The White Paper on the Renters' Reform Bill, slated by the government for release in autumn this year, has now been delayed until 2022, according to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The Bill reappeared on the government's agenda when it confirmed its intentions to "enhance the rights of those who rent" in the Queen's Speech. In the briefing notes to the speech, the government announced that the White Paper would outline its "reform package" for the private rented sector, which is set to include abolishing Section 21 and the introduction of lifetime deposits - with legislation to follow in due course. In a letter to contributors to the White Paper, the government said the extension would "not only allow us to benefit from continued work with the sector but will also allow us to carefully consider the findings of the National Audit Office’s review of regulation of the sector which is due to report in the coming months".
The briefing notes set out what letting agents and landlords can expect from the reform package and include:
- Abolishing Section 21 - so-called ‘no fault’ evictions - and improving security for tenants in the private rented sector, as well as strengthening repossession grounds for landlords under Section 8 when they have valid cause.
- Outlining proposals for a new ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposit model that eases the burden on tenants when moving from one tenancy to the next, helping improve the experience of those living in the private rental sector.
- Bringing forward reforms to drive improvements in standards in rented accommodation, including by ensuring all tenants have a right to redress, and ensuring well targeted, effective enforcement that drives out criminal landlords, for example exploring the merits of a landlord register and requiring all private landlords to belong to a redress scheme.
- Considering further reforms of the private renter sector enforcement system so it is well targeted, effective and supports improvements in property conditions, including a set of measures to hold "bad landlords" to account for delivering safe and decent housing to tenants without penalising good landlords.
- Exploring improvements and possible efficiencies to the possession process in the courts, to make it quicker and easier for both landlords and tenants to use.
- The proposed legislation would only apply in England, as housing policy is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.