Queens Speech – Renters Reform Bill

The Queens Speech was read today by Prince Charles, officially opening parliament.

It outlined 38 Bills, all details can be seen here

  1. Bill of Rights
  2. National Security Bill
  3. Economic Crime Bill
  4. Modern Slavery Bill
  5. Online Safety Bill
  6. Draft Victims’ Bill
  7. Draft Protect Duty Bill
  8. Public Order Bill
  9. Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Bill
  10. Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill
  11. Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill
  12. Media Bill
  13. Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill
  14. Schools Bill
  15. Energy Security Bill
  16. Draft Mental Health Act Reform Bill
  17. Transport Bill
  18. Draft Digital Markets Bill
  19. UK Infrastructure Bank Bill
  20. Non Domestic Rating Bill
  21. Product Security and Telecoms Infrastructure Bill
  22. Electronic Trade Documents Bill
  23. High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill
  24. Draft Audit Reform Bill
  25. Brexit Freedoms Bill 51
  26. Procurement Bill 53
  27. Financial Services and Markets Bill 55
  28. Data Reform Bill 57
  29. Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill 59
  30. Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill 61
  31. Higher Education Bill
  32. Social Housing Regulation Bill
  33. Harbours (Seafarers’ Remuneration) Bill
  34. Social Security (Special Rules for End of Life) Bill
  35. Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
  36. Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill
  37. Conversion Therapy Bill
  38. Renters Reform Bill

The full wording of the Renters Reform Bill is:

Renters Reform Bill

The purpose of the Bill is to:
● Fulfil the manifesto commitments to abolish so-called ‘no fault’ section 21evictions and strengthen landlords’ rights of possession, delivering on the levelling up mission to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030 and create a rental market that is fairer and more effective for tenants and landlords.

The main benefits of the Bill would be:
● Delivering a better deal for renters through reforms that will provide 4.4 million households with more secure and higher quality homes.
● Providing a more effective legal framework and a more stable rental market for landlords to remain and invest in.
● Giving local councils effective tools to crack down on the minority of noncompliant landlords and poor practice.

The main elements of the Bill are:
● Abolishing so-called ‘no fault’ evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, providing security for tenants in the private rented sector and empowering them to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without fear of retaliatory eviction.
● Reforming possession grounds for landlords, introducing new and stronger grounds for repeated incidences of rent arrears and reducing notice periods for anti-social behaviour, ensuring that they can regain their property efficiently when needed.
● Applying the legally binding Decent Homes Standard in the Private Rented Sector for the first time ever, giving tenants safer, better quality and better value homes.
● Introduce a new Ombudsman for private landlords so that disputes can easily be resolved without the need to go to court, which is often costly and lengthy, and ensure that when residents make a complaint, landlords take action to put things right.
● Introducing a new property portal to help landlords understand their obligations, give tenants performance information to hold their landlord to account as well as aiding local authorities.

Territorial extent and application
● The Bill will extend to England and Wales and apply to England only.

Key facts
● There are currently 4.4 million households in the private rented sector in England, making it the second largest tenure (19 per cent of households).
● Around one million (21 per cent) private rental homes don’t meet the Decent Homes Standard. This is down from 41 per cent in 2009 but still much higher than other tenures (12 per cent of social sector homes and 16 per cent of owneroccupied homes).
● In 2019-20, more than one fifth of renters (22 per cent) did not end their last tenancy by choice and faced an average of £1,400 of moving costs as well as likely paying more for the home they moved into.
● The measures in the Bill will support the Government’s levelling up mission on housing for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50 per cent by 2030.
● We will shortly publish a White Paper which will set out more detail on our proposals for landmark reform in the private rented sector.

Housing Reform
● The Government is committed to helping more people to own the home of their dreams. We believe home ownership provides people with greater security to raise a family and live comfortably.
● Alongside the work to improve the regulation of social housing, the Government remains committed to creating a fair and just housing system that works for everyone.
● The Government will be taking forward a comprehensive programme of reform to improve fairness and transparency in the leasehold market.
● The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 will come into force on 30 June. This means that landlords will be prevented from requiring a financial ground rent in most new long residential leases. We will also publish accompanying guidance for enforcement officers and consumers.
● This was the first part of our seminal programme to implement leasehold and commonhold reform in this Parliament. Building on this, the Government remains committed to:

  • transforming the experience of leaseholders by making it easier and cheaper for them to extend their lease or buy their freehold, and simpler and quicker to take control of the management of their building;
  • better protecting and empowering leaseholders by giving them more information on what their costs cover and ensuring they are not subject to any unjustified legal costs and can claim their own legal costs from their landlord;
  • banning new leasehold houses so that all new houses are freehold from the outset other than in exceptional circumstances; and
  • delivering a reformed commonhold system as an alternative to leasehold ownership.

● We will continue to work closely with the Competition and Markets Authority as their investigation into mis-selling and unfair terms in the leasehold sector continues. In recent months, the Authority secured commitments from fifteen businesses that had bought freeholds from the housing developer Countryside to remove egregious doubling ground rents terms for their leaseholders and revert charges to original rates. We encourage developers who have not yet engaged with the investigation to do so.

● This is part of a wider housing reform agenda to level up homeownership. We have set ambitious housing missions for renters to have a secure path to ownership and reduce the number of non-decent rented homes. The Government is also supporting more first-time buyers to get onto the housing ladder; has announced the offer to regenerate 20 towns and cities across England; launched a £1.5 billion Levelling Up Homebuilding Fund; is increasing the amount of affordable housing and is also reducing homelessness

.
Key facts
● There are around 4.6 million leasehold homes in England, representing almost one in five of the total housing stock.
● The Law Commission’s investigation on how to help existing leaseholders and revitalise commonhold provided a set of recommendations in 2020 for the Government to consider. They highlighted the need to make the process of lease extensions and freehold acquisitions easier and cheaper, the need to revise the eligibility of Right to Manage and simplify this process, and to re-invigorate commonhold as a workable alternative to leasehold.
● Multiple industry surveys over the last six years have reported major problems with the system, including owners of long leasehold properties unaware of being in a ‘landlord and tenant relationship’ and having different rights to owner occupiers.

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Rodney Townson

    Did I misunderstand the Deregulation Act 2015 ?

    This already legislates against retaliatory eviction by removing the ability to serve S21 notice.
    How will removing S21 make any difference?

    Plus, despite being in place over 20 years, the Decent Homes Standard has hardly produced stunning results in the social sector, with 1 in 7 social homes in London failing to meet the standard
    https://www.socialhousing.co.uk/news/one-in-seven-social-homes-in-london-fail-to-meet-decent-homes-standard-74318

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