A new report from the Government has now been released, addressing the responses to recommendations from MPs to improve the private rented sector (PRS) and its legislation.
It has been suggested that the Government should consider new ways of informing tenants and landlords of any changes to their rights and responsibilities. The Government has accepted this suggestion, and points out that the latest versions of the How to Rent and How to Rent a Safe Homeguides are now available, along with a new guide entitled How to Let.
The Government has also said that it recognises that more could be done to ensure that landlords and tenants are aware of their rights and responsibilities. The report states: “The Government is also committed to providing practical guidance to relevant agencies and local authorities when new legislation is created.”
It is mentioned that possible reforms to the leasehold sector around enfranchisement, commonhold and the right to manage will be looked at, in partnership with the Law Commission, as part of its 13th Programme of Law Reform.
The recommendation to extend the protection offered to tenants from a no-fault Section 21 eviction to longer than the current six-months period has been rejected by the Government. The response states: “We believe the current legislation strikes the right balance between the interests of landlords and tenants and we have no plans to change the legislation in this way.”
“The Committee also recommended that tenants are protected from eviction as soon as they make a complaint, rather than at the point when an improvement notice is issued. We do not accept this recommendation. We acknowledge the concerns raised by the Committee but this recommendation presents practical difficulties of implementation.
“We believe that such a provision is susceptible to abuse since it would simply be the tenant’s word against the landlord as to whether a complaint has been made, and whether their complaint was legitimate. This would be time-consuming to resolve owing to the likely difficulties in providing evidence.”
MPs have called for more detailed proposals in relation to the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill and the Tenant Fees Bill. The response was that a call for evidence will be published later this year, in order to gather views from the judiciary, landlords and tenants. The plan is for detailed proposals to follow, once the feedback from the call for evidence has been analysed.
The statement was made by MPs that they believe local authorities should have the power to levy more substantial fines, with the intention of doing more to deter rogue landlords. This has also been rejected by the Government, as it is believed that the introduction of civil penalties up to £30,000 and rent repayment orders of up to 12 months introduced in April 2017, along with the rogue landlord and agents database introduced in 2018, should be given more time to take effect.
Further has been said about the Government’s announcement to fund £20m in order to develop the PRS. The report says: “…we are providing £20 million of additional funding for schemes that will enable better access to new tenancies or support in sustaining existing tenancies.
“We are working through options of how best to utilise this funding and will share more information on our plans in due course.”
The Government response to the Housing Communities and Local Government Select Committee Report: Private rented sector is available to view here.