Rental and social housing reforms will put stop to damp and unsafe homes – Gove

The Renters Reform Bill and Social Housing Regulation Bill were both announced in the Queen’s Speech.

10 May 2022

New legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech will put a stop to renters living in “damp, unsafe and cold homes”, according to the Housing Secretary.

Tuesday’s timetable for new laws included the Renters Reform Bill, which Michael Gove said represented a “new deal” for people renting in England.

The Bill will extend the Decent Homes Standard to the 4.4 million households privately renting in a bid to tackle the conditions facing 21% the sector who currently live in homes of an unacceptable quality, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said.

Officials said the Bill would also provide security for tenants in the private rented sector by ending Section 21 notices, which allow landlords to evict a tenant without having to give a reason.

Almost a quarter of those who moved in the past year did not end their tenancy by choice, figures shared by DLUHC suggested.

Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe and cold homes, powerless to put it right, and under the threat of sudden eviction.

“The new deal for renters announced today will help to end this injustice, improving conditions and rights for millions of renters.

“This is all part of our plan to level up communities and improve the life chances of people from all corners of the country.”

Mr Gove’s department has promised that the Renters Reform Bill will introduce an ombudsman so disputes between private landlords and tenants can be resolved without going to court.

Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove
Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove (Peter Byrne/PA)

While Section 21 will be abolished, ministers plan to introduce stronger possession grounds for landlords when there are repeated incidences of rent arrears, and reduce notice periods when there is antisocial behaviour.

A property portal will be established to help landlords understand their responsibilities and give tenants “performance indication” to hold their landlord to account, DLUHC said.

The measures have been widely welcomed by housing charities for helping to address the concerns of renters, particularly around no-fault evictions.

Using a separate Social Housing Regulation Bill announced on Tuesday, Cabinet minister Mr Gove plans to increase social housing tenants’ rights, and improve how they can hold landlords to account, in response to concerns raised by the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.

Under the changes, the regulator will be able to inspect landlords and intervene when they poorly handle issues such as complaints, while new tenant satisfaction measures will be introduced so tenants can see how their landlord is performing compared to others.

Housing association tenants will be able to request information from their landlord in a similar way to how local authority landlords are subject to Freedom of Information requests.

And there will be no limit to how much the regulator can fine a landlord who falls short of the required standards.

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