The new Conservative government has abolished no-fault evictions and introduced lifetime deposits under new legislation aimed at improving the rental market in England.
The Renters’ Reform Bill outlined in the Queen’s Speech on Thursday – which sets out the new government’s agenda for the coming year – also gave landlords greater powers to regain possession of their property through the courts.
The database of rogue landlords – currently open only to local authorities – will be expanded as part of a range of measures designed to give renters greater security.
The removal of section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 means that tenants can only be asked to leave the rented property with a valid cause.
Landlord organisations argue the new measures could lead to a “rental housing crisis”.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA), called for improvements in the grounds for possession and in the court system, warning there could be a “mass sell-off” of buy-to-let properties if these issues were not addressed.
“We accept the need to protect tenants from abuse but it is crucial that plans to reform the way repossessions can take place are got right if the Government is to avoid a rental housing crisis,” RLA policy director David Smith said.
He continued: “Unless the new system is fair to good landlords as well as tenants, those same landlords who we need to support simply will not have the confidence to provide the rented homes that are needed to meet the demand.”
Meanwhile, the National Landlords Association (NLA) described Boris Johnson’s new reforms as “ruinous” and also warned the move could “lead to an exodus of responsible landlords from the private rented sector”.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, said: “The NLA is deeply concerned that the Government will precipitate a housing emergency, deepening the crisis of supply and affordability faced by many households. Landlords will stop letting to tenants who are perceived as higher risk and ultimately sell properties which would otherwise provide much needed homes for those who cannot afford to buy.
“If ministers do not address the problems of capacity within the Courts Service before removing landlords’ ability to use the no-fault procedure, the dramatic increase in cases that will be brought before it will bring the system to its knees.”
Under the new legislation, landlords will have more rights to take back their property through the courts, which would be made swifter and easier.
Charities such as Shelter are among those who have advocated for greater security of the more than 11 million private renters in England. Chief executive Polly Neate said the commitment to abolish no-fault evictions was a “fantastic” development
“This single change to the law will improve the lives of millions by giving private renters much-needed security and providing more stability right across the housing system,” she said.
Ms Neate continued: “Until now, renters have had to live with the constant threat of eviction, too scared to ask for essential repairs or plan for the future.
“But this nightmare will hopefully end now the Government has agreed scrapping Section 21 is a top priority.”
Campaigners at Generation Rent said the Bill was “brilliant news” for tenants.
“Ending unfair evictions will reduce homelessness and provide renters with a house they can call a home for as long as they want,” Georgie Laming, the organisation’s campaigns manager said.
The government also followed up on its manifesto pledge to introduce Lifetime Rental Deposits that allow deposits to move between landlords, instead of tenants putting down a cash lump sum at the beginning of each tenancy.
Ms Laming welcomed the move, saying lifetime deposits will “save renters taking out expensive payday loans to make end meets during a house move.”