Allison Thompson, National Lettings Managing Director, Leaders Romans Group (LRG) provides a response to the publication of the Renters’ Reform Bill
Research carried out by LRG has found that section 21 is rarely overused, and even more rarely misused. LRG surveyed landlords across its estate agency brands and found that 80% of landlords have never used section 21. Of those that had, 63% did so because the tenant was in breach of the lease, and 38% used a ‘no fault’ eviction.
While the abolishing of section 21 is clearly a headline-grabber, if the Government fulfils its pledge to strengthen section 8 grounds, strengthen powers to evict anti-social tenants, and reform the court process, a landlord’s right to secure possession of their property will be protected.
There is already existing legislation to address genuine rogue landlords, however, statistics show a low-level of banning orders being issued. Property Portals and the use of UPRNs (Unique Property Reference Numbers) have been mooted for years. If the Property Portal leads to greater transparency and guidance for landlords and tenants, it would be a positive outcome.
No blanket bans on benefit claimants or families with children
Discrimination against any prospective tenant is unacceptable. The vetting process must be the same for every individual.
Landlords would have to consider pets
Where possible, many landlords consider tenancies with pets, and tenancy agreements should include clauses around cleaning and disinfestation at the end of tenancies. The concept of pet insurance needs to be enhanced with a view that any such insurance policy has relevant clauses which would protect the landlord’s property.
Overall comment on the purpose of legislation
The proposed legislation seems to be weighted in favour of tenants, and may serve to discourage new landlords to the sector.
It is important to bear in mind that private landlords are vital to meeting increased demand in the rental sector especially with a shortage of social housing, and that unnecessary measures which would result in an exodus of landlords from the market would be detrimental to rental affordability availability of supply.
The private rented sector already has a shortage of supply which probably already drives vulnerable tenants further underground in desperate attempts to secure housing.
LRG, along with our landlords, is committed to raising standards, but while we are fully supportive of ‘professionalising’ the private rented sector, many of the proposed changes pose new challenges which could penalise both landlords and tenants.