‘No-fault’ evictions to be banned in ‘once-in-a-generation’ renting shake-up after four years of delays

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The Tories promised to ban the evictions in their 2019 election manifesto, but the plans have only just been announced

A “once-in-a-generation” overhaul of the private rental sector in England has been unveiled by the government which will ban landlords from evicting tenants with no justification.

The plan to abolish so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions was initially promised by the Conservatives in the party’s 2019 election manifesto, but it has only just been introduced to Parliament after four years of delays.

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The Renters’ (Reform) Bill will affect millions of tenants in England and will allow people to challenge poor landlords without losing their home. Renters will also be given the legal right to request a pet in their home, which landlords must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.

The law would also make it illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to families with children, or to those claiming benefits, and would apply home quality standards to the private rented sector for the first time.’

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said a new ombudsman will be set up to oversee dispute resolutions, as well as a digital “property portal” to assist property managers in understanding their obligations.

The Renters’ (Reform) Bill will allow people to challenge poor landlords without losing their home (Photo: Getty Images)The Renters’ (Reform) Bill will allow people to challenge poor landlords without losing their home (Photo: Getty Images)
The Renters’ (Reform) Bill will allow people to challenge poor landlords without losing their home (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Gove said the plans represent a “new deal” which has “fairness at its heart”. He said: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them.

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“This government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a new deal to those living in the private rented sector; one with quality, affordability and fairness at its heart.”

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) says its plans will affect 11 million tenants in England and two million landlords. It says landlords would be more easily able to evict anti-social tenants, and the number of disruptive and harmful activities that can lead to eviction will be broadened.

Notice periods will also be reduced where renters have been “irresponsible”, such as by breaching their tenancy agreement or causing damage to the property, the government said.

Campaigners welcomed the “once-in-a-generation” announcement, with Generation Rent saying the legislation is a “huge opportunity” to improve the lives of tenants across England.

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Dan Wilson Craw, acting director of the campaign group, said: “Abolishing (no-fault evictions) will take away much of the stress of renting and improve communication and trust between tenants and landlords. The new property portal and ombudsman have the potential to make it much harder for criminal landlords to operate.

“These reforms wouldn’t be happening without the tireless campaigning of members of the Renters Reform Coalition and thousands of renters over many years.”

Martin Lewis, founder of the MoneySavingExpert.com website, said he was “pleased” at the introduction of a statutory ombudsman to compel apologies and take remedial action, while Battersea Cats & Dogs Home praised giving renters the right to request a pet in their home.

Michael Webb, head of policy and public affairs at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home, said tenants being unable to find anywhere to rent with their pet is a key reason why many people take their animals to the home.

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He said: “Not only will this Bill bring us one step closer to significantly reducing the number of dogs and cats we see being needlessly separated from their owners, it will also open up the many joys of pet ownership to millions of renters in the future.”

But critics argue that the reforms are “long overdue” and say the Bill fails to protect tenants from rent hikes being used to circumvent the new rules. Siobhan Donnachie, spokeswoman for the London Renters Union, said “inflation-busting rent” will mean renters will still feel insecure.

She explained: “Bringing an end to the blight of no-fault evictions is long overdue. Too many families have been forced into homelessness in the four years since the Tories promised to end this cruel legislation.

“But there is nothing in this Bill banning the huge and unfair rent increases our members are facing all of the time. For the many families struggling with housing costs at the moment, a 20% rent hike is simply a no-fault eviction under a different name.

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“If the government is serious about bringing renters security in our homes, it must recognise how insecure renters feel speaking out against unsafe housing or planning for the future with the threat of inflation-busting rent increases hanging over our heads.”

Meanwhile, Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, suggested that the Bill lacks detail, saying: “Responsible landlords need to be confident that when Section 21 ends, where they have a legitimate reason, they will be able to repossess their properties as quickly as possible.

“Without this assurance, the Bill will only exacerbate the rental housing supply crisis many tenants now face.”

Shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy criticised the government for “years of delay” in introducing the plans, saying it comes after four years of “broken promises” which has left the private rented sector resembling “the wild west”.

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The Bill delivers on a 2019 Tory manifesto pledge to scrap Section 21 no-fault evictions and follows calls from campaigners to reform the private rental sector. It is understood it will be published in full later on Wednesday, with a second reading in several weeks.

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