This bill seeks to strike a balance between the needs of both tenants and landlords, recognizing the crucial role played by the private rented sector in the housing industry. Here are some key takeaways from the second reading:
- Section 21 Abolishment: A contentious issue, the bill proposes the abolishment of Section 21. However, this change will only occur when the court system is fully prepared. Concerns have been raised about potential court backlogs affecting eviction timelines.
- Flexible Tenancies: Fixed-term tenancies are on the way out, offering more flexibility for both landlords and tenants.
- Impact on Student Rentals: The bill acknowledges the unique challenges in the student rental market and aims to consider its impact.
- Decent Homes Standard: This benchmark for property quality is making a comeback and may be included within the bill's scope.
- Stronger Grounds for Eviction: Section 8 grounds, dealing with issues like anti-social behavior, are set to be fortified with clearer guidance.
- Tenant Rights: The bill intends to enhance tenant rights by banning landlords from refusing children, benefit recipients, and pets, with more guidance expected in due course.
Another significant change is the introduction of the Property Portal, which will serve as a vital tool for national and local governments, requiring all landlords to sign up. However, the cost of joining this portal is yet to be confirmed.
In terms of timelines, the government aims to complete all bill stages within the House of Commons and House of Lords by the end of this year. The bill is expected to receive Royal Assent in spring 2024. The first implementation phase will follow six months after Royal Assent, though this timeline is subject to change based on any amendments.
Notably, Section 21's abolishment is delayed until the court system can fully support a new eviction process, a decision supported by many agencies.
In other news, the government has decided to abandon proposed changes to Minimum Efficiency Standards (MEES). This means that landlords no longer face a hard deadline to upgrade properties rated D or below. Currently, landlords must ensure that their properties in England and Wales have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E or above.
These changes present a mix of challenges and opportunities for both landlords and tenants. As these bills progress through Parliament, we'll provide updates to keep you informed about the evolving rental landscape. If you have questions or need more information, please feel free to reach out to our team.