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Reforming private renting in England

stick man holding sign that says 'Reforming private renting in England'

The UK government has published plans to reform the private rented sector in England. These plans address major issues around housing quality, security and affordability. The reforms aim to make the sector a fairer place for people to live in. 

Improving housing standards for private renters

The government’s policy paper A Fairer Private Sector acknowledges the poor quality housing that currently exists in the private rented sector, stating that 1 in 5 private renters in England live in poor quality homes. To address this, the government plans to
•    extend the decent homes standard that already exists in social housing to the private sector
•    halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030

Giving private renters a more secure home

A stable home is crucial for employment, education and social support. But tenants can be easily evicted and 22% of private renters who moved between 2019 to 2020 did not end their tenancy by choice. 
The paper flags up the cost of having to frequently move home, noting that many renters end up with no choice but to sign up to more expensive contracts. To address this, the government plans to 
•    abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions
•    allow landlords to evict renters involved in antisocial behaviour more quickly
•    introduce new grounds to let landlords evict tenants if they want to sell the property or if the tenant is in persistent arrears 

Addressing affordability issues for private renters

The rising costs of rent can make it difficult for people to find affordable rented housing. Almost 11,000 households, who responded to the recent English Housing Survey, said they had to move because their rent increased. 
The paper also points out that many private renters have no savings and struggle to pay a deposit and rent in advance. To address affordability issues, the government plans to 
•    restrict rent increases to one per year
•    ban rent review clauses in contracts 
•    improve tenants’ ability to challenge excessive rent increases through the First Tier Tribunal 
•    develop deposit 'passports' that can transfer between properties

Help for renters when things go wrong 

When a tenant has a problem with a private landlord, there are currently few options open to them. The government want to make it easier for private renters to hold landlords to account. The policy paper proposes to 
•    introduce a new single ombudsman that all private landlords must join
•    address unacceptable delays in court proceedings

Improving fairness and equality for private renters

Due to the high level of demand for private rented sector properties, landlords have their pick of tenants. This can lead to discrimination or unfair contract conditions. To address this issue, the government plans to 
•    make it illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on certain tenants, such as people on benefits or families with children
•    give tenants the right to ask for permission to have a pet and ensure the landlord can only refuse with a good reason

Reforming the private rented sector in Northern Ireland

The changes outlined in the government’s policy paper will not apply to Northern Ireland. Earlier this year, the Northern Ireland Assembly passed the Private Tenancies Act (NI) 2022, which aims to reform aspects of the private rented sector in Northern Ireland. 

Tagged In

Private Tenants Forum, Private Tenancies, Affordability

This article was written on 18 July 2022. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.