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Government proposes biggest changes in renting for over 30 years

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Landlord registration may be required in England and Wales under new legislation to be introduced in the autumn.

The prospect of landlord registration was raised in this week’s Queen’s Speech setting out the legislative programme of the Government for the months ahead. This promised ‘enhanced rights’ for renters.

The proposed legislation will include ‘reforms to drive improvements in standards in rented accommodation’. These will include a right to tenant redress and ‘well targeted, effective enforcement that drives out criminal landlords’. The proposed measures will hold bad landlords to account without penalising good landlords, said the Government.

The reform package is also likely to require that all private landlords belong to a redress scheme. Meanwhile the Government said it would explore the merits of a landlord register scheme.

There will also be outline proposals for a new ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposit scheme that will follow tenants from one tenancy to the next.

Lead-up to the promised White Paper will include publication of the Government’s responses to consultation on the effects abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, improving security for tenants in the private rented sector, and strengthening repossession grounds for landlords.

‘Extensive stakeholder engagement is promised to ‘inform and shape reforms’  that work for ‘both tenants and landlords’.

Other property-related promises included in the Queen’s Speech include help for more people to own their own home and laws to end ground rent charges for new leasehold properties.

A new Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill will ‘tackle the inconsistency and ambiguity of ground rents for future leaseholders’, said the Government. It will require that ground rents in residential long leases will be no more than a ‘peppercorn rent’. This will ensure leaseholders of new, long residential leases cannot be charged a financial ground rent for no tangible service, ‘making leasehold a more transparent and fairer system for homeowners’.

National Residential Landlords Association chief executive Ben Beadle NRLA welcomed the Government’s commitment to publish a White Paper on reforms to the rental sector and to consult widely before introducing a Bill.

‘What is proposed amounts to some of the biggest changes in the private rented sector for over 30 years. We urge the Government and all others in the sector to use the time they now have to ensure that the reforms are fair and workable for both tenants and landlords.

 ‘This must include comprehensive grounds upon which landlords can legitimately repossess properties, the development of a new tenant-landlord conciliation service to help sustain tenancies wherever possible, and court reform to ensure possession cases are dealt with much quicker than the year or more currently being taken.

‘Lifetime deposits for tenants provide an opportunity to reduce the upfront cost of renting, but they need to work for all concerned.

‘We welcome also the Government’s ambitions to drive out bad landlords from the sector without penalising those who do the right thing. We want to root out all those who bring the sector into disrepute’.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said promises in the Queen’s Speech offered fresh hope to England’s private renters. ‘Today, we are one step closer to ensuring every private renter can have a decent place to call home. The Government is doing the right thing by making renting fairer and safer for all.

‘We stand ready to work with the Government to deliver a Renters’ Reform Bill that includes scrapping Section 21 “no fault” evictions and introduces a national landlord register’.