Published 13th May 2023 | Written by Jess Tait, Policy Analyst
The Cardon Banfield Foundation is pleased that the government has announced that the Renter’s Reform Bill will be introduced to Parliament this week.
This Bill, if passed, will see greater protections for tenants in the private rented sector (PRS), as the government promises to deliver a “fairer, more secure, and higher quality” PRS.
Amongst the legislation being proposed in the Bill includes the abolition of Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions, outlawing the ability of landlords to refuse rent to those in receipt of benefits, an introduction of a Decent Homes Standard, as well as controls on rent increases. These are all proposals that the Cardon Banfield Foundation strongly supports, and which we feel will help to prevent and reduce homelessness in the United Kingdom.
Looking to the abolition of Section 21 no fault-evictions, this will mean that property owners can no longer evict tenants without a reason as permitted under the 1988 Housing Act. In terms of homelessness, this will mean that one of the leading causes of homelessness will now be prohibited by law. Indeed, with no-fault evictions having increased by 143% year-on-year, this change in the law means that PRS tenants will no longer have to live in constant fear of finding a new home with little notice, and will also allow tenants to feel more confident in reporting issues in their home without fear of eviction.
Regarding the creation of a Decent Homes Standard, again, this is greatly welcomed by the Cardon Banfield Foundation. The government themselves have admitted that 2.8 million people are living in subpar private rented housing, with 1.6 million living in homes that are a health risk. Nobody should have to choose between health or home, nor feel they must put themselves and their families at risk of illness to avoid losing the roof over their head. With this new legislation, landlords will be obliged by law to ensure that their properties are fit for purpose, just as those within social housing must. In turn, this will make it easier for people to find better quality homes in the PRS.
Further, the Bill will also make it illegal for landlords to refuse tenancies to those receiving benefits. This current practice makes it extremely difficult for those in receipt of financial support to find a place to live, and this has continued to occur despite the chronic lack of social housing in the UK alongside the fact that 30% of PRS tenants are experiencing in-work poverty. With rents high and financial strain compounded by a cost-of-living crisis, it is deeply important that people in search of a home are not discriminated against due to their income. With this legislation, strides forward will be made in ensuring that such income discrimination no longer remains in the PRS.
This Bill has been a long time coming. The proposals were first announced in 2019 within the government’s ‘Levelling Up White Paper’, before reappearing in the ‘A Fairer Rented Sector White Paper’ in June 2022. And it ought not be forgotten that, within this time, the private renting sector has become increasingly dire. In fact, between April 2019 and June 2022, around 53,000 households were threatened with no-fault evictions and more than 20% of tenants who vacated their homes in 2019 did not do so voluntarily. The country cannot afford any more delays to this Bill, and the Cardon Banfield Foundation eagerly awaits its introduction in the coming week.
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