For the past four years, the Law Commission has been working on a project called ‘Renting Homes’ which is looking at housing law in England and Wales with a view to making it less complex.
Two consultation papers (with over 400 responses) and over 70 public visits later, they have now produced a final report and draft ‘Renting Homes’ bill. So what does it say?
Here are some of their recommendations:
- Replacing the 13 or so types of agreement with just two – one for social landlords and one for private landlords
- Making tenancy agreements (or rather occupation agreements as they will be used for licenses as well as tenancies) more comprehensive, including all relevant law. They will be much longer than most current agreements, and most of their content will be prescribed (ie will be compulsory)
- Landlords will be under a legal duty to to provide an agreement in the proper form – if they don’t occupiers will be legally entitled to withhold up to two months rent, plus landlords will not be able to evict them for six months after the agreement is finally provided.
- It will be possible to add a new occupier to an agreement without having to draft up a new one
- One of joint occupiers will be able to end their liability under an agreement without affecting the other occupiers
- There will be a new procedure landlords will be able to use if they think tenants have abandoned the property, to recover possession without having to get a court order
If the draft bill becomes law it will be a major piece of legislation affecting millions of people – some 1/3 of all property in England and Wales is rented, approximatly 10% being with private landlords.
The only current types of tenancy which (as the bill is currently drafted) will not be affected, will be protected/secure tenants under the Rent Act 1977 and tenancies under the Rent (Agriculture) Act.