Is the delay in the Renters Reform Bill being passed a missed opportunity for much needed updating for landlord and tenant law?

24 Nov 2020 | William Ford

There have been issues tenants have faced for a long time before pandemic; namely no fault evictions and the other is raising a deposit.

In the pipeline for this year was the Renters Reform Bill. This was supposed to, if passed, remove the Section 21 (“s.21”) notice procedure as an avenue for removing tenants and allow for lifetime deposits to exist.

As early as 15 April 2019, the Government announced that private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants at short notice or without good reason. This was a direct response to the longstanding impact s.21 notices have on tenants. A s.21 notice is known as a no fault eviction and allows landlords the ability to evict a tenant without the need to justify the reason for an eviction. Whilst over the years, the use of a s.21 notice has been more difficult, provided a valid notice is served the Court has to grant possession to the landlord.

Not all landlords are bad and solicitors are normally instructed in the worst case scenario where a tenant faces harassment, disrepair or eviction. Occasionally it is all three. Some of the issues solicitors find their clients in a private rented property experience are:

  1. Fear of raising a repair request;
  2. Fear of challenging a landlord’s insistence of entering their property without notice;
  3. Accepting a rent increase;
  4. Letting the landlord turn off the gas or water and
  5. Taking steps to avoid doing anything to upset their landlord.

The fear stems from the landlord’s ability to use a s.21 notice to evict them. The thought of having to re-settle elsewhere is often overwhelming.

The lack of security of tenure in a property has made some clients live in fear of an eviction and feel less settled than those in long term tenancies.

Their removal of the s.21 notice procedure does not mean that there is a free for all for tenants. In fact it means that provided the tenant adheres to the tenancy agreement, for example by paying rent regularly, the contract continues. This would surely mean that there is a stable market for both renters and landlords. The tenant doesn’t have to live in fear. Also the landlord will be protected through the terms of the tenancy agreement and the many other grounds for eviction available.

Another proposed change by the Renters Reform Bill is that there would be a lifetime deposit for tenants. This was announced in December 2019 by the Queen, the specific details are yet to be finalised. However the idea is that a tenant would not need to raise money for a deposit each time they move, but it would follow them to new properties they move to.  The actual ability for tenants in the private rented sector to raise a deposit each time they move to a new property is difficult. However the current system is set up for the tenant to receive the deposit back from whichever government scheme is holding the deposit. Without seeing specific details, it is not clear how effective this would be for tenants. However it is understood the aim is to make a move more fluid for both landlord and tenant.

Baroness Lawrence has produced a report called An Avoidable Crisis The disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities (“the report”). There are a number of recommendations within the report for the government to implement, for full details please click here

The report calls for the Renters Reform Bill to go further in particular the report provides:

Research by Shelter has found that four in 10 landlords admitted that “prejudices and stereotypes” come into letting decisions. [1]    

This is exacerbated by the Government’s right to rent policy, which has been found to lead to discrimination in the housing market. [2]    

  • The Government should urgently bring forward emergency legislation to protect renters in this crisis, and ensure that its Renters Reform Bill includes measures to tackle racial discrimination in the private rental market.
  • The Government should raise the local housing allowance to the level of local average rents, to ensure low-income households are not forced into debt eviction and homelessness during the crisis.

The report flags up the issue of discrimination, and highlights that being a tenant reliant on housing benefit poses financial barriers too. Raising the local housing allowance would see a willingness for landlords to rent people on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit (“DSS”). The Renters Reform Bill may be a way to prevent discrimination faced by people trying to rent in the private rental market and dependent on DSS. This is a real issue many tenants face, earlier this year it was confirmed that refusing to rent to people on DSS was a form of indirect discrimination as they disproportionately harm women and disabled people, who are more likely to receive housing benefit. Click here for details.

This year has seen unprecedented legislation being passed in response to the pandemic. There was a moratorium on evictions from March to September 2020.  There is a requirement for a reactivation notice to be lodged for current possession cases to proceed. There has been a further ban on enforcement of possession orders until January 2021. The notice period for possession notices were changed. The majority of the changes were to deal with the current pandemic and avoid the spread of the virus as much as possible by slowing down the eviction process.

Whilst the pandemic has been a priority, surely the long term goal of revising landlord and tenant law should to address the specific concerns which had been identified by the Government already should have been pushed forward. There have been decades of a lack of social housing being built and the only real option for many renters has been to seek a tenancy in the private sector. The government in fact relies on the private sector to plug the gap for renters. For example local authorities can offer a homeless applicant a private rented property in meeting their homelessness duty. The Renters Reform Bill has fundamental consequences for landlords and tenants but could go further. 2020 has seen an emphasis on tenant protection but there has been no solution looking beyond the pandemic. The lack of progression with the Renters Reform Bill leaves tenants receiving a s.21 notice and potentially facing eviction despite a government promise to stop this from happening more than a year ago.  It is hoped that in the forthcoming year, in light of progress made with the covid19 vaccine, a much needed long term overhaul of the landlord tenant law is undertaken.

Share this article

Contact

Contact us today

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you






    More from WilliamVIEW ALL

    1. 18.2.2022

      High Court decides on uplift to legacy benefits

      Statement on High Court decision on the Government’s failure to apply a £20 uplift to legacy benefits What was the...

      Read more
    2. 5.11.2021

      Council overturns unlawful housing policy

      Homeless teenager claims victory for more than 1,200 homeless people after forcing council to overturn unlawful housing policy A homeless teenager...

      Read more
    3. shoreditch london
      3.9.2021

      Homeless Teenager takes London Council to High Court

      A homeless teenager is taking a London council to the High Court for ‘unlawfully’ banning hundreds of homeless people from...

      Read more
    4. 19.8.2021

      Housing Disrepair Scandal in South London

      Following an investigation by ITV nearly 500 homes in the Eastfields Estate in Mitcham, south London, owned by the housing association...

      Read more
    5. 29.4.2021

      High Court challenge the denial of benefit increases...

      The High Court is to decide whether it was lawful of the Government not to give nearly 2million people on...

      Read more
    6. 8.4.2021

      Council to amend unlawful housing allocation banding process

      For the last 8 years Brent Council has stopped the majority of homeless applicants from bidding for rehousing, treating them as ‘...

      Read more
    7. 29.1.2021

      What does the national lockdown mean for possession...

      The coronavirus pandemic has caused disruption to all elements of life, and possession proceedings are no exception. The number of...

      Read more
    8. 23.12.2020

      EU Nationals with Pre-Settled Status entitled to benefits...

      Court Judgment means EU Nationals with Pre-Settled Status can access benefits and housing On 18 December 2020 the Court of Appeal handed...

      Read more
    9. london apartments
      22.12.2020

      Housing disrepair issues resolved after three years

      Osbornes were instructed on behalf of a disabled tenant who had been decanted from her temporary accommodation for some three...

      Read more
    10. 22.12.2020

      Eviction from home of vulnerable man during lockdown...

      Osbornes were instructed just before the lockdown to prevent the eviction of a vulnerable man with capacity issues. He had...

      Read more
    11. 22.12.2020

      Young mother secures accommodation after illegal evictions during...

      Here at Osbornes we have seen illegal evictions on the increase during this global pandemic. Osbornes have been advising many...

      Read more
    12. 22.12.2020

      Osbornes applying to Supreme Court in housing possession...

      In the case of Gateway Housing Association –v- Begum (2) the Court of Appeal recently decided that a tenant must leave...

      Read more
    13. 20.11.2020

      Up Up and away to the First Tier...

      This year we assisted in written representations for a welfare benefit case in the Upper Tribunal. This is a Housing...

      Read more
    14. 20.11.2020

      You are homeless because you are in shared...

      It is well established that shared facilities are not suitable for families with children as long term accommodation. The client...

      Read more
    15. 9.11.2020

      Case Summary: Private Tenant affected by leaks settles...

      Our client had a private sector tenancy for a flat located in a block owned by a local authority. Our...

      Read more
    16. 27.5.2020

      I am vulnerable and homeless but the Council...

      Homelessness law and procedure can be very complicated. We hope this blog gives you some helpful pointers but it is...

      Read more
    17. 4.5.2020

      No recourse to public funds in the time...

      Anyone working in the field of social welfare law will be familiar with the term “no recourse to public funds”....

      Read more
    18. 29.4.2020

      Case news: Housing benefit decision addresses issue of...

      The background You might be forgiven for thinking that the question of whether a course is full time or part...

      Read more
    19. 17.4.2020

      Harassment and Unlawful Evictions of Tenants during COVID-19...

      At these hugely challenging times, I thought it would be helpful to provide some insight for tenants facing harassment and...

      Read more
    20. 31.3.2020

      The Coronavirus Act 2020 and Social Care

      The Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the Act”) came into law on 25 March 2020 and passed sweeping emergency legislation that is unprecedented in peacetime....

      Read more
    21. london house
      30.3.2020

      I have a disrepair issue can I withhold...

      Withholding rent is not your best course of action. I see the logic in using the non-payment of rent as...

      Read more
    22. 27.3.2020

      COVID-19 – the impact on landlords of residential properties...

      From the 26th March 2020, landlords will have to give their tenants 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession compared...

      Read more
    23. 26.3.2020

      British child living with her mother in the...

      In AH v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2020] UKUT 53 (AAC), the claimant and her parents are British citizens. ...

      Read more
    24. 6.11.2019

      Universal Credit Claims and Personal Injury Compensation

      The general rule on entitlement to Universal Credit is that a person is not entitled if they have capital of...

      Read more

    VIEW ALL