Govt pushes forward with rental reform

Govt pushes forward with rental reform

The government has pushed forward with proposals to scrap Section 21 notices and expand access to the rogue landlord database as it published its awaited consultation on reforming the rental sector.

The government hopes the proposals, published on July 21, will create a fairer rental sector for both landlords and tenants.

It proposed to give tenants access to the information held within the rogue landlord database so they can make informed decisions on who they choose to rent property from.

The rogue landlord database is a tool currently used by local authorities which keeps information on rogue landlords and property agents who flout their legal obligation often renting out substandard accommodation and not paying certain fees.

The database enables local authorities to share information about criminal landlords when they act across authority boundaries and helps councils target their enforcement action against those who neglect their responsibilities.

The changes would mean prospective and current tenants could check the name and offence details for their future or present landlord.

James Brokenshire MP, the minister for housing, said: "We want to ensure that the database is a useful tool for tenants and local authorities and therefore we are also considering the scope of offences to be included on the database.

"The aim is to provide a more comprehensive range of information to assist existing and prospective tenants in making an informed choice about who to rent from."

In the second consultation Mr Brokenshire proposed abolishing the so-called ‘no fault’ evictions — Section 21 notices, initially announced in April.

Section 21 notices give landlords the power to evict tenants at the end of their tenancy without a reason and it is hoped the change will protect renters from ‘unethical’ landlords and provide them with long-term security. 

Under the current laws, those renting can be kicked out with only eight weeks' notice without a reason.

According to Mr Brokenshire, the ‘basic principles’ of the housing market — fairness and transparency — were not fulfilled by the use of Section 21.

He said: "The abolition of Section 21 will be achieved by removing assured shorthold tenancies from the Housing Act 1988, coupling the existing protections with a fairer, more transparent possessions regime.

"It will deliver a new deal for millions of renters – no matter who their landlord is – and will enable landlords to invest with the confidence needed to deliver the rental sector the country deserves."

The government insists that in order to remove Section 21 orders there must also be an enhanced Section 8 of the Housing Act — similar to a Section 21 but where the landlord has to give a ‘valid reason’.

As part of the proposals, the government is considering how to ensure applications for possession orders under Section 8 could be managed more efficiently for landlords.

In April, the Residential Landlords Association warned of the dangers of scrapping Section 21.

Following the publication of the consultations yesterday, David Smith, policy director of the RLA, said landlords’ concerns remained “unchanged”.