Rental Reform White Paper made simple for landlords and tenants

By Mountgrange Heritage September 2022

The government has released its long-awaited Renters Reform white paper that gives proposals aimed at redressing the balance between landlords and private renters in England and includes the proposal to abolish section 21 notices. With these changes the government aims to “strike a balance between protecting tenants’ security and landlords’ right to manage their property”. 

The white paper says that “too many tenants face a lack of security that hits aspiration and makes life harder for families” and that “the prospect of being evicted without reason at two months’ notice can leave tenants feeling anxious and reluctant to challenge poor practice”. 

57% of landlords have said their biggest concern is increasing compliance requirements*, so we want to help you understand these proposed changes and be on hand to support you if needed.

Key announcements summary –

Creating indefinite tenancies

• Section 21, known as ‘no fault’ eviction, will be abolished

• Fixed term contacts will be outlawed and replaced with a single system of periodic tenancies, effectively introducing the notion of indefinite tenancies

• Tenants will be able to end a tenancy by giving 2 months’ notice at any time

Written tenancy agreements

• Written tenancy agreements will be mandatory

• Special Terms will be allowed

• Tenants must keep property in good condition and allow access for repairs and maintenance

• Landlords can get injunctions to allow access to a property if a tenant refuses

Reform of grounds for possession

• All the 14 day notice periods for using grounds for possession will double to 1 month

• 2 months’ notice will be required where circumstances are beyond the control of the tenant

• New mandatory grounds introduced for landlords wishing to sell or for ‘immediate family members’(yet to be definitely) moving in

• New mandatory ground for repeated serious arrears, where the tenant has been in at least 2 months’ arrears at least 3 times in the previous 3 years

• Holiday Let ground abolished – effectively banning the practice of landlords in holiday destinations offering short term lets over the summer followed by a longer term tenant over the winter

• Notice period for anti-social behaviour and rioting lowered to 2 weeks

• Deregulation Act requirements abolished except Tenancy Deposit Protection

• Several specific new grounds for things like agricultural tenancies, shared ownership and sheltered accommodation 

Restrictions on rent increases

• Rent increases will only be allowed once per year

• Notice period for rent increases to be doubled (from 1 month to 2)

• You’ll no longer be able to include rent review clauses in contracts

• Tenants can appeal to First-tier Tribunal if they feel a proposed rent increase is unfair

Ban on renting to families with children or those on benefits to be outlawed

• It will be illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits

• Decisions must be based on individual circumstances

Tenant given more right to keep pets in properties

• It will be made it easier for tenants to have pets, a right which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse

• Landlords will not be able to unreasonably withhold consent for a tenant to have a pet

• Pet insurance strongly encouraged and will be added as a “Permitted Payment” under the Tenant Fees Act 

Other key announcements in the white paper

• A new single Ombudsman to improve dispute resolution, covers all private landlords, regardless of whether they use an agent

• Powers will include making landlords: Apologise, provide information, take remedial action, reimburse rent, pay compensation of up to £25,000 

• All landlords must register on a new “Property Portal”, which is in effect the expected landlords register. This will be enforced by local authorities and it will incorporate the Database of Rogue Landlords and Agents, which will be made public.

• Properties in the private rental sector must meet the “Decent Homes Standard”. 21% of Private Rented Sector housing is currently non-decent.

• Landlords should allow tenant modifications to their homes, under the goal of wanting to help tenants make their house a home.

• Lifetime deposits will rely on market-led solutions rather than any immediate government intervention to make them mandatory.

• There will be no new housing court. Instead, there will be a “package of reforms” that will target the areas holding up proceedings.

Implementation of the proposed changes

The government will transition to the new system in two stages, with at least six months’ notice of the dates that they will take effect, and at least 12 months between the two dates. 

▪ Stage one will transition all new tenancies to periodic, governed by the new rules

▪ Stage two will move all existing tenancies to the new system

The government has outlined that the Renters’ Reform Bill, including these measures to abolish section 21, will be “introduced in this parliamentary session”.

This is intended as a guide, be sure to check the official government website for any updates regarding any news or changes regarding the Rental Reform White Paper.