So, what do we know about the Rental Reform proposals?
Removal of Section 21s
As expected, the much-publicised removal of Section 21 (the so-called ‘no-fault eviction’) has been included. This means that a landlord can only bring a tenancy to an end if they have a valid ground for possession. Some of the reasons include:-
- the sale of the property
- either the landlord or a close family member wishes to move in
- tenants willfully do not pay the rent
- repetitive anti-social behaviour (new tools will be introduced for landlords to deal with repeat offenders)
No more fixed-term tenancies
The end of fixed-term tenancies is another big change. This means landlords and tenants will enter a periodic (rolling) tenancy whereby a tenant can choose to give notice (a minimum of 2 months) at any point. Whereas the landlord will have limited powers to regain possession of their property.
Whilst it does mean that a tenant could leave quickly, the demand in the market outweighs the supply, therefore we feel it’s unlikely to result in a spike of short-term tenancies, though there will be some. Part of a good Bristol Letting Agents job is to find you good quality tenants, that will look after the property as their own and stay longer-term (if that’s what the landlord is looking for) so this doesn’t change.
Whilst serving rental increases is still possible, landlords will have to submit a form and serve this to the tenant. It’s then with the tenant to accept and pay the increased rent moving forward. Alternatively, if the tenant doesn’t feel it’s in line with market value they can raise a dispute which results in a “First-tier Tribunal.”
Other headlines include:
- Changes will be introduced alongside a reformed court process. Digitising some of the processes to reduce delays.
- New digital portal to make sure landlords understand their obligations and support tenants in deciding whether to sign a new tenancy agreement.
- Outlawing blanket bans on families with children or those in receipt of benefits.
- Tenants’ request for having a pet in the property must be considered by the landlord and cannot unreasonably be refused.
- Create a new ombudsman to deal with tenancy disputes quickly.
- Improve the standards of the private rental sector by applying the Decent Homes Standard.
- Give councils stronger powers to drive criminal landlords out of the market
- Shield tenants from excessive deposits and fees through the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
- Notice periods will be reduced if tenants have been “irresponsible” e.g. breaching the tenancy agreement.
At this stage, the bill has not been passed by parliament and inevitably there will be some changes as it’s debated. The above is our interpretation of what is known so far, but the government have published some guidance on the reform which you can read through here.
There is quite a bit to digest, and we’ll keep you informed on how it impacts Bristol’s landlords. We’ll be here to support our landlords with these changes.