Landlords: 6 thing landlords need to know about the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper
Landlords and tenants will soon see changes to how tenancies are run, thanks to incoming legislation changes enforced by the Government. Letting agents across the country are digesting the contents of the new Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper.
Our role is to support landlords in implementing what’s new, ensuring their buy-to-lets are legally compliant at all times. Ahead of the White Paper contents becoming law, we summarise the key points that need considering now:-
1. Changes to tenancy types & evictions
The Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper confirms the intention to scrap Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. Landlords will need a reason from a set list in order to end a tenancy lawfully, rather than simply tell tenants to leave with no reason. It is thought that regaining a property for the landlord to live in or sell on will be one of the acceptable reasons soon to be defined in law.
There are, however, addendums to this incoming reform. There will be improvements to the eviction process, in favour of the landlord, where the tenant is frequently involved in anti-social behaviour or is in rent arrears. On the flipside, it will be easier for renters to walk away from a tenancy agreement as fixed term tenancies will be banned. In their place, all tenancy agreements will be issued on a periodic basis, leaving tenants freer to leave a property when they wish.
2. Discrimination against some rental groups will end
Landlords have been able to exclude some groups from renting their property but this will come to an end. The White Paper will forbid landlords from making blanket bans on renters with children and tenants who receive benefits. All tenants, however, will still have to meet the landlord’s pre-set criteria and pass the referencing process.
In addition, all tenants will be able to request a pet move in with them, which the landlord must think about and cannot unreasonably refuse. To make this an easier law for landlords to embrace, the landlord can insist that the tenant has specific pet insurance.
3. Rent rises will be capped to once a year
Rent rises are unavoidable but to make it fairer for tenants, the notice period landlords give renters will double. In addition, the frequency at which rent rises can be applied will be capped to once a year. It is thought landlords wishing to increase the rent will have to use a Section 13 notice to do so or insert a rent review clause into the period agreement.
4. Living conditions will be standardised
The Government’s concerns over health and safety in private rented properties will be addressed by a new Decent Homes Standard. This already operates in the social housing sector but it will apply to all privately rented homes for the first time as part of the reforms. The Decent Homes Standard will run alongside the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.
5. A new private renters’ ombudsman will be set up
Calls for specific housing courts have been dismissed at this stage but a new private renters’ ombudsman will be created instead. The aim will be for an impartial body to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords, without the need to go to court. Issues, such as disagreeing over deposit deductions and rent rises, will be settled without high-level judicial involvement.
6. A new advice & information portal will be launched
With hundreds of rules, regulations and now new laws for landlords to comply with, the Government will create a single online portal for landlords, listing every compliance item, together with useful property set-up and management advice. It is not known as yet whether it will be mandatory for landlords to register with the portal.
We are working to advise our landlords on how the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper will affect current tenancies and future buy-to-lets. You can contact us for tailored lettings advice and to discuss any aspect of the rental reforms.