Arguably, the most dramatic change in the Renters Reform Bill was the proposed abolition of the section 21 process. On Friday last week the government made a U-turn on the proposed change that many have been eagerly following. The government still intends to abolish section 21 but has now made this conditional upon improvements to the court process.

The government’s response to a report by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee on Reforming the Private Rented Sector states:

“Implementation of the new system will not take place until we judge sufficient progress has been made to improve the courts. That means we will not proceed with the abolition of section 21, until reforms to the justice system are in place.

The target areas for improvements include:

          digitising more of the court process to make it simpler and easier for landlords to use;

          exploring the prioritisation of certain cases, including antisocial behaviour;

          improving bailiff recruitment and retention and reducing administrative tasks so bailiffs can prioritise possession enforcement; and

          providing early legal advice and better signposting for tenants, including to help them find a housing solution that meets their needs.

We are also strengthening mediation and dispute resolution, seeking to embed this as a member service of the new Ombudsman. This will give landlords stronger tools to resolve disputes before court action is needed.

We are running bailiff recruitment campaigns and have reduced administrative burdens to free up resource for bailiffs to focus on enforcement activity, including the enforcement of possession orders. We will explore further improvements to bailiff’s recruitment and retention practices.”

These proposals will be welcomed by many, but improvements of this magnitude will take a long time to implement. Reforming the justice system is not a quick fix and is something that is likely to take years rather than months.

The Bill has its second reading in the House of Commons today.

Alina De Heer
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Alina De Heer

Alina has dealt with landlord and tenant disputes since 2014, and qualified as a solicitor in 2017. She acts for both landlord and tenant, companies and individuals, as well as managing agents, residents’ associations and Right to Manage companies, often appearing on behalf of clients in the local County Court.