flats afterwards. You really couldn't make it up.


    Spot on!

  • icon

    Same I only ever evicted non payers, some even dragged it out for a free year before I got Court Order. except once for Anti-Social behaviour when I had Police & Council on my back threatening me with prosecution, yet when I tried to get rid on them the Council wanted me to keep them on. They did pay the rent but could well afford to, had others living there against my wishes or permission and not on the Contract.

  • icon

    We had the awful experience of serving 7 Section 21s on good tenants yesterday!


    Frances - You have only done what you had to, and what a lot of us will be doing over the next few years.

  • icon

    There is a lot of other things wrong with the proposed rent reform bill The proposed changes to get rid of fixed term contracts will affect student rentals detrimentally for both students and student landlords and is inconsistent allowing PBSA's to still have fixed term contracts - very unfair and discriminating against small time investors - very unconservative and unentrepreneurial. The right to ask to have pets is ridiculous - it is only a right to ask - so completely pointless and just headline grabbing. The idea of having a property portal is good but only if accompanied by other legislation that means there is no need for selective licences and HMO licences as adding a portal alone will just add more work for landlords for no real gain for anyone as the point of the portal is covered already by selective and HMO licencing. The whole bill is poorly thought through by people who haven't thought about it. The conservative party state they want less red tape and are just bringing in more that is poorly put together and not thought through

  • icon

    Andrew it’s a bit obvious what’s happening to PRS making it worse for you, me & the Tenants but there is a way around it look at what thousands have quietly done, for me it doesn’t matter a carrot with some of my extended family and their dysfunctional partners, why should I be bothered not too long I suppose I’ll b a fist of ashes. Every medium is full of Surveys, figures & percentages enough Stat’s to confuse anyone. They miss the reality about Landlords selling up but many are selling up and keeping them at the same time, so the figured will be high in theory but not in reality.
    Thanks to S.24 many have formed a Company now comes the clever bit, you sell the Property to your own Company, Mortgage it up to hilt and get your market money out. So you have sold it but you still have it, it will run as a Corporate letting business, up the Rents and let an agent manage it, so you are at hands length and the pressure off no need to worry about loosing your money you have already it in your pocket. While you are at it add son and daughter to the Company. Completely tax efficient all expenses and Mortgage’s interest allowable. I tell it how it is strange never a murmur about it on here I suppose silent cars run the best.

  • icon

    It really surprise me that the mortgage companies haven't object too this legislation, because their investments could turn to ratshat, with a sitting tenant

  • icon

    Francis, very sad having to get rid of Tenants just because of Government legislation, it doesn’t help anyone, the Author of THE WHITE PAPER Mr Michael Gove as I understand it what does he know about housing is he a landlord or a Tenant no just privileged born with a silver spoon, then making laws about things he knows nothing about, unfortunately he wasn’t sacked in time.

  • icon

    Micheal Foley, give was just acting under orders. It's just a looting exercise. It's to placate the tenants and remove competition from the financial institutions, especially Barclays Bank, who are building slums in the sky.


Please login to comment

MovePal MovePal MovePal