Rental Reform by Heather Hilder on August 16, 2022 “Rental Reform” Rental reform – what’s the latest? Landlords, letting agents and tenants across the UK have been keeping track of the progress of the proposed rental reform changes as new details continue to emerge. In today’s blog we explore rental reform – what’s the latest? In June this year, the White Paper on Rental Reform was finally published after many months of delays. However, since then, Prime Minister and Conservative party leader Boris Johnson has resigned following a spate of resignations to force him to go. Currently, the two candidates for the new Tory Party leader and Prime Minister are Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. Truss is seen by many as the favourite. Johnson’s resignation has caused people to question whether rental reform changes will proceed and what measures will be introduced. It certainly now seems unlikely that any measures will be introduced before the end of the year unless the new PM decides to make rental reform a priority. Here at Callaways, we take a closer look at the latest state of play. The proposed rental reform changes Landlords have been the subject of an influx of new regulations and legislation in recent years, but more changes are underway. With councils being supported by enforcement pilots and given more power to impose fines, landlords must comply with these changes to stay compliant. Housing Secretary at the time Michael Gove put forward the White Paper “A fairer private rented sector” to reform the private rental sector and improve housing across the country. These changes will form part of the Renters’ Reform Bill which will go through parliament. Whilst we wait for a timetable for this to be confirmed, we advise landlords to prepare for the expected changes that were outlined in the White Paper. Section 21 evictions Under these new rules, Section 21 evictions will be eliminated, meaning that landlords only have the power to evict if there is a valid ground for possession. As we enter a recession and the cost-of-living crisis takes a toll on low-income households, these new guidelines could help those who face financial difficulty. But many argue they also shift powers from landlords to tenants, making it more challenging to remove anti-social or rogue tenants from a home. Blanket bans on renting to families with children and tenants who receive benefits are set to be disallowed. Meanwhile, despite the fear many landlords have of cats, dogs, or other pets causing damage to rental properties, new changes that will allow tenants to request a pet in their rental home aim to make it easier for tenants to keep pets. The government also shared plans to extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector. Letting agents and landlords already have a long list of rules and obligations to adhere to which prevent unsafe housing, but more vigorous systems will be put in place across the private rental sector under these proposals. The next steps for landlords It’s hard to know exactly when the rental reform proposals will make their way to parliament in a formal bill. Both of the leadership candidates for the next Prime Minister have promised not to rip up the manifesto that Boris Johnson won on, but neither has mentioned rental reform in their pitches to party members and there is a chance they will want to change tack. That said, the proposals have broad cross-party and public support and are already fairly far down the line – with a comprehensive White Paper setting out the government’s intentions. So whoever takes over may decide to just carry on as before. Equally, to appease landlords to a greater extent, they may decide to water down or remove certain proposals that are particularly controversial. The journey to rental reform has seen multiple delays due to Brexit, Covid-19, and the invasion of Ukraine. Boris Johnson’s successor is scheduled to be confirmed next month and many presume changes could be further adjusted to fit his/her agenda. Landlords need to start preparing for radical changes to the eviction system now, so they are ready to guide tenants through the new system when it eventually arrives. Housing improvements and rogue landlords What is certain is more robust systems, such as a new property portal, are in the works to improve housing and tackle rogue landlords. We urge Landlords to team up with a knowledgeable local letting agent to help them keep compliant and make the most of their rental property during this time of change. Here at Callaways Estate Agents, we will do all we can to help you let your property. We operate across the South Coast, including in Falmer, Worthing and Brighton & Hove, and have the experience and know-how of the local area to help you set the right price and attract the best kind of tenants. For more info about what we can offer, please get in touch with us today. You can also get a free, instant online valuation of your home, to give you an idea of how much you could be charging in rent, by clicking here.