New rights for renters as Gove hails crackdown on 'damp, unsafe and cold' homes

11 May 2022, 00:35 | Updated: 11 May 2022, 05:44

Michael Gove says the the Renters Reform Bill represents a "new deal" for people renting in England
Michael Gove says the the Renters Reform Bill represents a "new deal" for people renting in England. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Renters will no longer live in "damp, unsafe and cold homes" under new legislation announced in the Queen's Speech, Michael Gove has declared.

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Tuesday's timetable for new laws included the Renters Reform Bill, which the Housing Secretary says represents a "new deal" for people renting in England.

Some 21% of the sector currently live in homes of an unacceptable quality, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said.

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In a bid to tackle this, the Bill will extend the Decent Homes Standard to the 4.4 million households privately renting.

Officials said it would also provide security for tenants in the private rented sector by ending Section 21 notices, which allow landlords to evict a tenant without having to give a reason.

Almost a quarter of those who moved in the past year did not end their tenancy by choice, figures shared by DLUHC suggested.

The measures have been widely welcomed by housing charities for helping to address the concerns of renters, particularly around no-fault evictions.

Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: "Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe and cold homes, powerless to put it right, and under the threat of sudden eviction.

"The new deal for renters announced today will help to end this injustice, improving conditions and rights for millions of renters.

"This is all part of our plan to level up communities and improve the life chances of people from all corners of the country."

Mr Gove's department has promised that the Renters Reform Bill will introduce an ombudsman so disputes between private landlords and tenants can be resolved without going to court.

While Section 21 will be abolished, ministers plan to introduce stronger possession grounds for landlords when there are repeated incidences of rent arrears, and reduce notice periods when there is antisocial behaviour.

A property portal will be established to help landlords understand their responsibilities and give tenants "performance indication" to hold their landlord to account, DLUHC said.

Using a separate Social Housing Regulation Bill announced on Tuesday, cabinet minister Mr Gove plans to increase social housing tenants' rights, and improve how they can hold landlords to account, in response to concerns raised by the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.

Under the changes, the regulator will be able to inspect landlords and intervene when they poorly handle issues such as complaints, while new tenant satisfaction measures will be introduced so tenants can see how their landlord is performing compared to others.

Housing association tenants will be able to request information from their landlord in a similar way to how local authority landlords are subject to Freedom of Information requests.

And there will be no limit to how much the regulator can fine a landlord who falls short of the required standards.