It is a minefield for both Landlords and Tenants, as to what their respective rights are. I thought it would be useful to set out a summary of some of the current changes a foot in the private rental sector, particularly given that twice this week I have read inaccurate information in either mainstream media, or websites on the proposed reforms.

In 2019, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) published a white paper setting out the government’s plans to fundamentally reform the private rented sector and make the private rental market a fairer place for millions of renters. The reforms are intended to target unfit homes and help protect renters against the rising cost of living. These reforms include a ban on section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and the application of the Decent Homes Standard to the private rental sector for the first time. These changes will be implemented in the Renters Reform Bill, expected to come into force in 2023.

After some uncertainty, it has been reported that the Prime Minister has confirmed that ‘no fault evictions under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988’ will be banned. Currently, a section 21 notice allows landlords to evict tenant without being required to provide any justification.

On 2nd September 2022, a period of consultation started seeking views on the introduction and enforcement of a Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector. This is long overdue. The period of consultation ended on 14th October 2022.

Currently, in the private rented sector, the Landlord has to comply with the following:
Private landlords have to provide smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in all relevant properties.
Legislation requiring properties to be fit for human habitation. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 states that landlords must not let out homes with serious hazards that mean the dwelling is not suitable for occupation in that condition.
The property must meet a minimum energy efficient standard of EPC E to make it easier for renters to keep their homes warm, while also ensuring houses are more energy efficient.
Landlords are required to carry out electrical safety checks every 5
Gas safety requirements
There are also specific requirements for houses in multiple occupation, where a property is rented out by 3 or more people who are not from one household. Larger houses in multiple occupation, i.e. those occupied by 5 or more people in 2 or more households who share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom, must be licensed by the localcouncil.

It is proposed that the Decent Homes Standard to be applied to the private rented sector is broadly consistent with the existing standard in the social housing sector. The proposed standard is that a decent home meets the
following 4 criteria:

  1. It meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing;
  2. It is in a reasonable state of repair;
  3. It has reasonable facilities and services; and
  4. It provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

The White Paper sets out that tenancy structures will be simplified. Grounds for possession will be reformed so as to be comprehensive, fair and efficient and so as to strike a balance between protecting tenants’ rights to security and landlords’ rights to manage their property. There will be a reformed mandatory ground for repeated serious arrears which, currently, is at the Court’s discretion.

I think a more regulated private rental sector will clamp down on dangerous living conditions, and provide a simpler and better understood rental system. The devil will be in the detail of course, and it will be some months before we will see what the Bill provides.