New rules affecting how the rental market operates have been pushed back once again by the Government.
The long-mooted proposed changes to the rental sector include banning section 21 notices, which allow landlords to start a process to evict tenants.
The Rental Reform White paper will now not be published until next year, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has revealed.
The paper was due to be unveiled this autumn, but the extra time will give the Government an opportunity to produce a balanced package of reforms, according to industry experts.
The controversial Rental Reform White paper will now not be published until next year
A Section 21 notice starts the legal process for a landlord to evict tenants for whatever reason they like, a practice that the Conservatives have previously pledged to scrap.
The lettings agents body Propertymark has welcomed the delay in the paper’s publication, claiming that it was ‘always too big a job to try to squeeze wholesale reforms into two years’.
It hopes the delay will now help the Government to follow through on its pledge for ‘a package of reforms that creates a fair private rented sector that work works for both tenants and landlords’, as well as reflecting changes and challenges during the pandemic.
It said that the ban on Section 21 notices remains ‘a bone of contention’, amid concern about its impact on current and future landlords in the sector and the consequential effect of raising rents.
Timothy Douglas, of Propertymark, said: ‘Due to the significance of the proposals, it is only right that the Government does not rush into making large-scale reforms to the private rented sector in England without taking the time to develop them properly.
‘The pandemic has also introduced new challenges that must be considered, shining the spotlight on notice periods and heightening the need to improve efficiencies to the possession process in the courts in addition to finding solutions to improve affordability, supply and supporting landlords and letting agents who have worked hard to sustain tenancies throughout the pandemic.
‘We also think a system of all mandatory grounds should be adopted to effectively compensate for the removal of Section 21 and technological solutions need to be found to digitise possession claims as well as acknowledging that early-stage conciliation and mediation have a role to play to play in disputes and possession proceedings.’
The long-mooted proposed changes include plans to ban section 21 notices
Lettings agents agreed, saying that a ban on section 21 notices could see more landlords selling, resulting in a shortage of rental homes and higher rents.
David Reed, of estate agents Antony Roberts, said: ‘We broadly welcome the delay in publishing the white paper as it is in the ultimate interest of both tenants and landlords not to rush to expedite legislation and simply abolish Section 21 notices without proper consultation.
‘Otherwise, it could result in more landlords selling up, leading to a shortage of rental supply and upward pressure on rents.’
He explained: ‘We have already seen a sustained contraction of rental supply, which is not helpful in terms of assisting the economic revival and comes at a time when post-pandemic lifestyle decisions are being made.
‘The lack of choice of property to rent means tenants are having to rush decisions, while rents are also rising in some areas.
He went on to say: ‘All tenants should have a good choice of property to peruse and properly consider with rents that can be secured at affordable levels.
‘To achieve such conditions, the Government and all involved in such consultations should ensure that incoming legislation does not dissuade existing landlords from holding their investments or potential new landlords from coming into the sector for the first time.’