The Renters (Reform) Bill was worthy of a mention by our King – but, by "no fault" of its own – can it live up to the prediction that it will be a 'once-in-a-generation overhaul of housing laws'?
This long awaited piece of legislation was included in King Charles' first ever King's Speech on 7 November 2023. In his speech, the King said; "Renters will benefit from stronger security of tenure and better value, while landlords will benefit from reforms to provide certainty that they can regain their properties when needed".
The Bill certainly promises a fairer and more efficient rental system that works well for both tenants and landlords.
The main reforms under the Bill are that it will make it easier for landlords to recover possession of rental properties if they wish to sell, if they or a relative wish to live in the property themselves, or where a tenant is "wilfully" failing to pay the rent.
However, it will be favourable to tenants as promises an end to "no fault" evictions. Many housing charities have been calling for this change a long time. According to the charity Shelter, 24,060 households were threatened with homelessness in England as a result of Section 21 "no-fault" evictions in 2022. This figure is 50 per cent higher than in 2021.
BUT (and it is a big BUT) – the abolition of "no fault" evictions will not be fully implemented until some very lengthy reforms to our court system are completed. The current court system is still arguably feeling the pressure of the delays caused by the pandemic and the increased digitisation of the courts process has been pledged for many years (with no visible results). Given the looming General Election next year, it seems unlikely that the current Government will therefore have time to complete these reforms before voters return to the polls.
As a result, although the Bill could become law very soon, the inevitable delay of its promise to bring an end to "no fault" evictions somewhat sterilises its affect as a 'once-in-a-generation overhaul of housing laws' through "no fault" of its own. Renters and landlords therefore arguably face even more uncertainty than they did before.
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