Propertymark campaign results evident in Renters (Reform) Bill amendments

We have had direct correspondence from senior officials at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) regarding amends to be tabled on the Renters (Reform) Bill, including communication between Housing Minister Jacob Young, MP, and Conservative MPs outlining further improvements that address some of the key concerns of letting agents and strike a fairer balance of security for both landlords and tenants.

Male agent holding Propertymark P

It has been confirmed that the Bill will return to the Commons in the coming weeks.

Our CEO and Head of Policy and Campaigns met Jacob Young recently, and Propertymark is pleased to see that DLUHC has listened to our members’ concerns and our campaigning and welcomes the changes around fixed-term tenancies and assessment of the county court possession system before abolishing Section 21.

However, we are disappointed to still see no reference in the Bill to the regulation of property agents. Momentum is growing to implement RoPA, notably in a recent report from the Industry and Regulators Committee, and during the Second Reading debate of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill in the House of Lords, when Propertymark’s campaign work was referenced by Lord Best.

Westminster Houses of Parliament lampost
16 Jun 2022
White Paper claims a fairer deal for the PRS

Protecting the student market

We have long been vocal on the issue of fixed-term tenancies. Our Future of Renting position paper, published in December 2021, highlighted to the UK Government that a blanket move to periodic tenancies would mean that students find it difficult to rent a property.

After months of consideration, the UK Government will now amend the Bill to ensure that the mandatory possession ground to facilitate student lets applies to any property let by students, as long as landlords write their intention to use the student possession ground into the tenancy agreement.

The Future of Renting front cover
13 Dec 2021
The Future of Renting

Minimum six-month tenancies

The original intention of the Bill was to allow tenants to end a tenancy with two months' notice at any point. This will now be changed to prevent them from giving notice within the first six months, essentially creating a default fixed term.

A fixed-term benefits both parties, with security of tenure for the tenant and a guarantee of rent payments for the landlord so they can be confident they can cover costs. For tenants with low income or poor credit history, the fixed term allows a guarantor to be certain about the length of time they are signing up to support them.

A legal requirement to assess the court system

Although the UK Government had already stated they would not abolish Section 21 evictions until the court system was ready to cope with the inevitably larger number of cases, Propertymark had continued to push for a clearer roadmap for how and when that would be achieved.

Therefore, we are pleased that the Bill will now include a requirement for the Lord Chancellor to publish an assessment of the Courts’ readiness before the ban on Section 21 is enacted.

Ensuring Portal doesn’t duplicate licensing

The UK Government has now committed to review property licensing to reduce burdens on landlords. This review will cover both selective licensing and licensing of HMOs.

Checkpoints as the legislation beds in

Also included is an amendment that will require the Secretary of State to make sure an independent review of the new system is carried out and report to parliament on the effectiveness of new possession grounds and the effect of moving to periodic tenancies and abolishing fixed terms, within 18 months of the measures being applied to existing tenancies.

Propertymark has worked hard on behalf of agents to highlight the unintended consequences of removing fixed-term tenancies and the new commitment to review the implementation does provide some reassurance for agents and their landlords.

It is also pleasing to see the UK Government commit to further assessments and measures to ensure the current inadequacies that exist in the court system are tackled before removing no-fault evictions.

There is still a long way to go before the Renters (Reform) Bill becomes law so we will continue to champion the role of property agents and iron out further unintended consequences to ensure the legislation works in practice for all.

Timothy Douglas Serious
Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark