After publishing the Renters’ Reform Bill last week, the government is already considering changes to the Bill to make it easier for landlords to let out their properties to students on an annual basis.
This is the result of criticism throughout 2023 by landlords, agents, universities and student bodies that the new legislation will severely disrupt the letting of student accommodation.
The bill scraps fixed-term tenancies and introduces rolling contracts across the private rental sector. Other changes included a ban on section 21 no-fault evictions, new section 8 eviction grounds, rights for tenants to keep pets, minimum property condition standards and the introduction of a mandatory ombudsman scheme for landlords.
It is feared that the scrapping of fixed-term tenancies will allow students to stay in private rented accommodation after graduation for several months before moving out.
If landlords are unable to gain vacant possession of property for a changeover of students, this could mean months of lost rental income.
For students, the worry is that they may not be able to secure accommodation until the last moment – or even after term starts. It has also been suggested that there may be an increasing shortage of properties available as private landlords exit the student market.
The supply of student lettings is already under strain with two-fifths of universities and colleges reporting shortages at the start of the new student term in September this year.
Student bodies and landlords have lobbied government to change the legislation for student lettings. An exemption already exists in the Renters’ Reform Bill for purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) which can continue to use 12-month contracts.
The Telegraph reports the minister in charge, Michael Gove MP, is considering an amendment to the bill which entitles landlords to guaranteed vacant possession for the changeover of students and retains annual tenancies.
Chris Norris, of The National Residential Landlords Association, said: “Our recommendation is that the government add a possession ground that, subject to the tenancy qualifying as a student tenancy, could be used by landlords to bring a periodic tenancy to an end in line with a point in the academic year.”
“They’d need to define student tenancy clearly and require adequate notice, but it would be relatively simple and not undermine the wider objectives of the bill.”
A government spokesman said: “The vast majority of students move out at the end of the academic year and will not be impacted by these reforms.”
“However, we continue to engage with students and landlords on these measures to ensure they are working for both parties.”