A lettings agency claims eviction powers may actually increase – not reduce – thanks to the controversial Renters Reform Bill.
Knight Frank says that the Renters Reform Bill is designed to support tenants, and that landlords have been understandably concerned that a proposal to scrap no-fault evictions increases the risk of them not being able to get their property back.
However the agency says that on closer inspection, it appears the risks are lower than feared.
And according to Beverley Kennard, head of lettings operations at Knight Frank, although the mechanism itself will change, the grounds that landlords can use to get their property back have actually increased.
She is referring to the expansion of eviction powers under Section 8 of the Housing Act, which some people interpret as compensating for the abolition of Section 21.
“The [grounds] now include rent arrears and anti-social behaviour, which should give landlords even more comfort” says Kennard.
Knight Frank, in its latest lettings market snapshot, says the government has a balancing act to perform as it presses ahead with changes to the rental sector.
After nearly doubling in size since the early 2000’s, the private rented sector has accounted for about a fifth of households in England since 2013-14.
The agency states: “So, it seems fair that legislation should reflect the growing number of renters in the country. In London, the number of households in the private rented sector is closer to a third so the impact of any changes would be greater. The juggling act the government needs to perform is tipping the balance of power back towards tenants while ensuring the changes don’t cause more landlords to leave the sector.”
During the first four months of this year, the number of new prospective tenants in prime central and prime outer London was 39 per cent higher than the five-year average, says Knight Frank.
But the problem is supply. In the same period, the number of new listings was 34 per cent lower.
The agency says laws of supply and demand mean that rents rise.
“Average rents in prime central London rose 15.4 per cent in the year to May, while the increase was 13 per cent in prime outer London. Average rents are more than 25 per cent higher in both areas since the start of the pandemic.”
Knight Frank’s view is that doubts remain around whether tenants will have the flexibility to pay rent up front and the practicality of shorter notice periods, but the agency says the legislation still has a long way to go before it is introduced.
The agency concludes: “The overall message for landlords is that it is not as bad as feared. The problem is that the Bill may be the final straw for some landlords, which would only increase upwards pressure on rents.
“For the government, the risk is that with 20 per cent of the country renting, that is a lot of voters.”