The Queen’s speech on May 11 2021 contained the sentence “My Government will help more people to own their own home whilst enhancing the rights of those who rent”. This cryptic sentence has been fleshed out through the briefing notes issued by Government and which can be found under the whole speech at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/queens-speech-2021-background-briefing-notes on pages 113 and 114. The main points are as follows:
- Publish their consultation response on reforming tenancy law through abolishing the Section 21 Notice and improving security of tenure or tenants in the private sector.
- Strengthening repossession grounds for landlords if they have a valid reason.
- Outline proposals for a new “lifetime” tenancy deposit.
- Instigate reforms to improve standards in rented accommodation by the provision of a right of redress; and targeted enforcement against criminal landlords (Words used in the Speech not by PainSmith). The example given is they might introduce a landlords’ register.
- Government intend to publish a White Paper detaining the reforms in the autumn; and there will be extensive engagement with the private rented sector (“PRS”) in shaping reforms.
Looking at the points made above and the briefing notes a number of issues spring to mind:
- If there is no consultation regarding a section 21 Notice until after a White Paper is published in the autumn the whole issue of abolishing the Notice has been postponed until sometime in 2022 or 2023.
- Consideration is being given to a requirement for all landlords to belong to a redress scheme in the PRS; and a surety that all tenants will have the right to redress. How this scheme will be managed and for what purpose is not yet clear. It may be a method of obtaining compensation for lack of repair without going through the court system. It will require careful drafting to be effective and not burdensome for either party especially the landlord.
- Consideration will be given for further reforms of the PRS. The main effort would appear to be directed at an enforcement scheme supporting effective improvements in property conditions; including measures to hold bad landlords to account and providing decent housing without penalising good landlords. No further information is currently provided about how this outcome will be achieved.
- Explore improvements and efficiencies to the possession process in the courts to make it quicker and easier to use. After the debacle faced by landlords since March 2020 with the extended closure of the courts and then the problems with the prolonged proceedings to obtain possession; plus the increased period of any relevant Notice serious thought should be given to the landlord and the balance in the system regarding both sides of the PRS.
The briefing notes contain points regarding the social sector but these have not been addressed within this Blog. All landlords and agents should watch carefully for the publishing of the White Paper and take the opportunity to answer the consultation process. Make sure all points are very succinct and factual to maximise their impact. PainSmith will publish further updates on the processes being carried out as they occur.