The housing landscape has fundamentally changed since the introduction of the Housing Act 1988 – an Act that covers both the social and the private rented sector, as well as providing the tenure framework for a number of other landlords. With one in five households now in the private rented sector, with more families with children and older people renting their homes, it is time for a generational change to renting which better meets the needs of this important market.
Yesterday therefore, my Department launched a number of consultations, which will take forward this Government’s commitment to protect tenants, support landlords, drive up standards in the rental sector and make the housing market fairer for everyone.
Cracking down on rogue landlords
The Government is determined that those renting their homes are not forced into inadequate or unsafe housing. The majority of landlords and property agents in the private rented sector provide decent and well-managed accommodation, but there is a small number who knowingly flout their legal obligations and rent out substandard accommodation. These few criminals account for a disproportionate amount of the 25% of private rented homes which are non-decent.
The Prime Minister committed to widen access to information on the database of rogue landlords and property agents to tenants. In its current form, the database is viewable only to local authorities. It is targeted at the most serious and prolific criminals, those who have been convicted of specified banning order offences such as failure to make a property habitable when instructed by the local authority, through to serious crimes such as specified drug and sexual offences.
Our consultation, ‘Rogue Landlord Database Reform: Widening Access and Considering the Scope of the Database of Rogue Landlords and Property Agents’, seeks views on how to open-up the database so tenants can know more about the landlord who they plan to, from or already rent from. We also want to consider the scope of the database, this consultation therefore also seeks views on whether the database should cover a wider range of relevant criminal, civil and housing regulation breaches to help further raise standards across the sector.
Abolishing section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions and supporting landlords to reclaim their property
On 15 April, I announced plans to abolish section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, putting an end to so-called ‘no fault’ evictions and giving tenants the certainty that they will not be asked to leave their home without a valid reason.
The Government wants to deliver a balanced and effective tenancy regime that is fair to both landlords and tenants and yesterday published ‘A New Deal for Renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants’. This consultation seeks views on how tenancies should operate in future. It is the first step in a journey that will deliver on our commitment to bring greater fairness and transparency to tenants and ensure they have the security they need to plan for the future.
The consultation also proposes three new grounds and asks for views on the current grounds for eviction and how they can be improved. Landlords should have confidence that they will be able to regain possession of their property if they need to, and the consultation further explores whether the courts could use the accelerated procedure for dealing with possession order applications under some or all of the mandatory grounds in section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.
Taken together, the reforms proposed across these two consultations will build on government action to drive up standards across the sector, deliver the rental sector the country deserves and needs, and create a housing market that works for everyone.
Protecting residents of park homes
Finally, we have also published a consultation seeking views on how the fit and proper person test for park homes sites will work in practice. In the Government response to the review of park homes legislation, we committed to introducing the test subject to a technical consultation to ensure the effective operation of the test. When implemented, the test will strengthen local authorities’ powers to target the worst offenders and remove unscrupulous and criminal site operators from the park homes sector.
I am making a copy of all consultations available in the Library.