Why the Government has delayed a White Paper on Rental Reform

November 12, 2021Categories: Landlords, Tenants
Why the Government has delayed a White Paper on Rental Reform

It has been announced that a long awaited White Paper on Rental Reform is to be delayed and won’t be published until next year but what does this mean to landlords, and what could be expected in the months ahead? Here we explain.

What is the White Paper?

Way back in April 2019 the government asked for opinions on proposals to abolish Section 21 evictions – sometimes referred to as ‘no fault’ evictions – and asked for views on how this section of the Housing Act 1988 had been used in the past and, if it was abolished, in what circumstances landlords should be able to regain possession. As a leading lettings agency we contributed to the consultation through our parent company, LSL; giving our views from an industry perspective and, as part of this, considering the impact that the proposals would have on landlords. 

There was then further commitment from the Conservative party – in their election manifesto – to introduce a Renters Reform Bill that would repeal Section 21 and which, more recently, has been mentioned in the Queens Speech in May 2021. And this time it was announced that, as well as other plans, the government would publish a White Paper in the autumn – ahead of any legislation - detailing a reform package.  This may also include a draft version of the Bill they will propose.

So how does the White Paper on Rental Reform affect landlords?

The reform package is expected to include a requirement for all private landlords to belong to a redress scheme and there could also be further reforms of the private rental sector enforcement system and improvements to the possession process in the courts.

There are also suggestions that the government will introduce Lifetime Deposits for tenants when moving property. This will mean a tenant transfers their deposit from one landlord to the next when they move.

Why has there been a delay to the White Paper?

As highlighted in a recent Your Move blog, whilst the White Paper was expected to be released this autumn  Eddie Hughes, minister for rough sleeping and housing at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities explained “that meetings and consultations were still underway to discuss the Paper.” He also reiterated that he was keen that there were no “unintentional consequences.” as a result of the actions they propose.

Now the government has officially informed stakeholders that the White Paper will be published in 2022; to give ministers more time to consult with the lettings sector and to also take into account the National Audit Office’s (NAO’s) review of regulation of the private rented sector.

What influence has the NAO on rental reform?

The role of the NAO, which is independent of both central and local government, is to look at public spending for Parliament and to audit the financial statements of all government departments. In respect of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, it will study the Regulation of Private Renting and whether the government has a clear plan to ‘make renting fairer for renters’ looking at whether the department has the powers to support landlords to do this and to also comply with the regulations and existing laws within the rental sector – which it will also review. It is also due to report on whether ‘consumers are empowered to enforce their rights when things go wrong, and whether regulatory interventions are targeted at those in most need’.

What is expected to happen next?

It’s a bit of a waiting game now. It’s hoped more news will come early next year and, once the White Paper is released, it’s likely that there will be more discussion and invitations to stakeholders to comment on it – before the Renters Reform Bill is presented to Parliament.

As always we’ll be monitoring developments closely and will bring you further news as we hear it. If you’ve not already done so, you might like to subscribe to our Landlord Newsletter which provides ongoing advice, news and information for landlords or please check out the blogs on our site – on a regular basis.

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