Queen’s Speech: Government to launch radical White Paper on PRS reform

Queen's Speech: Government to launch radical White Paper on PRS reform

Wednesday 12th May 2021
Landlord Zone

The government has promised to introduce its Renters Reform Bill in the autumn which will include details on abolishing Section 21 'no fault' evictions.

Eighteen months after she first announced the Bill, the Queen's Speech included its intention to enhance renters' rights in a White Paper outlining plans to improve security for tenants in the private rented sector, as well as strengthening repossession grounds for landlords when they have valid cause.

It will include proposals for a new 'lifetime' tenancy deposit model and bring forward reforms to drive improvements in standards, including by ensuring all tenants have a right to redress. It also promises to explore the merits of a landlord register.

In its background briefing, the government says it will consider a set of measures to hold bad landlords to account for delivering safe and decent housing to tenants without penalising good landlords.

The legislation will also explore improvements and possible efficiencies to the possession process in the courts, to make it quicker and easier for landlords and tenants to use.

Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action, says: "It was expected that the Queen would make reference to the Renters Reform Bill; I've been predicting for a while that Section 21 will be abolished in the next 12-18 months, but there has to be reforms of the Section 8 Grounds and major investment made in the Court System coupled to bailiff reforms, especially in the wake of Covid and the lengthy evictions ban".

Ground rents
The Queen's Speech also included a promise to end the practice of ground rents for new leasehold properties, a new building safety regulator and to modernise the planning system so that more homes can be built.

Many leaseholders face high charges increased by freeholders over the years, making selling a leasehold property with cladding conditions attached extremely difficult.

The government also plans to spread opportunity across the UK and deliver a national recovery from the pandemic.

The Queen said: "To achieve this, my government will level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, businesses and economic growth and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services."

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association said: "We welcome the Government's commitment to publish a White Paper on reforms to the rental sector and consult widely before introducing a Bill.

"What is proposed amounts to some of the biggest changes in the private rented sector for over 30 years. We urge the Government and all others in the sector to use the time they now have to ensure that the reforms are fair and workable for both tenants and landlords.

"This must include comprehensive grounds upon which landlords can legitimately repossess properties, the development of a new tenant-landlord conciliation service to help sustain tenancies wherever possible and court reform to ensure possession cases are dealt with much quicker than the year or more currently being taken.

"Lifetime deposits for tenants provide an opportunity to reduce the upfront cost of renting, but they need to work for all concerned.

"We welcome also the Government's ambitions to drive out bad landlords from the sector without penalising those who do the right thing. We want to root out all those who bring the sector into disrepute."

Timothy Douglas, Policy and Campaigns Manager, Propertymark says: "The announcement in today's Queen's Speech that the UK Government will publish a Renters Reform White Paper in the Autumn demonstrates that Ministers are prepared to engage with the industry to understand the impact any substantial legislative changes will have on those involved in the private rented sector.

"With the focus of the new package on lifetime deposits, landlord redress and greater enforcement, the UK Government must look at ensuring that a system that would allow deposits to be passported can only take place if there is a bridging loan, with the UK Government as the guarantor, in order to ensure the remaining part of the deposit is covered should the tenant default.

"Additionally, the UK Government must prevent 'double jeopardy' and only extend redress membership to properties that are fully managed.

"Propertymark will be engaging with MHCLG and MPs to ensure they fully understand the consequences of any changes. We will also be scrutinising the White Paper and proposed legislation, to ensure the best possible outcome for our members."