In June 2022 the Government published their Renters’ Reform Bill White Paper, a proposal which sets out intended steps to change the Private Rented Sector in England. In this article we have laid out the answers to some of the questions which we believe will help landlords understand any changes there may be and what this might mean for their properties. It is important to note that nothing within this white paper has been approved yet and as such it is subject to potential future changes.
Will I need to make upgrades to my property to meet the new Decent Homes Standard?
We all agree that everyone deserves a well maintained property and at Haslams our Property Management team work daily to maintain a high standard of property on behalf of landlords and tenants. A well-maintained property benefits both parties; positive value for landlords and excellent standards of living for the tenant. The majority of our properties already meet or surpass any standards already in place. Landlords who manage their own properties are likely to be at most risk as they are often not a member of a professional body and not up to speed on the requirements.
Will I still be able to take possession of my property, if needed, during a tenancy?
A tenancy will only end if the tenant ends it or if the landlord has valid grounds for possession. 90% of all tenancies are currently ended when the tenant serves notice and not the landlord. There will still be applicable reasons for landlords to serve notice, including in the event of rent arrears, anti-social behaviour and if the landlord sells the property. We are awaiting further details regarding how this will be enforced.
Does the new Reform Bill mean that I cannot increase the rent anymore?
No. The proposed reform will mean that increases can only occur once per year. This will end the practice of using rent review clauses and will support tenants with preventing excessive and repetitive rent increases. Rents are typically reviewed annually at Haslams, so there will be little change.
Will tenants start raising more complaints about my property? Will I have to join an Ombudsman?
On behalf of our existing landlords our property management team help to provide safe and well maintained properties. Providing the landlord follows both our and Government guidance, the possible introduction of a single Ombudsman may mean that any disputes are resolved more quickly and cheaply than the existing system. We would not expect any notable increase in complaints.
I’ve heard about a new database for tenants and councils where information on criminal landlords is kept, what does this mean?
The Government would like to introduce an online portal where tenants, councils and landlords can access information on compliance and responsibilities. Tenants will also be able to see if their landlord has any property related offences. We think it is important to hold any landlords breaking the law accountable to drive rogue operators out of the market. We work tirelessly to ensure our landlords are compliant with the latest regulations and therefore protected.
Will councils have more power over landlords?
There is a proposal for local councils to have their enforcement powers strengthened, however for compliant landlords we do not foresee this to have any effect. The council will have more responsibility to track and report on non-compliant or criminal landlords.
Can I still choose who rents my property?
Yes! You still have the right to accept a particular tenant at your property. However, the Government is proposing that blanket bans on families or recipients of benefits will be prevented. The good news is that greater support will be given to landlords who choose to welcome tenants who are benefits recipients. It is important to note that very little information has been provided by the Government on this area so far, and we look forward to sharing more details to our landlords when it is provided. Our priority will be to ensure that any possible risk for our landlords is mitigated.
Do I have to let to tenants with pets?
No, the proposal is to allow tenants to have the right to request a pet in their property, which cannot be unreasonably refused. In turn, landlords will be able to ask that tenants buy pet insurance. As it stands, we have a low number of tenants who request a property that allows pets.
Investing in Buy to Let remains a good option, with capital appreciation and rents increasing in the long term. Providing landlords keep a safe and well maintained property for their tenants, the benefits of letting a property will outweigh any possible challenges from changes in legislation.
To discuss any of the above matters further, please contact our lettings team on 0118 960 1055.