Since it was included in the Queen’s Speech in May, the Government has kept very quiet about the Renters’ Reform Bill - until last week. It has now been announced that the long-awaited draft legislation will be further delayed until next year.
According to a letter sent out to stakeholders, the aim of the delay is to allow the Government to benefit “from continued work with the sector” and also to take into account “the National Audit Office’s review of regulation”. This is due to report in the next few months.
One of the key proposals expected in the Bill when we finally get to see it, is the abolition of ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions in favour of a more robust Section 8 process. At Ringley we are not in favour of this change as we regard it as bad news for landlords – and something that we believe will have unintended and potentially damaging consequences for the sector.
However, there is a glimmer of light in the fact that last week’s Budget included a £2.2 billion funding package for the Ministry of Justice, with £324m of this money allocated to courts over the next three years. Around £200m of this money is apparently going to be spent on upgrading court technology in a bid to speed the hearing of cases. With any luck this will help to clear the backlog of possession cases that is making it so hard for the evictions process to run smoothly.
If Section 21 is to be taken off the table, it is vital that the courts are in better shape to tackle cases via the proposed alternative route. In Scotland, Section 8 was reformed in advance of a ban on no fault evictions and this appears to have made all the difference, despite the fears of landlords.
So let’s hope the Renters’ Reform Bill will make provision for similar improvements. If it doesn’t, then the additional funding for the courts may not be enough to smooth over the cracks.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
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