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Rental Reform White Paper

17th June 2022

Rental reform white paper

The promised Rental Reform white paper was released by the government this week. It lays out all the areas of the private rental sector that the government aims to improve through legislation.

Rental reforms were a central part of the Conservative manifesto, as they aimed to make renting both fairer for tenants and easier for landlords.

All changes announced will only affect the rental sector in England, as housing is a devolved matter. We’ve gone over what the Rental Reform white paper announced and what it will mean for landlords.

When broken down, the main changes brought about include:

  1. No more section 21
  2. Decent homes standard
  3. New powers for tenants

1. No More Section 21

The biggest change announced in the Rental Reform white paper is the abolition of section 21 evictions in England. Section 21 evictions, also known as no-reason or no-fault evictions, have been standard practice in the UK for over 30 years.

In Wales, the Welsh government is also abolishing section 21 as part of their Renting Homes (Wales) Act.

While the white paper hasn’t specified what section 21 will be replaced with, make sure to follow our latest news page to know when the changes are announced.

Rental agreement.

The biggest change announced in the Rental Reform white paper is the abolition of section 21 evictions in England, which has been around for 30 years.

2. Decent Homes Standard

Another big change announced is the extension of the Decent Homes Standard to the private rental sector. In the past, this standard had only applied to council houses and properties owned by housing associations.

The aim of this is to decrease the number of non-decent homes in the private rented sector, a figure that has dropped by 16% in the last decade.

The result of this will be similar to the ‘Fit for human habitation’ criteria being introduced in Wales, however, won’t be a big a change for landlords as the standard has already been in effect in other areas. 

3. New Powers For Tenants 

Tenants are also being handed more power in the future legislation outlined. Landlords can now be challenged on a rent increase if they are deemed ‘unjustified’. That said, while this is a positive, it’s important to note that what an unjustified rent increase is isn’t clarified in the Rental Reform white paper.

In addition to this, the notice period required for a rent increase has doubled. The paper also calls for an end to “arbitrary rent review clauses” and to “give tenants stronger powers to challenge poor practice”.

Furthermore, it also calls for tenants to have the power to “be repaid rent for non-decent homes”.

Someone signing a rental agreement.

Landlords can now be challenged on a rent increase if they are deemed ‘unjustified’.

Other Changes

There are a number of other reforms outlined in the Rental Reform white paper. Here is a list of the other most relevant changes the government plan on making in 2022:

  • They intend to make it easier for tenants to keep pets in rental properties
  • They are making it illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits
  • A single system of periodic tenancies will be created
  • Councils will have more powers to punish the “worst offenders” with increased fines and an enforcement pilot
  • Landlords can no longer repossess their property without a valid reason defined in the law (i.e to sell the property)
  • An online portal will be set up to help landlords better “understand and comply with their responsibilities”

Overall, the government aims to change the existing English rental system to give more rights to tenants. The quality of rental properties will be more tightly regulated and stricter enforcement measures will be in place. If you want to learn more about the Rental Reform white paper, you can read the full report here

If you are a landlord with property in England and want to know how these proposals might affect your properties, get in touch with us today.