Toby’s Sunday lot from the Powerleague were in the pub when one of them claimed that all the new rules that have been brought in for landlords are only really a worry for the bad eggs among them. “Who told you that? Never go on hearsay”.
The actual changes being proposed are as follows and have definitely not been attained from a friend of a friend:
The UK Government has published a Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper that claims it will redress the balance between landlords and 4.4 million tenants in the private rented sector (PRS). The measures will form part of the Renters Reform Bill that was announced in the Queen’s Speech and will be introduced into Parliament later in 2022. In a major reset of power between tenants and landlords, residents will be able to demand information and rate their landlord as part of new satisfaction measures. It is part of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) wider reform agenda to improve lives and level up the country. However, DLUHC states whilst most private rented homes are of good quality, offering safe, comfortable accommodation, the conditions of more than half a million properties – or 12 per cent of households which pose an imminent risk to tenants’ health and safety, means around 1.6 million people are living in dangerously low-quality homes, driving up costs for our health service. So, to punish the 88 per cent of decent landlords providing good quality accommodation, the UK Government, has shaken up the PRS in an attempt to force up the quality of accommodation offered by rogue landlords. Some of the proposed changes include:
SECTION 21 BANNED
So-called ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions – that allow landlords to terminate tenancies without giving any reason – will be outlawed.
NO BLANKET BAN FOR RENTING WITH PETS
Tenants will be given the right to request a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
ARBITRARY RENT REVIEW CLAUSES
Designed to give tenants stronger powers to challenge poor practice, arbitrary rent review clauses will cease, this includes unjustified rent increases and will enable tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes.
FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN AND THOSE ON BENEFITS
It will be illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits.
NEW OMBUDSMAN AND PORTAL
A new Private Renters’ Ombudsman will be created to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court. This will ensure landlords can gain possession of their properties efficiently from anti-social tenants and can sell their properties when they need to. A new property portal will be introduced that will provide a single front door to help landlords to understand, and comply with, their responsibilities as well as give councils and tenants the information they need to tackle rogue operators.
All tenants are to be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies, meaning they can leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change. A tenancy will only end if a tenant ends or a landlord has a valid reason, as defined in law.
Doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified.
STRONGER POWERS AGAINST BAD LANDLORDS
Local Councils will have stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders, backed by enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offences.
This all looks like a sledgehammer to crack a nut although the more cynical might say it follows a familiar pattern of changes in recent years that do have the look of an intention to drive small landlords out of the market.
Tenants are already incredibly well protected. Badly behaved ones get away with their misbehaviour appallingly. Legal redress for landlords is actually very difficult and prohibitively expensive. This isn’t the 1950s with mouldy bedsits and landlords doing whatever they want.
However, if we take the proposals at face value, it can be seen that professional, decent, caring landlords mostly should have nothing to fear. They are already keeping their property properly maintained and looking after their tenants.
It is the rogue landlord who will fall foul of such new rules. Like the person who chances their arm parking on a yellow line because they know there isn’t much chance of enforcement action. They spend the bare minimum and don’t follow the letter of the law or regulations. When they do get a fine, they shrug it off as the price to be paid for everything they have got away with thus far.
So an honest landlord has spent a fortune keeping the property in good order, refurbishing and redecorating, abiding by rules and law changes and taking safety seriously.
Meanwhile, the rogue has spent next to nothing and, when (rarely) caught, has to pay a large fine, it is likely to still be a smaller sum than Mr Honest has spent over the years.
These proposed changes aren’t actually necessary. What is needed is more active enforcement. More and better trained council officers getting out from behind their desks (or “working from home”) and carrying out random inspections. Then, the councils need to throw the full weight of the law at the rogues.
And don’t get Toby started on some of the suggested changes. For instance, there is the proposal on being forced to take those on benefits. Most of us feel compassion for the less well off in our society. But there is a large element of psychology involved in the renting game. We all know that if you provide a property for a group of tenants that is in pristine condition, they are more likely to look after it than if the walls are falling down, there is mould and huge drafts coming in.
In the same way, your property is going to get treated with a bit more respect by someone who sees a sum of money leave their account each month than a family reliant totally on the state. If they want that then the local authority needs to be a guarantor of the state the property is returned in. This has to work both ways!
And the vagueness of some of the mooted policy changes. What are we to make of “tenants will be given the right to request a pet in their house”. So a landlord can just say no?!
Dear Government. Please go away and come up with some proposals that can be taken seriously.