The instant This Writer saw that the Conservative government is planning to allow tenants to reclaim their rent from “dodgy” landlords, I questioned it.
There has to be a catch, right? This is the Tory Party – the party that puts landlords over tenants and would return us to Rackmanism and rack-renting at the flip of a coin.
Maybe Michael Gove is trying to make himself look good ahead of the now-inevitable Conservative leadership contest…
Whatever the reasons, I remain staggered to be able to relay to you a decent policy from the Conservative government:
Tenants will be given new powers to claim refunds on their rent from landlords if their homes fall below standard in the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector since the 1990s.
The Government published it’s long-awaited ‘Fairer Private Rented Sector’ White Paper with reforms which are set to be brought into law under the Renters Reform Bill.
If they become law, experts say the White Paper’s proposals will directly improve the lives of millions of people and become the most radical thing to happen to the private rented sector since Thatcher’s deregulation and the introduction of Buy to Let mortgages in the early 1990s.
Abolishing “no fault” Section 21 evictions: S.21 allows a landlord to evict their tenant with just two months’ notice without having to give them a reason. In recent years this sort of eviction has become a leading cause of homelessness and there have been reports of renters being evicted when they ask for basic repairs.
Overhauling tenancy agreements: The Government is proposing a shift from assured shorthold tenancy agreements (ASTs) that generally run for six or 12 months to open-ended tenancies.
No more rent hike clauses: The Government wants to end arbitrary rent review clauses which allow landlords to hike up rents without justifying them.
Improving basic standards of rented homes: According to the government, 21 per cent of private renters are living in “unfit” homes which means they are damp, mouldy and contain electrical hazards. The White paper proposes to make the Decent Homes standard law in the private rented sector, which means homes must be free from serious health and safety hazards, and landlords must keep homes in a good state of repair, so renters have clean, appropriate and useable facilities. But how will cash-strapped local authorities enforce this?
New housing ombudsman to make landlords accountable: the aim is to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court, with powers to compel landlords to issue an apology, take remedial action, and/or pay compensation of up to £25,000 in the form of refunds on rent.
Ban on landlords refusing to rent to benefit claimants: Landlords are not supposed to discriminate against people receiving benefits (known as No DSS) or families but they do. The white paper promises to make it illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to these people.
The right to keep pets: Private renters the right to have a pet and say that landlords cannot “unreasonably deny” them this.
The big irony of all these reforms is that landlords (or alleged landlords) like Philip Davies and Christopher Chope have filibustered (talked out) attempts at rent reform in Private Members’ Bills – but will probably support this.
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