It all began during the final months of Theresa May’s premiership – a proposal to scrap Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, which has given landlords the right to seek repossession through no-fault evictions.
The proposed scrappage was met with criticism from organisations representing the interests of landlords, such as ARLA Propertymark, the National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), but welcomed warmly by pressure groups arguing for greater rights for tenants, such as Generation Rent.
Following a consultation, the inclusion of the proposed scrappage in the Conservative 2019 election manifesto, and now its inclusion as part of the Queen’s Speech, in the form of a Renters’ Reform Bill, what can we expect to happen?
The second Queen’s Speech of 2019
Some readers may be getting a feeling of déjà vu, at the sound of another Queen’s Speech. The previous Speech, held in October, preceded the general election campaign itself. Held on 19th December, this second Speech was a somewhat more pared-down affair, but its impact on the housing market was still noticeable.
The policies outlined in the second Queen’s Speech of 2019 laid out the intentions of Boris Johnson’s government clearly, with regard to Section 21. The official document, as presented by Downing Street, lays out what is dubbed a package of reforms to deliver a fairer and more effective rental market.
The Bill aims to scrap Section 21, while empowering landlords to seek possession through the courts, by working to quicken the pace at which properties can be returned to them.
The addition of a new lifetime deposit now means tenants won’t be required to save for a new deposit, each time they move from house to house.
As well as this, the government intends to implement measures which will allow greater access for the general public for a database which provides details about so-called rogue landlords and property agents. The aim is to ensure that tenants can make a more informed decision, when seeking somewhere to rent.
How will the Renters’ Reform Bill come to life?
A Renters’ Reform Bill is to be presented before Parliament, passing through the Commons for a number of readings and a committee stage.
Passing through the Commons will allow the Bill to proceed to the Upper House, the House of Lords, where peers will also conduct a number of readings as well as a committee stage of their own.
Easy passage for the Bill in both Houses will be followed by consideration of any amendments, before the Bill allowed to receive royal assent, before being passed into law.
Reaction to Section 21 scrappage
The RLA reacted to news of the scrappage of Section 21 being included in this month’s Queen’s Speech, claiming landlords were warning of an imminent rental crisis, which could result in a sell-off of homes.
The association warned that the government must make sure that landlords had complete confidence in the new system of repossession, in a post-Section 21 environment, or risk resulting in a situation where renters struggled to find suitable rental properties.
David Smith, policy director at the RLA, claimed: “Unless the new system is fair to good landlords as well as tenants, those same landlords we need to support simply will not have the confidence to provide the rented homes that are needed to meet demand.”
In contrast, Georgie Laming, campaigns manager at Generation Rent, welcomed the news. Speaking to Property Notify, she said: “The new Renters’ Reform Bill is brilliant news for renters. It’s proof that the government is finally recognising that the unique challenges of Generation Rent need to be addressed head-on.
“Ending unfair evictions will reduce homelessness and provide renters with a house they can call a home, for as long as they want. Lifetime deposits will also save renters taking out expensive payday loans to make ends meet, during a house move.”