Yesterday the UK government published the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper. The aim of this paper is to address what might be considered an imbalance between owners (landlords) and residents (tenants) in the private rented sector. The measures laid out will form part of the Renters Reform Bill, which was announced earlier in the Queen's Speech. You can read more about them on propertymark's website here.
Many have already commented that measures laid out in the White Paper lean heavily in resident's favour, and while they intend to address the problem of rogue owners, they punish good owners in the process.
I asked our Operations Director, Reagan Bradley, to comment:
"If we look at the individual suggestions being made here, and look for the positives in the situation – really we might see some welcome changes to the rental sector, helping relationships between landlords and renters to solidify.
The government publication starts ‘Everyone deserves a secure and decent home’ – I don’t think any reasonable agent or owner would argue with that. We cannot be blind to the fact there are hundreds of agents and landlords who are dragging down the standards of our industry, and residents need protection from that. In the absence of introducing a need for regulation in the letting industry (something we have always believed in), the measures being looked at can hopefully work for both owners and residents alike.
Is this a bad thing? Where both parties want to, is being able to enter into a long term (post-three year) tenancy something that is going to deter investor landlords away from the sector? To us, we pride ourselves on retaining residents longer than the national average. Though this is currently done by renewing short period tenancies – being able to offer that security to a resident from the outset is sure to provide peace of mind and happier, more loyal residents who can truly feel at home and look after a property. The downside here is the potential inability to adjust rental levels as often – but we know a large proportion of owners will take good, long-term residents over marginal increases in rent.
Section 21 abolished
Let’s be super clear on this - this doesn’t mean as an owner, you can’t regain possession of your property. It means you cannot regain possession of your property – without reason. It's a really important difference and one that owners who are fair and reasonable shouldn’t be put off by. If you need to sell or regain possession of your property to live in – this will be possible. If you have issues with the residents, such as arrears or antisocial behaviour, then the current Section 8 process will still apply.
It means you won’t be able to serve notice on residents who you ‘just don’t like’ or have a personality clash with, or feel are making unreasonable demands. A great managing agent can help diffuse this issue. Retaliatory evictions are already illegal, and this takes this idea one step further. The government have included a large section acknowledging ‘the existing system does not work for responsible landlords either….we must support landlords to act efficiently to tackle antisocial behaviour or deliberate and persistent non-payment of rent.’ This part is less discussed in open forum – there could be a big positive here. Too long, rogue residents have equally been able to play the system and extend the eviction process, whilst the owner receives no rent for months on end.
The government have already confirmed that they will not be introducing rent controls in England at this time.
Raising housing standards
We don’t envisage this will be an issue for any of our owners, who all take compliance and the standard of their product as seriously as we do.
This is great news - tenants should have recourse, and if things are judged and run fairly and considerately, this will improve the industry for all.
This new Private Renter's Ombudsman will enable disputes between private residents and owners to be settled without going to court, which means savings in cost and time. It's good news for owners, as this enables them to gain possession of their properties more efficiently from antisocial residents."
If you have any questions or concerns about how these measures might affect you, get in contact with Reagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.