UK Government Holding Consultation on Consequential Changes to Homelessness Legislation

The UK government has announced a consultation on Homelessness Legislation. It will seek to consider the proposed changes of Renters Reform.

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Homelessness Legislation

UK Government Holding Consultation on Consequential Changes to Homelessness Legislation

Following the release of the Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper in June this year, the UK government has announced a consultation on Homelessness Legislation. Its aim is to gather evidence and views on abolishing s21 notices and moving towards Assured Tenancies. The consultation will run for 7 weeks from 7th December.

New Government Propositions to Allow Landlords Properties Back

The current system offers fixed or periodic assured shorthold tenancies, but the government proposes that all tenancies become periodic. This gives landlords more flexibility to end the tenancy at any time. However, a landlord will not be able to evict without satisfying the relevant ground for possession. The proposed changes will allow Landlords to get their properties back in certain situations. For example, when they want to sell. Also, it would extend moving-in grounds to include extended family members.

The contemplated changes in the Renters Reform Bill will have far-reaching effects on homelessness legislation. The consultation currently underway by the UK government is identifying which parts of the Housing Act 1996 need to be amended, and their proposed changes for each part of the legislation. The government has suggested making these alterations through the Renters Reform Bill and by issuing an update to the Homelessness Code of Guidance.

The Government has said that most changes are minor in that they remove reference to section 21 notices and replace references throughout the legislation to assured shorthold tenancies and fixed-term tenancies with assured tenancies.

Some Legislation Changes Will Have Larger Impact

There are two parts of the legislation where the removal of the reference to section 21 notices has larger impact. Firstly, the ‘threatened with homelessness definition’ in part 7 and section 175 of the Housing Act 1996. And secondly, the ‘ending of prevention duty’ in part 7, section 195 sub section 6 of the Housing Act 1996. Currently, if a local authority accepts the prevention duty under certain circumstances, they may not be able to end the duty if those circumstances still stand. The government has proposed three options for changing these parts of the legislation and the removal of ‘the reapplication duty.’

The reapplication duty was introduced in response to the concern about the short-term nature of assured shorthold tenancies. It meant that those tenants who accepted a private rented sector offer may become homeless within two years. Hence, on an application for assistance they may be found to no longer have a priority need. The White Paper proposes that all tenancies will be assured and offered greater security of tenure. As a result, increased security of tenure and removal of section 21 notices would mean that the reapplication duty was no longer relevant.

Landlords Concerned About Rental Reform Can Seek Advice

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the results of the consultation and proposals for reform in 2023. Are you a landlord and worried by any of the above proposals? Please do not hesitate to contact Woodstock Legal Services with any queries you may have.

Written by Sharfaa Kerkache

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