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Reform of the private rented sector in 2022
- AuthorAoife Hennessy
The Government has recently published its white paper, A Fairer Private Rented Sector, which sets out its proposals to reform the private rented sector to improve housing quality and to redress the balance between landlords and tenants. The proposals form part of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. Some of the proposed measures include:
- Abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions;
- Permitting tenants the right to request a pet in their home, which the landlord cannot unreasonably refuse;
- Making it illegal for a landlord to have a blanket ban on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits;
- Introducing a “Decent Homes Standard” into the private rented sector;
- Permitting rent increases once a year only, ending the use of rent review clauses and improving tenants ability to challenge excessive increases through the First Tier Tribunal;
- All Assured Shorthold Tenancies will be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies which means that tenants will be able to end a tenancy by providing two months’ notice but a landlord will only be able to end the tenancy in reasonable circumstances, which will be specified in legislation;
- Introducing a new single Ombudsman that all private landlords must join.
Whilst the plans cover a number of proposed changes, the main focus appears to be the abolishment of section 21 evictions, referred to as a ‘no fault’ evictions.
Currently, a landlord can seek possession of their property under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and providing that various conditions have been met, a court can make a possession order without the need for a Landlord to establish a reason or ground for possession. Generally, this procedure is seen as a quicker and less expensive route to obtaining possession.
As the new proposals seek to abolish this section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction, this will mean that landlords would have to seek possession of their property under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. Under the section 8 process, the landlord will have to evidence a reason for seeking possession and they must satisfy one of the grounds. The grounds fall into categories of ‘Mandatory grounds’, meaning that if satisfied, the court must grant a possession order requiring the tenant to leave the property and ‘Discretionary grounds’, which means that the court may grant a possession order if it's reasonable to do so depending on the facts of the case.
The new plans do propose to expand the list of grounds for eviction under the section 8 process to include a new ground to enable landlords to sell their property and to move family members into the property and also a new ground for cases where tenants have had repeated serious arrears.
The measures proposed by the Government will not come into force until the legislation, the Renters Reform Bill, has been introduced and passed through Parliament, this is expected to take place at some point in 2022 and accordingly we eagerly await further updates.
If you have questions about the reform of the private sector coming in 2022, want to discuss a landlord/tenant dispute or are looking for legal advice about a rental property, please contact a member of our Dispute Resolution team on 01904 624185.