On 16 June 2022, the government published its white paper on the reform of the private rented sector in England.

It proposes significant reforms and changes to the private rental sector aiming to redress the balance between landlords and tenants and to deliver homes that are fit for habitation.

Key proposals include:

1. Abolishing section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions – a tenancy will only end if the tenant ends it or if the landlord has a valid ground for possession in specific circumstances defined in law such as if the landlord wants to move into the property or sell or demolish the property (in each case not within the first 6 months of a tenancy) or if the property has been repossessed by a mortgage lender;

2. Strengthening grounds for possession if a tenant is in breach of a tenancy agreement including a new mandatory ground for repeated serious arrears enabling landlords to gain possession of their properties when necessary;

3. Simplifying tenancy structures and creating a single system of periodic tenancies;

4. Abolishing blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits;

5. Abolishing arbitrary rent review clauses, giving tenants stronger powers to challenge poor practice and unjustified rent increases;

6. A “Decent Homes Standard” will be introduced into the private rented sector and will be legally binding;

7. A new digital property portal to help landlords understand their legal requirements and a new ombudsman covering all private landlords;

8. Monitoring and reviewing solutions to passport deposits to assist tenants moving between properties; and

9. A right for tenants to request permission to keep a pet which cannot be unreasonably refused.

On the same day as the white paper came out, the government published the outcome of its consultation considering the case for a new dedicated Housing Court. The government concluded that:

  • the costs of introducing a new court would outweigh the benefits;

  • it will instead focus on the reforms set out in the white paper; and

  • they will also review bailiff capacity, recruitment and retention to free up more time for bailiffs to focus on the enforcement of possession orders.

The reforms in the white paper are part of a wider reform agenda to improve lives in the UK. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 seeks to introduce similar reform in Wales but its introduction has been delayed until December.

A review of the detail to be set out in the Renters’ Reform Bill when it is published will be key to understanding the possible impact of this on residential landlords and lenders. In particular it is not clear how the new landlord’s ground for possession relating to when a property has been repossessed by a mortgage lender will operate in practice: we hope that this will become clearer in the legislation.

The rebalancing of power and some of the proposed changes such as the restrictions on a landlord’s ability to terminate a tenancy may deter investment in the private rental sector which could lead to less rental homes and a rise in rents. For now, it is clear from the white paper that the changes are likely to have wide reaching impacts on the private rental sector and we will be following the progress of this closely.

Contributor: Rhiannon Johnston

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at 24 June 2022. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions

Date published

24 June 2022


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