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Government publishes its new deal for renters

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It wants to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords and support responsible landlords to stay in the sector
Government publishes its new deal for renters

The government has published its fairer private rented sector white paper, which aims to ensure millions of tenants live in decent, well looked-after homes.

It described the reforms as ‘the biggest shake up of the private rented sector in 30 years’.

The government’s white paper looks to provide protections for the most vulnerable alongside new measures to tackle arbitrary and unfair rent increases.

Tackling unfit homes

One in five (21%) private renters currently live in unfit homes, so the government plans to extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private sector for the first time. This means privately let homes must be free from serious health and safety hazards, and landlords must keep homes in a good state of repair so renters have clean, appropriate and useable facilities.

The government also plans to ban ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions that allow landlords to terminate tenancies without giving any reason.

Other measures published in the white paper include:

  • Outlawing bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits
  • Ending the use of arbitrary rent review clauses, restricting tribunals from hiking up rent and enabling tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes
  • Giving all tenants the right to request a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse
  • All tenants 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, defined in law
  • Doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified
  • Giving councils stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders and increasing fines for serious offences.

Support for landlords

Landlords will also be supported through the bill, said the government, with the introduction of a Private Renters’ Ombudsman to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court.

It will also help responsible landlords to gain possession of their properties from anti-social tenants and sell their properties when they need to.

And it will introduce a new property portal to help landlords understand, and comply with, their responsibilities as well as giving councils and tenants the information they need to tackle rogue operators.

Levelling up and housing secretary Michael Gove, said: “For too long many private renters have been at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who fail to repair homes and let families live in damp, unsafe and cold properties, with the threat of unfair ‘no fault’ evictions orders hanging over them.

“Our New Deal for renters will help to end this injustice by improving the rights and conditions for millions of renters as we level up across the country and deliver on the people’s priorities.

“While the majority of private rented homes are of good quality, offering safe, comfortable accommodation for families, the conditions of more than half a million properties – or 12% of households – pose an imminent risk to tenants’ health and safety, meaning around 1.6 million people are living in dangerously low-quality homes, driving up costs for our health service.”

The measures published in the white paper will form part of the Renters Reform Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, to be introduced in this parliamentary session.

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