Mid-June saw the government launch the “fairer private rented sector white paper”. In its own words “This white paper sets out our plans to fundamentally reform the private rented sector, and level up housing quality in this country”. It remains to be seen if this becomes law before this political party exits, or if it ends up being drawn out and disregarded, like so many other of this government’s white papers.

Its publication has whipped up a storm on both the landlord and tenant sides of renting. The government announced “The white paper marks a generational shift that will redress the balance between landlords and 4.4 million private rented tenants. It provides new support for cost of living pressures with protections for the most vulnerable, and new measures to tackle arbitrary and unfair rent increases. This is part of a wider reform agenda to improve lives and level up the country, delivering more housing and greater protections for tenants and homeowners”.

Landlord associations are suggesting that there will now be a record number of evictions using the Section 21, because of the publication of this paper, which of course, means problems for tenants, as the supply of housing stock reduces, and the exact opposite of what the government are aiming at. But remember this is a white paper, and there is still time for the policy makers to adjust things, and plenty of time for landlords and tenants to adapt, change, and prepare.

Losing the S21 (no fault eviction) should not, in itself, be a reason for landlords to panic and sell up, as research shows that an average of 86% of tenancies are ended by tenants themselves and during 2019-2020 only 8% by the landlord.

The white paper states that you cannot auto decline benefit claimants, but if they do not have the monetary resources to pay the required rent, then that is a legitimate reason to refuse them. If you need to sell your property, or end the tenancy because the property is needed for yourself or a family member, that is a valid reason. Interestingly enough, the white paper has stayed clear of defining what valid means. With the thorny issue of pets, and those renters with families, an automatic decline will no longer be allowed, but a well drafted tenancy agreement will cover the matters associated with these, including that the property may not be suitable for a family or a large dog for instance.

The government press release stated “The majority of tenants enjoy safe and secure rentals, but for the 21% of private renter and households who currently live in unfit homes, this ‘New Deal’ will extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private sector for the first time, levelling up opportunities. This 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.”

It will be interesting to see how this develops over the coming months and years and if anything changes at all.

The full white paper can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1083381/A_fairer_private_rented_sector_print.pdf