Proposals outlining the biggest changes to the private rented sector in more than 30 years have now been made public by the government. Here NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle outlines what these changes mean for landlords and what happens next.

The loss of Section 21, abolition of the AST and introduction of new mandatory grounds for possession are all part of the government’s new plans to revolutionise private renting.

The long-awaited plans were included in the government’s 82-page rental reform white paper, entitled A Fairer Private Rented Sector published last month (JUNE).

In short, the document outlines Government commitments to:

  • Convert Assured and Assured Shorthold tenancies into periodic tenancies, that can be ended by the tenant with two months’ notice and by landlords with a legitimate reason
  • Abolish Section 21 and introduce new possession grounds for landlords
  • Extend the Decent Homes Standard to the sector
  • Create a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman to settle disputes informally
  • Introduce a new Property Portal to support landlords – and to provide information on rogues
  • Abolish rent review clauses (while retaining the ability to increase rents annually)
  • Outlaw blanket bans on renting to families with children or tenants on benefits
  • Incentivise landlords to accept tenants with pets
  • Reform and speed up the court process.

What does this mean for landlords?

The loss of Section 21 has been a long-standing government commitment and in its campaigning on the issue, the NRLA stressed the need for a workable alternative to be in place before the provision was axed.

We are pleased to see a commitment to introducing new mandatory grounds for landlords (or their families) who want to move back into a property, sell it or carry out major renovations. Indeed retaining the concept of a mandatory ground is in itself a huge victory, since many groups were calling for discretionary grounds only.

Mandatory grounds have also been introduced for serious cases of anti-social behaviour and rent arrears, with the government also agreeing to NRLA calls to reform the court system, meaning landlords and tenants can access justice in a timely manner.

While we welcome moves to ensure landlords are able to regain possession of their properties in legitimate circumstances we do have some concerns over the level of detail provided in the document.

Similarly some grounds, we believe, do not go far enough to protect landlords. The mandatory ground for anti-social behaviour for example, requires a conviction, something that is notoriously difficult to achieve given the level of evidence needed and time taken for cases to come to court.

We will continue to press government for change on this issue.

Elsewhere we have seen notable successes, with the NRLA successfully campaigning for a change to the tenant fees act which will see landlords allowed to ask for pet insurance as a condition of tenants keeping animals, something currently prohibited.

Landlords will be obliged to consider a tenant’s request to have a pet, under the proposals, but can decline with good reason.

What happens next?

The rental reform document is a white paper, rather than a bill, so the proposals outlined within its pages are not set in stone.

We have been invited to a Ministerial round table to discuss our thoughts on the paper and share our recommendations, before the final Renters’ Reform Bill is tabled, which we expect to see later this year. Even then there will be numerous hurdles for the bill to pass through as it is considered by MPs and Peers.

Ahead of this the NRLA will be asking ministers to:

  • End the anti-landlord rhetoric and back the majority of landlords providing good quality homes to rent
  • Address issues that will arise in the student market as a result of plans to introduce indefinite tenancies
  • Come up with firm principles as to how councils and police can support landlords to tackle anti-social tenants quickly and effectively
  • Reform the courts BEFORE Section 21 powers are removed to tackle lengthy waits for possession
  • Abolish local licensing once the new property portal is introduced

The association will be running a series on information events for members over the coming weeks, and asking landlords to get involved by writing to their MPs to highlight any concerns. Landlords can visit our news centre and social media channels for more information on how to get involved.

The proposals outlined in the white paper will bring the biggest changes the sector has seen in more than 30 years, and it is essential that Government gets it right if it is to encourage landlords to remain in the sector and continue to invest in the homes to let that this country so desperately needs at a time of record demand.

There has never been a more important time to be part of the NRLA. If you’re not a member, we urge you to consider joining so we can get your voice heard.

More information

About the Author

Ben Beadle - NRLA Chief Executive

Ben Beadle is chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), the UK’s largest trade body for landlords.

A landlord himself since the age of 20, Ben started out as property manager before working his way up through the ranks at Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

He was then Operations Director at property management business Touchstone before overseeing the merger of the National Residential Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to create the new trade body earlier this year.

His key aims as head of the organisation are to strengthen the voice of landlords in Westminster and Cardiff, to improve the reputation of landlords in the media and to support members through information, training and accreditation.

NRLA: The NRLA updates landlords on all the latest legislation changes affecting the sector and offers expert advice, training and other exclusive services and benefits.

£15 off Joining the home for landlords banner

Other news stories