New measures aim to protect tenants’ rights in the UK

UK’s tenants are under a better protection from private landlords after the introduction of new reforms by the government.

In April this year, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government announced plans to stop private landlords from evicting tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason. Ministers are due to consult on new legislation to abolish Section 21 evictions, bringing an end to private landlords uprooting tenants from their homes with as little as 8 weeks’ notice.

In addition to this, the Ministry has introduced a range of powers for local authorities to enable them to crack down on the small minority of rogue landlords and agents who let unfit properties. This includes fixed financial penalties of up to £30,000 and banning orders – possibly for life – for the most serious offenders.

Ministers have also extended mandatory licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation to improve living conditions of tenants in shared homes and tightened up rules on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Private tenants can also apply for a refund of up to 12 months’ rent if their landlord does not deal with health and safety hazards in their home.

Moreover, the Tenant Fees Act that came into force 1 June 2019 formed part of the government’s work to make the UK’s housing market fairer for everyone. The highly-anticipated law is expected to save renters across England £240 million a year as people will no longer need to pay uncapped tenancy deposits or unfair admin agency fees.

Other government steps to reform and improve renting include:

  • a national database of rogue landlords and agents to keep track of those that have been banned from letting
  • a review to assess how well the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) – the system used by local authorities to assess health and safety in residential properties – works in practice and ensure it is fit for purpose
  • mandatory client money protection – by which rental money held by letting agents is safeguarded against theft and fraud
  • proposals for mandatory redress scheme membership for landlords
  • proposals for an independent regulator to oversee property agents, setting standards and maintaining minimum qualifications
  • new, mandatory 5-yearly electrical installation safety inspections
  • considering the case for a specialist housing court to provide greater access to justice for landlords and tenants in property disputes

These measures are all part of ongoing action by the government to protect tenants and drive up standards in the private rented sector – helping make a housing market that is fairer and works for everyone.

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About Ron Wheatley

Ron Wheatley reports on changes in legislation related to property management.

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