Ahead of his appearance before MPs to give evidence on the Renters (Reform) Bill NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle shares the latest on the association’s wins – and what needs to happen next.
By now, you will all be aware the Government is pressing ahead with its Renters (Reform) Bill, with the Housing Secretary confirming last month that he will not axe Section 21 until improvements are made to the courts.
The announcement follows years of campaigning on the issue by the NRLA, which has also secured a commitment from Government that a new ground for possession will be made available to student landlords, following warnings from the association– backed up by universities and student groups – that without changes the Bill would decimate the student sector.
The announcements were made in response to a report by the Housing Select Committee earlier this year backing a wide variety of NRLA proposals.
It currently takes an average of over half a year for the courts to process possession claims where landlords have good cause, such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour or where a landlord wants to sell or move back into a property, something which the NRLA argued is unacceptable.
In response, the Government has announced that any new system for repossessing properties: “will not take place until we judge sufficient progress has been made to improve the courts.” It continued: “That means we will not proceed with the abolition of section 21, until reforms to the justice system are in place.”
The NRLA has worked tirelessly on behalf of student landlords to call for changes to the original bill, which included plans to abolish the fixed term across the board in favour of periodic tenancies.
This, the NRLA argues, is something that would make it almost impossible for student landlords to run their businesses, as landlords would have no guarantee of getting their property back at the end of the academic year to re-let to the next year’s students.
The Government has now said it will “introduce a ground for possession that will facilitate the yearly cycle of short-term student tenancies” which “will enable new students to sign up to a property in advance, safe in the knowledge they will have somewhere to live the next year.”
Speaking in the House of Commons, the Housing Secretary Michael Gove thanked the NRLA for the hard work we’ve put in to help shape the proposed legislation and ensuring the voice of landlords has been heard.
Other pledges that were made include promises to:
Now the announcements have been made and the Bill has had its second reading, time is of the essence. If the Government wants to get the legislation passed before a General Election, it needs to get its skates on.
Labour has backed the bill, but wants additional adjustments to strengthen tenants’ rights.
These include proposals to increase notice periods, limit advanced rents that landlords can charge, make changes to possession grounds, introduce redress for tenants facing ‘extortionate’ rent hikes and changes to the timescales under which landlords can re-let properties they have taken back to sell or move into.
We are now at Committee Stage, which will see a cross-party committee of MPs take a detailed look at each line of the Bill and issue a call for evidence, offering an opportunity to organisations including ourselves, to propose changes. Once evidence has been heard, the committee will debate and vote on proposed amendments.
I will be giving evidence on Tuesday November 14, at 10.10 am, alongside the Lettings Industry Council, stressing the need to ensure any proposed changes support PRS landlords and do not erode confidence at a time when need them more than ever.
It is likely that we will see significant alterations to the Bill during this next crucial stage, but it is essential any amendments support landlords as well as allowing the Government to meet its commitment to tenants.
To this end, the NRLA has written an open letter to members of tenant organisation the Renters Reform Coalition asking for its support on issues such as court reform, and for feedback on some of the finer points of the Bill to find either common campaigning ground, or, at least clarity as to what the coalition wants to change.
We believe we need to move away from the polarised narrative of policies being pro or anti-tenant, or indeed pro or anti-landlord, and instead focus on crafting a fair and workable Bill for landlords and tenants, to build a vibrant and robust private rented sector that works for all.
For more information about all things rental reform, including the latest information of the passage of the Bill through Parliament please visit the NRLA’s dedicated campaigns pages here.
For more information on how to watch the evidence session on November 14 keep an eye on our news and social media channels.
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.
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The views expressed in this content are solely those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views of TDS, its officers, or employees.