In December of 2019, the government announced that it planned to introduce a Renters’ Reform Bill. Among the measures outlined under this bill was the abolition of so-called ‘no fault’ evictions, by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1998.
The government also announced that in doing so, it would reform the grounds for possession. It also revealed that it intends to reform the current legislation to give landlords more rights to gain possession of their property through the courts, where there is a legitimate need to do so.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has now published its proposals for the Renters’ Reform Bill, with one of its recommendations for the government to create a national conciliation for private landlords and tenants.
This service would be similar in nature to the employment dispute body ACAS, the organisation explained.
By having such a conciliation service available, the aim would be to help tenants and landlords to resolve disagreements relating to possession notices without the expense and stress of going before the courts.
It means that a landlord and tenant could find a way to end a tenancy that benefits both parties, and at the same time remove some of the strain from the country’s court system by keeping such disputes outside of the courts.
Of course, the NRLA noted that cases where criminal activity by a tenant was identified would go straight before the courts.
Chief executive of the NRLA Ben Beadle stressed that the new Renters’ Reform Bill needs to be supported by both tenants and landlords. He commented: “Our proposals are for a fundamental reform of repossession rights, which strike the balance between the needs of both.”
2020 has been a challenging year for many people, landlords included, with the eviction ban on tenants unable to pay their rent as a result of the pandemic meaning that there is now a backlog of cases to be heard by the courts.
There was some good news for landlords recently, with Landlord News reporting last month that the government had introduced regulations to enable landlords to deal with tenants who accrued substantial rent arrears before the pandemic arrived in March.
Under the new regulations, substantial rent arrears are defined as nine months or more of non-payment that were accrued before 23 March 2020.
Founder of Landlord Action Paul Shamplina told the news provider that the announcement by the government was “very welcome news for those landlords whose tenants had stopped paying rent months prior to the pandemic and, until now, had been given carte blanche to continue living rent free”.
Despite the challenges facing some within the private rental sector in the UK, there have been encouraging signs. Property Reporter recently revealed that agents reported the highest number of prospective tenants searching for homes on record in August.
This indicates that there is still substantial demand within the sector, with Mark Hayward, chief policy advisor at Propertymark, telling the publication that “both the sales and rental markets have remained remarkably resilient throughout this trying year”.
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