Private renters to get new rights to challenge ‘unscrupulous landlords’

Private renters to get new rights to challenge ‘unscrupulous landlords’
Welcome for Renters Reform Bill which will also end no-fault evictions – after three-year delay

Tenants will gain new rights to challenge “unscrupulous landlords” who ramp up rents or force them to live in shoddy homes, through fresh legislation.

The Renters Reform Bill will also stop them from being locked into fixed-term tenancies and – after a three-year delay – end the scandal of no-fault evictions, ministers say.

It is being hailed by Shelter, the housing charity, as a “gamechanger for England’s 11 million private renters”, after years of inaction by successive governments.

“For the first time in a long time, tenants will be able to stand up to bad behaviour instead of living in fear,” said Polly Neate, the organisation’s chief executive.

Michael Gove, the levelling-up secretary, said the bill will:

  • Create a Private Renters’ ombudsman to allow tenants to challenge “unjustified” rent increases and settle disputes with landlords quickly and cheaply, with the power to fine landlords up to £25,000
  • Move all tenants onto periodic tenancies, allowing them to move more easily, or leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent
  • Ban Ssction 21 “no-fault” evictions which allow private renters to be kicked out of their homes for no reason, with only eight weeks’ notice
  • Extend the decent homes standard which sets minimum conditions in public housing to the private rented sector
  • Make it illegal for landlords or agents to impose blanket bans on renting to families with children or those who receive benefits
  • Make it “easier for tenants to share their homes with much-loved pets”

Mr Gove said: “For too long many private renters have been at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who fail to repair homes and let families live in damp, unsafe and cold properties, with the threat of unfair ‘no fault’ evictions orders hanging over them.

“Our new deal for renters will help to end this injustice by improving the rights and conditions for millions of renters as we level up across the country and deliver on the people’s priorities.”

The government says it recognises that the fast-rising number of private tenants often have to cope with “the most expensive, least secure, and lowest quality housing”. Rents are rising at their fastest rate for five years.

It has pledged to halve the number of poor-quality rented homes, in both the private and public sectors, by the end of the decade.

Shelter recently revealed that a tenant suffers the misery of a no-fault eviction every seven minutes, after the government repeatedly shelved its pledge to outlaw the practice.

Ms Neate urged ministers not to back down on its promises to give tenants “safety and security in their home” while ensuring landlords “play by the rules”.

“Gone will be the days of families being uprooted and children forced to move school after being slapped with a section 21 no-fault eviction for no good reason,” she said.

But Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, was more cautious, saying it was “disappointed with the detail” about stamping out no-fault evictions.

“The government proposals still mean a renter could be evicted every eight months due to no fault of their own,” she argued.