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Oct 2023

Section 21 rental reform postponed indefinitely

Section 21 rental reform postponed indefinitely

Housing secretary Michael Gove has kicked plans to abolish Section 21 as part of the The Renters (Reform) Bill into the long grass, parliament was told. The proposed bill which returned to the House of Commons in October is set to make the private rental sector fairer for both landlords and tenants. However, the government has announced that it will not for now proceed with abolishing Section 21, which allows landlords to carry out no fault evictions, until the court process has been digitalised to speed up the process, tenants are given early access to legal advice and more bailiffs are recruited. It also wants to prioritise anti-social behaviours cases, mandating that tenancy agreements should have clauses that antisocial behaviour can result in an eviction.

The government will implement changes to the student rental market, recognising that the student market is cyclical and that landlords must be able to guarantee possession each year for a new set of tenants, and will introduce a new ground for possession to facilitate this.

Landlords will also be able to charge tenants for insurance against pet damage, or to require tenants to take out a policy, to ensure landlords can have confidence that all costs will fall to the tenant. While landlords will need to consider requests for pets on a case-by-case basis, they can refuse animals if it is reasonable. The Renters (Reform) Bill states that a landlord may also refuse if a superior lease prevents the keeping of pets in a property. While a tenant may challenge a decision, they have no automatic right to keep the pet if the landlord initially refuses. The tenant would not be permitted to keep the pet unless and until the Ombudsman or court ruled that the landlord had been unreasonable.

The Renters (Reform) Bill also outlines the creation of new private renters’ ombudsman that all landlords must join. The proposed changes, announced in October, are to “address the gap in housing redress in relation to private sector tenant complaints.” This means a focus on strengthening the mediation process, so cases do not have to immediately go to court. The government is still looking at different options around how the ombudsman service will be delivered, including how it fits within the existing landscape of agency redress schemes.

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