Landlords could be forced to give their tenants refunds in a major shake-up to renters’ rights.
Landlords will soon be faced with returning rent money back to tenants if they fail to maintain accommodation in a suitable condition for those living in it.
The standards of social housing will be expanded to private rental homes to prevent people from living in damp, unsafe and cold accommodation.
This also includes the launch of a private renters’ ombudsman to mediate between renters, and landlords, where tenants can request the repayment of rent if they are living in a substandard home.
Among this change, the UK’s housing secretary Michael Gove will be announcing today that fixed-term tenancies will soon be phased out and replaced with open-ended contracts to allow renters to move out when they have good reason to do so.
Refusing to rent to families with children or for renters who claim benefits will also become outlawed, as well as ‘no-fault’ evictions which allow tenancies to be ended with no good reason.
During the pandemic, 5,890 landlords in England began no-fault eviction court proceedings against tenants between January and March 2022, according to UK Government figures - an increase of 41 percent compared to pre-pandemic tenancy court proceedings.
However, there are also going to be plans in place to allow trustworthy landlords to reclaim the possession of their properties from unacceptable renters.
These changes also include the right for tenants to keep a pet, and are part of the Renters’ Reform Bill, which was previously announced by the Queen in her annual speech.
Polly Neate, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said of the changes in a statement: "The Queen’s Speech shows the government has listened to the voices of renters, who have been fighting for a long time to be heard. For years private renters have said they need more security, so they don’t have to live in constant fear of a no-fault eviction.
“And for years social renters have tirelessly campaigned to be taken seriously when they say something is wrong. It's been five years since the fire at Grenfell tower, and we’re now one step further on the road to justice.
“These vital bills could finally give renters a system that is fair and safe – with the scrapping of Section 21, a new property portal that allows people to check their landlord is decent, and regulation to strengthen the rights of social tenants. But these promises will remain words on page until they become law. Now the government needs to get the job done.”
An estimated 4.4 million families rent private homes in England, with a fifth of such properties being dubbed as ‘unfit’.
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