Government announces long-promised plans to end ‘no-fault’ evictions

(Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
(Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

Long-awaited plans to abolish no-fault evictions and give renters the right to keep pets will be introduced in Parliament on Wednesday.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said the sweeping reforms will allow tenants to challenge poor landlords without losing their home.

Renters will also be given the legal right to request to keep an animal in their home which landlords must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse, the Government said.

A new ombudsman will be appointed to oversee dispute resolutions while a digital “property portal” will be set up to assist property managers in understanding their obligations, according to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

Landlords will also be given more powers to easily evict anti-social tenants, and the number of disruptive activities that can lead to eviction will be broadened.

Mr Gove said the plans represent a “new deal” with “fairness at its heart”.

However political rivals have argue the laws are “long overdue” and the new Bill fails to protect tenants from rent hikes being used to circumvent the new rules.

“Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them,” Mr Gove said.

“This Government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a new deal to those living in the private rented sector; one with quality, affordability and fairness at its heart.”

The plans will affect two million landlords and 11 million tenants in England, including more than 1million households in London.

Notice periods will be reduced where renters have been “irresponsible” – for example, by breaching their tenancy agreement or causing damage to the property.

A new ombudsman will be appointed to oversee dispute resolutions while a digital “property portal” will be set up to assist property managers in understanding their obligations.

The Bill also seeks to make it illegal for landlords and agents to impose blanket bans on renting to benefit claimants or families with children, and apply home quality standards to the private rented sector for the first time.

Ending no-fault evictions is a “sensible thing to do”, Transport Minister Richard Holden said on Wednesday.

“I think we’ve got to strike the right balance here between ensuring that renters can have somewhere safe and secure to live and have a normal life there, and also ensure that some rogue tenants don’t disrupt entire neighbourhoods for people as well,” he told Sky News.

Mr Holden added that he did not own his own home until he was in his mid-30s.

“I rented all the way through,” he said.

Campaigners welcomed the “once-in-a-generation” announcement, but union members warned that people renting out their homes may be able to “circumnavigate” the rules by using large rent hikes to force unwanted tenants out.

Dan Wilson Craw, acting director of campaign group Generation Rent, said the legislation is a “huge opportunity” to improve the lives of tenants across England.

“Abolishing no-fault evictions will take away much of the stress of renting and improve communication and trust between tenants and landlords. The new property portal and ombudsman have the potential to make it much harder for criminal landlords to operate.

“These reforms wouldn’t be happening without the tireless campaigning of members of the Renters Reform Coalition and thousands of renters over many years. We look forward to reading the Bill and working with ministers and parliamentarians to make sure the legislation achieves what it sets out to do.”

But Siobhan Donnachie, from the London Renters Union, branded the Bill "long overdue" and said "inflation-busting rent" will mean renters will still feel insecure.

"Bringing an end to the blight of no-fault evictions is long overdue. Too many families have been forced into homelessness in the four years since the Tories promised to end this cruel legislation," she said.

Michael Webb, head of policy and public affairs at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home, said tenants being unable to find anywhere to rent with their pet is a key reason why many people take their animals to the home.

“Not only will this Bill bring us one step closer to significantly reducing the number of dogs and cats we see being needlessly separated from their owners, it will also open up the many joys of pet ownership to millions of renters in the future,” he said.