A couple of weeks following the Government's announcement that the abolition of “no fault evictions” would be delayed indefinitely pending reforms to the court system, the Renters (Reform) Bill nevertheless featured in today's King's Speech. This is a Bill which has already had its first and second readings in the House of Commons.
There is little that is new on renters reform in the Speech and the accompanying briefing note itself, but the Government has reiterated its commitment to reforming the sector. The key proposals contained in the Bill are summarised in our Insight here.
It remains to be seen how the Bill will evolve through Parliament and ultimately strike a balance between the rights of landlords and tenants.
Tenants have long argued that no fault evictions are unfair as they afford little protection or security to them, with landlords able to serve two months' notice requiring possession at the end of the term, for no reason. Landlords are concerned that on top of the increasing regulatory demands, a ban on no fault evictions could make evicting problematic tenants harder, exacerbated by the severe backlogs and delays in the court system.
What is clear from today's announcement is that the Government still intends to progress the Bill through Parliament but it has said that the reforms will be contingent on improving the court system. The briefing note to the King’s Speech suggests that the Government is committing to investing £1.2 million “to begin designing a new digital system for possession”, which will aim to make the court process more efficient for landlords if they can demonstrate a ground for seeking possession. What is not yet clear is the timeline for delivery nor the impact it will have. Some of the current delays are affected by staff shortages of Court bailiffs to enforce possession orders which would not be affected by a digital system for possession.
“Renters will benefit from stronger security of tenure and better value, while landlords will benefit from reforms to provide certainty that they can regain their properties when needed.”