The Government has confirmed it WILL introduce a new ground for possession for student landlords but it will NOT retain fixed term tenancies.
The Government has also confirmed it will NOT axe section 21 repossessions until improvements have been made to the courts.
Details of these late changes before the second reading of the Renters Reform Bill later today is seen as a response to criticisms by the cross-party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee and months of campaigning by the property industry, landlords and legal experts.
The LPA and other organisations have campaigned that scrapping fixed term tenancies would create problems for both students and landlord in ensuring the availability of accommodation at the start of each academic year.
The Government states “We will therefore introduce a ground for possession that will facilitate the yearly cycle of short-term student tenancies. This will enable new students to sign up to a property in advance, safe in the knowledge they will have somewhere to live the next year.”
As regards fixed terms tenancies the Government goes on to say “Retaining fixed terms for students, as per the committee’s recommendation, would not in itself mean properties are available at the end of an academic year for next year’s students. Unless notice is served, tenants have a right to remain in a property when a fixed term ends, and a landlord must still use a ground for possession or section 21 to evict them.”
“We believe retaining fixed terms would unfairly lock students into contracts, meaning they could not leave if a property is poor quality, or their circumstances change. Student tenants should have the same flexibility as others.”
Section 21 Introduction Delay
The Government has agreed to delay the scrapping of Section 21 only when improvements are made to the way courts handle legitimate possession cases. They appear to be substantial improvements which may take some time to introduce including:
- Digitising more of the court process to make it simpler and easier for landlords to use.
- Prioritisation of certain cases including antisocial behaviour.
- Improving bailiff recruitment and retention.
- Providing early legal advice and better signposting for tenants including to help them find a housing solution that meets their needs.
The Government also says it wants to strengthen mediation and dispute resolution as a way for landlords to settle problems without resort to courts. They wish to “embed this as a member service of the new Ombudsman” – the latter being something all landlords must join.
Full details of these changes and others are contained in a letter to the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee which is available using the link below: