On the 2nd of February, the UK government published its flagship 'Levelling up' White Paper, which sets out how they intend to tackle regional inequality across the UK.

The shift from Whitehall to local leaders aims to create greater opportunity across all areas of the UK, with the intended result of redistributing the country’s wealth more evenly.

So what does this mean for the rental sector?

The Government uses the white paper to set 12 targets, or “missions” linked to policy objectives. Although much of the focus is on broadening opportunity across more deprived areas through focus on education and employment, the government also acknowledges the link between the quality of accommodation and health, saying:

“Poor housing quality, overcrowding and reliance on temporary accommodation for vulnerable families also contribute to unnecessarily poor health and quality of life for many.”

Mission Ten in the White Paper sets out the government’s intention to:

“…. help to ensure that by 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas; and our ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50% with the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas.”

Michael Gove - Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, enters Downing Street

What will change?

With this ambition in mind, the private rental sector is set to be impacted by several new initiatives including:

1/ A new Decent Homes Standard

    It is estimated that more than one in five private renters in the UK live in a residence that doesn’t meet the government’s existing standards for decent homes. This includes homes which contain dangerous hazards, are not in a reasonable state of repair, or lack suitable heating.

    The new Decent Homes Standard will be legally binding and apply to the private rental sector for the first time ever.

    2/ The removal of Section 21 notice

    Commonly referred to as ‘no-fault evictions’, the intention is to end the use of this notice with the aim to “end the unfair situation where renters can be kicked out of their homes for no reason”. There is still however speculation when this will be implemented.

    Rachel Lewis is Platinum's Lettings Advisor. She explains why our network are well placed to react to the changes:

    "At Platinum, our landlords are already in a strong position to adapt quickly, if necessary, to the removal of Section 21. Our experienced team actively support our landlords throughout any tenancy challenges, teaching pro-active, professional management and a positive outlook. Serving Section 21 is always a last resort, and in every case we will encourage communication and conflict negotiation to attempt to resolve any issues initially.”

    So where does that leave Section 8 notices?

    Section 8 Notices allow landlords to repossess their property if the tenant is in breach. Breaches can include the use of mandatory and discretionary Grounds and mainly relate to rent arrears, damage to the landlord’s property or extreme anti-social behaviour, to name a few.

    Unlike Section 21 Notices, tenants can challenge Section 8 evictions in court, and it can be a lengthy and costly process, heightened with the delays currently in the court systems.

    The government, however, have proposed their intention to review these grounds, and court process, potentially applying additional grounds in favour of landlords.

    Rachel says that Platinum certainly welcomes this commitment from the government, if it is implemented effectively, explaining that:

    “The Platinum network are a voice for HMO landlords who need the strengthening of grounds for repossession under Section 8, should Section 21 be removed. Every landlord should have the basic right to regain possession of their property in certain circumstances. Low level anti-social behaviour in HMOs has a large impact on life in the house and the existing grounds under Section 8 do not go far enough. Applying a common-sense approach will allow our landlords to continue to manage their HMOs effectively - and provide their tenants the opportunity to enjoy life as co-sharers in their home, while building a sense of community.”

    3/ A Landlord Register

    An idea which is referenced in the Paper that would bring England in line with the rest of the UK, helping to eliminate rogue landlords. At present, only HMO landlords need to be registered.

    Rachel says that “The proposed Landlord Register further highlights the requirement for compliant properties - an area in which our landlords already excel! Any landlord operating in the world of HMOs needs to understand the regulatory requirements and commitment, and with Platinum, that process is already at our core. Rogue Landlords - your time is up!"

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