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Government 12-point plan of action for the private rental sector

Foreword from the Secretary of State

Everyone has a right to a decent home. No one should be condemned to live in properties that are inadequately heated, unsafe, or unhealthy. Yet more than 2.8 million of our fellow citizens are paying to live in homes that are not fit for the 21st century. Tackling this is critical to our mission to level up the country.

The reality today is that far too many renters are living in damp, dangerous, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them.

This government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a New Deal to those living in the Private Rented Sector; one with quality, affordability, and fairness at its heart.

In our Levelling Up White Paper - published earlier this year - we set out a clear mission to halve the number of poor-quality homes by 2030.

Our 12-point plan of action

While the government’s action over recent years has driven improvements, we know there is more to be done. We are committed to robust and comprehensive changes to create a Private Rented Sector that meets the needs of the diverse tenants and landlords who live and work within it. We have a 12-point plan of action:

1.   We will deliver on our levelling up housing mission to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030 and require privately rented homes to meet the Decent Homes Standard for the first time. This will give renters safer, better value homes and remove the blight of poor-quality homes in local communities.

2.   We will accelerate quality improvements in the areas that need it most. We will run pilot schemes with a selection of local councils to explore different ways of enforcing standards and work with landlords to speed up adoption of the Decent Homes Standard.

3.   We will deliver our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and deliver a simpler, more secure tenancy structure. A tenancy will only end if the tenant ends it or if the landlord has a valid ground for possession, empowering tenants to challenge poor practice and reducing costs associated with unexpected moves.

4.   We will reform grounds for possession to make sure that landlords have effective means to gain possession of their properties when necessary. We will expedite landlords’ ability to evict those who disrupt neighbourhoods through antisocial behaviour and introduce new grounds for persistent arrears and sale of the property.

5.   We will only allow increases to rent once per year, end the use of rent review clauses, and improve tenants’ ability to challenge excessive rent increases through the First Tier Tribunal to support people to manage their costs and to remain in their homes.

6.   We will strengthen tenants’ ability to hold their landlord to account and introduce a new single Ombudsman that all private landlords must join. This will provide fair, impartial, and binding resolution to many issues and be quicker, cheaper, and less adversarial than the court system. Alongside this, we will consider how we can bolster and expand existing rent repayment orders and enable tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes.

7.   We will work with the Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) to target the areas where there are unacceptable delays in court proceedings. We will also strengthen mediation and alternative dispute resolution to enable landlords and tenants to work together to reduce the risk of issues escalating.

8.   We will introduce a new Property Portal to make sure that tenants, landlords and local councils have the information they need. The portal will provide a single ‘front door’ for landlords to understand their responsibilities, tenants will be able to access information about their landlord’s compliance, and local councils will have access to better data to crack down on criminal landlords. Subject to consultation with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), we also intend to incorporate some of the functionality of the Database of Rogue Landlords, mandating the entry of all eligible landlord offences and making them publicly visible.

9.   We will strengthen local councils’ enforcement powers and ability to crack down on criminal landlords by seeking to increase investigative powers and strengthening the fine regime for serious offences. We are also exploring a requirement for local councils to report on their housing enforcement activity and want to recognise those local councils that are doing a good job.

10.         We will legislate to make it illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits and explore if similar action is needed for other vulnerable groups, such as prison leavers. We will improve support to landlords who let to people on benefits, which will reduce barriers for those on the lowest incomes.

11.         We will give tenants the right to request a pet in their property, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. We will also amend the Tenant Fees Act 2019 so that landlords can request that their tenants buy pet insurance.

12.         We will work with industry experts to monitor the development of innovative market-led solutions to passport deposits. This will help tenants who struggle to raise a second deposit to move around the PRS more easily and support tenants to save for ownership.

We know action is needed now and the Renters Reform Bill will bring forward legislation in this Parliamentary session to deliver on our wide-reaching commitments. Collectively, this 12-point plan will create a Private Rented Sector that is fit for the 21st century. It will give good landlords the confidence and support they need to provide decent and secure homes. It will end the geographical disparities whereby renters in deprived areas are most likely to have to put up with terrible conditions that harm their health.

This 12-point plan will provide further support for tenants on their path to home ownership, in addition to government-backed schemes such as the new First Homes programme, the new Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme, Shared Ownership scheme and mortgage guarantee scheme. These schemes have already helped over 774,000 households to purchase a home. We are going further to support home ownership by examining reform of the mortgage market to boost access to finance for first time buyers, extend the Right to Buy to Housing Association tenants, delivering on a long-standing commitment made by several governments, and removing home ownership disincentives in the welfare system. We will accelerate our progress on housing supply by working with communities to build the right homes in the right places across England.