The UK Apartment Association and the Chairman of accountancy practice, Cornerstone Group, respond to the introduction of The Renters’ (Reform) Bill in Parliament today and the UK government’s promise to deliver on a 2019 Conservative Party manifesto pledge to abolish ‘no fault’ evictions under Section 21 of the Housing Act of 1988.
Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 grants private landlords in the United Kingdom the right to reposess their properties from assured shorthold tenants without any requirement to establish fault on the part of the tenant. Sometimes referred to as the ‘no-fault’ ground for eviction, Section 21 has made shorthold tenancies – a particular form of tenancy contract – popular with landlords.
The provision has courted widespread controversy for being open to abuse, with housing charity Shelter citing its use by landlords to secure ‘revenge evictions’ against tenants who have complained about disrepair of their property.
The UK Apartment Association (UKAA), which representative body for the build-to-rent (BTR) industry, says: “UKAA supports considered, evidence-based regulation that sets standards and expectations for the rental sector as well as offering protection to both landlords and customers. We remain willing to engage positively with policymakers to improve the performance of the rental sector and welcome the clarity set out in the Renters’ (Reform) Bill.
“However, BTR landlords already meet and exceed the majority of requirements of the proposed Renters’ (Reform) Bill which is being introduced to Parliament today.
“Our industry’s objective is to create, maintain and professionally manage high quality homes, in the long term, for the benefit of customers, local communities and investors. We are and will continue to set the highest standards for the BTR industry (specifically as well as supporting and encouraging the Private Rental Sector to do the same).
“The UKAA is itself leading the development of a Code of Practice for BTR operators, setting out standards of practice in terms of quality of accommodation, customer service, response to resident issues, communication, and resident well-being as well as clear and fair terms of tenancy.
The UKAA calls on government to further recognise the uniqueness of the BTR proposition and do more to support the delivery of BTR homes across the UK.
“It is also worth noting that the BTR sector is adding significant numbers of much-needed, high quality additional homes across the UK with over 82,500 new homes completed, and a further 168,400 in the planning and delivery pipeline (Savills, May 2023). The UKAA calls on government to further recognise the uniqueness of the BTR proposition and do more to support the delivery of BTR homes across the UK.
“Furthermore, it is gratifying to note, as revealed in the latest Who Lives In Build to Rent report (May 2023), that BTR customers mirror the demographic and income profiles of the wider PRS demonstrating that BTR is universal solution that can make a significant contribution in helping to solve the UK’s housing crisis.”
David Hannah, Chairman, Cornerstone Group International, says: “A new law tabled in Parliament is looking to ban landlords from evicting tenants with no justification as part of a long-discussed overhaul of the private rental sector in England. Tenants would also be given the legal right to request a pet in their home and it would be made illegal for a landlord to refuse tenancies to families with children, or those in receipt of benefits. David Hannah, Chairman of Cornerstone Group International states that this would be a welcome addition for renters who are currently facing significant obstacles.
“The bill has been described as a ‘huge opportunity’ by housing campaigners to improve the lives of the 11 million renters in England who currently face record rents. Data from Hamptons shows that the average rent on a newly let home outside the capital increased by 7.8% annually to £1,002 in April, whilst the average rent in the capital now stands at a record £2,200 with the average monthly rent rising 11.1% year-on-year across Great Britain in April.
“The most significant change in the bill is the abolishment of Section 21 – a key piece of legislation which allows landlords to evict tenants without providing justification. Research from Shelter shows that nearly 230,000 private renters had been served with a no-fault eviction notice since April 2019.
“The Conservative Party initially promised to ban the evictions in their 2019 election manifesto, however Housing Secretary Michael Gove has only just announced the plans. Mr Gove described the current rental market as “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them.” He stated that the government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering this new bill, which is one with quality, affordability and fairness at heart.
“The introduction of the Renters’ Reform Bill has been a long time coming and I think an important measure to add to the rental market. Renters are facing record rents all across the UK with affordability still being the main obstacle for people looking to buy a property – forcing more individuals to rent for longer. This has caused an increased demand in the rental sector, with some landlords hiking rents by up to 20% in some properties, which is effectively a no-fault eviction for renters that find themselves faced with this proposition.
By abolishing no-fault evictions, renters will have a better peace of mind and know that their landlord won’t be able to evict them immediately with no reason.
“By abolishing no-fault evictions, renters will have a better peace of mind and know that their landlord won’t be able to evict them immediately with no reason. This should hopefully take away a lot of the stress in renting and improve the connection and communication between renters and landlords which I think is lacking in the current rental market.
“I think the rental market is filled with uncertainties at the moment, with rising rents making it less attractive from a renter’s standpoint and rising house prices making it less desirable for buy-to-let landlords to grow their portfolios. I welcome the proposed changes of the renting rules, and agree tenants need protection.”