The government has launched a 12-week consultation, to set out how changes to tenancy law in England would work in practice, as one of the final moves made by Theresa May, before leaving office this month. ARLA Propertymark has also revealed it is now an active participant in the consultation.
Mrs May’s government proposed the scrappage of Section 21 eviction notices, which are used by landlords as part of no-fault evictions. However, Mrs May faced criticism from landlords and associations, who believed the move would open the door to indefinite tenancies.
The government argued that it wished to ensure that evictions would be carried out, only if landlords could provide a good reason, without subjecting tenants to evictions at short notice.
Other reforms proposed
As well as consulting on changes regarding Section 21, the government consultation on tenancy reform will focus on proposals such as amending Section 8 eviction procedures, allowing landlords to have a smoother process, when seeking repossession through the courts.
The consultation is to be carried out in a non-retrospective fashion, with existing tenancies remaining unaffected by current proposals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) intends to work with the Ministry of Justice, concerning reforms involving court procedures.
This departmental collaboration is understood to be in place to ensure that the court process for repossessions will be increasingly digitalised and that procedures can be run at a quicker pace.
Impact of proposals
ARLA Propertymark was keen to stress that the effects of recent changes, especially the recent tenant fees ban, were not yet being fully felt, and that the government must not underestimate the potential impact of its tenancy reform proposals on landlords.
David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, explained: “Strengthening Section 8 is essential, and it must move to a system of mandatory grounds with anti-social behaviour and rent arrears being top of the priority list.”
Mr Cox added that the private rented sector (PRS) had succeeded greatly, specifically because there was great flexibility within the PRS market for landlords and tenants alike. ARLA Propertymark revealed it was already engaged with the government in the consultation.
It was specifically hoping to ensure that barriers to longer tenancies could be overcome, and that there could be sufficient evidence presented, when it comes to understanding and seeking to improve the experience of people using the courts in property cases.
Mr Cox looked to the tenancy reform consultation, saying: “The government must make changes based on tenant behaviour, not just demographic change amongst renters. Reform to the justice system is vital, and digitalisation, privatising bailiffs and investing to ensure a properly functioning system, must be advanced in order that confidence amongst landlords and within the sector is maintained.”