Another Friday and a fair number of things to report on during the past week. Lets start with
The Queen’s Speech
What did her Majesty have to say about new laws for the Private Rented Sector?
The speech contained the words ‘enhancing the rights of those who rent’ but a closer analysis of the briefing paper shows no immediate intention to remove section 21. Instead, the government is committing to publishing a white paper in response to the original consultation on getting rid of s21. Not quite the same.
There is also talk of lifetime deposits, landlord registers and landlord redress schemes.
Mind you, as I understand most of the civil servants who were dealing with the Tenants Reform Bill have been moved to other ‘covid related’ work, it is hardly surprising that the Renters Reform Bill is effectively being kicked into the long grass (for now).
The Eviction Ban – the end is in sight
We have some news on what is going to happen – unusually this was announced on a Wednesday and not the Friday immediately before they were due to come into effect! So what is happening? (Note that these announcements are for England only):
New Notice Periods
The announcement is here.
- Notice periods fors21 notices will go down to four months from 1 June until the end of September.
- The s21 ‘use it or lose it’ rules will be amended accordingly to allow landlords 6 months from expiry of the notice to take action
- Most section 8 notices will have a new notice period of 4 months but
- Notice grounds which were already at pre covid levels will remain unchanged
- Rent arrears notices (grounds 8, 10 and 11) will have a notice period of 2 months
- Unless the rent arrears exceed the equivalent of four months’ rent at the time the notice is served when the notice period will be 4 weeks
As a result of all this, many landlords should consider re-serving their notices in early June, or defer serving until then.
Tenants in arrears should do all they can to clear them.
The stay on bailiff enforcement will end on 1 June, so landlords will then be able to enforce possession orders they have obtained, although bailiffs have been instructed not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has Covid-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.
However, the number of actual evictions is going to be limited to how many bailiffs can actually carry out. So there is unlikely to be a massive burst of people thrown out on the street, although no doubt there will be some very sad stories.
Needless to say there is much concern about the ending of the eviction ban. Ben Beadle (CEO of the NRLA) saying
It does nothing … to address the rent debt crisis. With the number of private tenants in arrears having increased threefold since lockdown measures started, more are at risk of losing their homes as restrictions ease.
We want to see tenancies sustained wherever possible and call on the Chancellor to step in and provide affected tenants with the financial support they need to pay off rent arrears built as a result of the pandemic
Mark Hayward, chief policy advisor at Propertymark, commented:
Whilst the reduced notice periods are still longer than pre-Covid, it is pleasing to see the UK government continuing to provide financial support to tenants, combatting rent arrears as well as providing clarity for the rental sector as we navigate the easing of restrictions.
There is also the problem that many landlords whose tenants have not paid rent, will not be able to afford to do anything other than sell their properties once possession has been recovered. Meaning that unless the property is bought by another landlord, it will no longer be available to those who can’t afford to buy.
It does look as if we have a very serious problem indeed coming unless the government can provide some financial support for these hapless tenants and their landlords.
The Fire Safety Act 2021
This has now received the Royal Assent. It amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and aims to make it clearer where responsibility for fire safety lies in buildings containing more than one home.
It applies to all non-domestic premises, including communal areas of residential buildings with multiple homes. Those in control now have a duty to undertake assessments and manage risks.
The rules will be enforced by Fire and Rescue Authorities
Newsround will be back next week