United Kingdom

PRS expert backs ‘balancing’ amendments to Renters (Reform) Bill

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A handful of proposed amendments to the Renters’ (Reform) Bill, designed to give private rented sector (PRS) landlords more protection, has received the backing of a prominent industry expert.

Neil Cobbold, managing director of automated rental payment and client accounting specialists PayProp UK, said the Bill needed to strike the right balance between the rights of landlords and tenants, and that these amendments are a step in the right direction.

“A recent report from the Bank of England has confirmed that landlords have been leaving the PRS over a number of years because of higher taxes and an increasing burden of regulation,” he said.

“We all want to see the industry deliver a high standard of homes for tenants and a sustainable return for landlords,  encouraging current property owners to stay and new landlords to invest in more rental stock.”

The Renters (Reform) Bill is about to enter the report stage of its Commons progress, where MPs will vote on a number of amendments before its final third reading. The legislation then transfers to the House of Lords.

The amendments

Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall has tabled a series of amendments, sponsored by a number of backbench Conservative colleagues. They include:

  • Precluding tenants from giving notice to leave a property within the first four months, once fixed-term tenancies end. (This would prevent tenants treating PRS homes like short-term holiday lets);
  • Allowing evidence such as texts or e-mails from neighbours to be taken into account when courts hear eviction cases for anti-social behaviour;
  • Requiring the government to publish a review of residential possession court proceedings before allowing the proposed abolition of Section 21 evictions. (The government has already agreed to suspend the scrapping of Section 21 until the court system has been improved, but this amendment would require evidence of such improvement to be published.);
  • Ending local authority landlord licensing schemes once the national property portal is introduced. (Mr Mangnall believes local schemes would become unnecessary under the Bill’s proposed national reform and would create unnecessary duplication of effort.)
  • Protecting student housing supply by extending the grounds of possession to all properties solely occupied by one or more students. This would ensure student-occupied properties can be re-let for the next academic year.

Back in October after the Bill’s second reading, Mr Mangnall said: “We must make sure that what we provide in the Bill, in Committee and on Third Reading will reassure both tenants and landlords and take them with us. It is a balancing act of ensuring the rights of property ownership along with the rights of good, firm tenancies.”Cobbold agreed, saying: “The vast majority of landlords want to provide decent homes for their tenants, but it is imperative that they feel secure about regaining possession of their properties should they need to do so.

“Ensuring there is real progress in court reforms before any proposed eviction changes take place may reassure landlords who are worried that they may have to wait over five months to recover their property, based on current wait times.

“The four-month minimum rental period should likewise be a comfort to landlords who are concerned about tenants saying they intend to stay for a long period, but once they move in, only stay for a couple of months in the summer, and then move on.

“And giving more protection to the student market – which has been well established for many years as an annual cycle – would be good for student landlords and tenants alike.”

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