A quick look at my inbox over recent months goes to highlight the approach required when considering the Renters’ (Reform) Bill.
Broadly, of course, the majority of renters treat their home with respect and the conduct of most landlords is right and proper.
We know, however, that there are those who unfortunately do not fit into either of these categories.
The relationship between tenant and landlord is integral. We need to see reforms which will benefit both.
At the last General Election I stood on a manifesto to bring in a better deal for renters and strengthen the rights of possession of good landlords.
The Bill will provide assurances for tenants and end ‘no fault’ evictions; moving to a simpler tenancy structure where all assured tenancies are periodic. This will see more security for tenants and also empower them to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without the fear of eviction.
This legislation builds on progress already made on protections for tenants over the last decade. This includes providing councils with stronger powers to drive criminal landlords out of the market by introducing Banning Orders through the Housing & Planning Act 2016, as well as shielding tenants from excessive deposits and fees through the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
Additionally, tenants will be given the legal right to request a pet in their home. The landlord must consider such a request and cannot unreasonably refuse: landlords will be able to require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property.
Government will also apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time. This will remove the blight of poor-quality homes in local communities and give renters safer and higher-quality homes.
It is right that these reforms also enhance protections for those landlords which are well-meaning. As things stand, they can face challenges when evicting tenants who wilfully do not pay rent or exhibit anti-social behaviour, and are being undercut by a minority of criminal landlords.
The Bill strengthens rights of possession of good landlords and also speeds up the courts process: ensuring landlords have confidence they can regain possession quickly when they need to.
New possession grounds have been included by Government to make it quicker to evict tenants at fault. Landlords will be able to make claims to court immediately for anti-social behaviour and lowering the threshold for eviction. Court reforms will speed up and simplify the procedure: digitising the end-to-end process and working with the courts on how to prioritise the most serious cases. The Government have confirmed it will align implementation of the new tenancy regime with this reformed court process.
I look forward to this legislation being debated in Parliament.
Henry Smith MP