Tenants have already waited two years for reform, warns Baroness

12 May 2021 | Renting

Tenants have already waited two years for reform, warns Baroness

The most vocal campaign group for tenants, Generation Rent, has warned government that renters have already been waiting two years for reform.

Baroness Alicia Kennedy, director of the campaign, has demanded that the government use the coming months – before introducing promised new legislation – to “make sure the private rental market is suitable for all the people who now depend on it.”

Baroness Kennedy’s comments have come in response to the government’s commitment, made in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech, that there will be progress on the Renters’ Reform Bill, first mooted in 2019.

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It now appears there will be a White Paper in the autumn, paving the way for legislation after a consultation period. 

The government has indicated its proposals will address Generation Rent’s demand for the scrapping of existing Section 21 eviction powers, improving landlords’ right to possession under Section 8, and introducing so-called lifetime deposits which make it easier and cheaper for tenants to move between rental properties.

Baroness Kennedy says: “While the government’s intentions are positive, renters have already been waiting for tenancy reforms for two years. The government rightly wants to learn the lessons of the pandemic but must use the months ahead to make sure that the private rental market is suitable for all the people who now depend on it.”

She says the pandemic has shown everyone the importance of a secure and decent home but claims “11m private renters just don’t have this, when they can lose their home at their landlord’s whim.”

She continues: “The government’s recommitment to abolishing Section 21 evictions is welcome, and we will work closely with the government to make sure these reforms ensure renters can enjoy long term homes and a better relationship with their landlord.

“Generation Rent has campaigned for a landlord register for years so it is welcome that the government will now consider it. Renters in Scotland and Wales can check online that their landlord is legitimate – introducing this to England would help drive criminal landlords out of the market and give renters a way to complain about mistreatment.

“The government has recommitted to reforming the deposits system, which is one of the biggest barriers to people moving home in the private rented sector. It is difficult to save five weeks’ rent to put down a deposit when your existing one is tied up in the current property. 

“The government must also make sure the process of getting your deposit back is fair, to give renters trust in the system.”

Meanwhile Shelter, the campaigning charity, took to Twitter to say: “The Queens Soeech means we’re one step closer to ensuring every private renter can have a decent place to call home, thanks to a promise for a Renter’s Reform Bill. We’re ready to work with the government to scrap Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and introduce a landlord register.

“The pandemic has been unbelievably hard on renters who’ve had to battle poor conditions, illegal evictions and indifferent landlords, without the protections they deserve. The government is doing the right thing by making renting fairer and safer for all.”

This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.