The times they are a changin, and we're not just talking about the last 12-or-so months. New renting laws are coming into effect this year, some with the aim of protecting renters and giving them more rights during their in-life tenancy; others to safeguard landlords. But what are these rules? We've compiled the new regulations that you should know about as a renter. So read on and find out how they affect you.
The end of the Covid bailiff ban
Let's start things off with a somewhat controversial law. As of June 2021, the ban on bailiffs using enforcement to evict renters will be lifted. Initially, it was put in place during the lockdowns, with bailiffs unable to go into homes where people had Covid.
However, the ban will now come to an end, with bailiffs gaining powers to use enforcement tactics on behalf of landlords who want to regain their property from renters in rent arrears. The government has said it will give landlords "access to justice" from non-paying renters, but Generation Rent has called for the government to set up a "rent debt fund", allowing renters to clear debts and landlords to claim lost income.
More rights for pet owners
Renters will find it easier to move into a new home with their four-legged friend after the announcement of the Dogs and Domestic Animals Bill. Landlords can no longer automatically ban renters from having pets in their property, and consent for animals will be the default position.
That means there will be no blanket ban on pets. Instead, landlords will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a renter, providing a good reason for why renters shouldn't have a pet in their home.
Eviction notice reduced to four months
Notice periods were extended to six months during Covid, but from June the rules will change again. If everything is back to normal by October, notice periods will return to pre-pandemic rules.
That means landlords can give renters four months' notice. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that most landlords own just one property and are vulnerable to rent arrears. However, there are some concerns that it could lead to an increase in homeless for renters and there has been plenty of opposition.
Mandatory electrical checks for renters
There is now more legislation to protect renters from law-breaking landlords who allow their tenants to move into hazardous homes. New laws recently introduced mean that rented properties in England will require an electrical safety inspection every five years by law.
Known as an EICR, the report is the responsibility of the landlord and will detail any potential urgent work needed on the property concerning the electrics. Landlords who fail to comply could face fines of up to £30,000.
A new lifetime deposit that allows renters to automatically transfer their deposits between landlords when they move looks set to come into effect. It works by giving renters "passport deposits" electronically instead of paying a deposit on their new home while waiting for the previous landlord to refund the money.
And while it hasn't been green lit yet, it was mentioned in the Queen's Speech, with her majesty confirming a Renter Reform White Paper has been drawn up to reshape renting. Keep your eyes peeled for this one, as it could be a biggie.
Staying in the know
Most of the new legislation is positive for renters, and it's important that you know what's what in the world of renting. If you ever have any issues, it's always worth communicating with the landlord to try and stop things from escalating. And most importantly, you should always know your renting rights, so you can enjoy your home with more confidence.