Renters Reform coming in 2023?
Renters Reform coming in 2023?
Mr Gove, the Senior Minister for Housing and Levelling up has come under mounting pressure and increasing criticism after a coroner ruled that the widely reported death of Awaab Ishak, the young child was caused by mould at home. Mould which had been reported for many months previously without any responsible response from the housing provider.
Speaking recently on Radio 4, acknowledging the Government`s tardy response to the findings of the Grenfell Enquiry, he commented: “We know there are a significant number of properties, some of which were built in the 60s and 70s and are in poor conditions, but some of which have been poorly maintained that simply need to be properly repaired and properly maintained.” He went on to say that “Everyone deserves the right to live in a safe, decent home and this government will always act to protect tenants.”
The Renters Reform White Paper proposes a huge transformation of the PRS and is due to be announced by May next year. However, one would hope that Mr Goves` comments were aimed at the Social Housing Sector, and not the PRS in general.
Pressed on the state of the PRS Gove said: “We’re going to be bringing forward more legislation to improve the position of people in the private rented sector. We want to make sure that people in the private rented sector are confident that local government is on their side. We will bring forward legislation that will give them better protection. It will come in the next calendar year, so 2023.”
Three important questions spring to mind, relating to Mr Goves` comments:
Is this timing going to be a knee jerk response to yet more criticism of the government`s handling of the PRS and Social Housing?
Is the PRS being compared to the Social Housing sector and thereby unfairly labelled?
Is the PRS ready, have the foundations been put in place for such a change or is this going to be a soundbite with some minor changes pending the consultations being fully understood?
The Renters Reform White Paper is a very complex piece of legal work which is being overlaid on an already overburdened regulated sector. If introduced in a timely and sensible timescale the PRS should be able to absorb it and work with it. However, if it is “thrown” at the PRS as a face saving response to continued bad press, the results could be disastrous. Similarly if it comes in piecemeal legislation it will be very hard to implement for the numerous reasons that many PRS stakeholders have expounded for the last two years.
Looking at Social Housing from afar, it appears to be in even more of a mess than the PRS; with many providers failing to provide adequate accommodation. By comparison, the majority of the PRS is well managed and in many cases self regulated with professional landlords caring about the welfare of their tenants and the quality of the property offered to rent. To lump both types of provider under the same umbrella would do the PRS an injustice!!
Scotland has managed to reform their PRS over the last four years, without causing too much unrest, but it has done so by making sure that everything was in place for the changes. Wales embarks this month on its journey to start their changes. There is no reason that England cannot change, but it must be done at a realistic pace that allows for a legal change to be properly implemented and understood; particularly in relation to abolishing Section 21 notices and improving Section 8 notices. There must also be sufficient funding to allow for an improved court service and changing from manual to online papers in order to speed up the process and make it easier for all parties to understand.
With consultations and reviews still in progress, is it even slightly realistic to expect an already overburdened PRS to be able to be prepared for these changes by May next year? Simply putting this in place to appease a section of baying public could potentially result in chaos, when in reality everyone accepts change is on the way and are partially ready to accept it. We can only all hope that when it is put into law, the government has listened to the abundant advice given, has thought it through thoroughly and there are no unintended consequences!!