Daniel Evans, chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, says: "This has come a lot sooner than expected, which suggests political expediency and distractions on everything from the Rwanda debacle to the vote of no confidence last week are part of the reason for the White Paper appearing so suddenly.
“While the clarity and sense of certainty will be welcomed by the industry, it seems likely that parts of the lettings industry will be happier than others about what is included.
“The issue of pets is a thorny one, and something that is difficult to mandate, but it seems like the government is trying to make it more of a right to keep pets.
“The Section 21 and Section 8 [eviction] stuff has largely been baked-in already, with it long being known that these would be subject to reform, but it’s interesting that the government seems to have quietly shelved the idea of a landlord register or mandatory redress, which some had argued would improve compliance and help rid the sector of rogue operators.
“It seems certain that there will be opposition against some of what is included in the White Paper, so we’re all in for a bit of a bumpy ride yet.”
Other reaction from the industry has been supportive, but wary.
Neil Cobbold, managing director of automated rental payment service PayProp UK, comments: “The industry certainly welcomes the greater levels of clarity. But the White Paper is only the first step, as the White Paper's purpose is only to inform the Renters’ Reform Bill, which would in the normal run of events face a potentially tricky journey through Parliament.
“This White Paper reveals the government’s plans to remove Section 21, which the industry has broadly accepted. My hope is this document will also outline how the government plans to strengthen the Section 8 eviction process and provide more resources to the courts to handle the expected increased workload once these reforms are enacted.
“There will be a collective sigh of relief now that the White Paper has finally arrived, but the issue of eviction changes needs to be handled carefully to ensure that both tenants and landlords are treated fairly when implementing such a wide-ranging reform.”
And Craig Vile, director of The ValPal Network - a product of Angels Media, publisher of Letting Agent Today and other Today industry titles, adds: "From speaking with our member agents, we know that the uncertainty surrounding rental reform has been a distraction and a source of frustration, so it's good to see that the White Paper is now with us. Most of what is being included in it has been known about for some time, including the scrapping of Section 21 and the beefing up of Section 8, but the part about tenants having the right to keep pets in their home with landlords having limited powers to refuse is likely to prove controversial.
"The issue has been boiling up for some time, with the pandemic leading to a spike in pet ownership and pet-friendly BTR apartments, but previous attempts to give tenants such rights haven't gone well.
"It will be interesting to see how much opposition there is against the pet proposals, given most landlords don't allow pets. The Decent Homes Standard for the PRS is definitely a move in the right direction to ensure all rental properties are up to scratch."
The Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper marks what the government calls “a generational shift that will redress the balance between landlords and 4.4 million private rented tenants.”
It will ban Section 21 evictions and extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private sector.
It will also end what it calls “arbitrary rent review clauses, give tenants stronger powers to challenge poor practice, unjustified rent increases and enable them to be repaid rent for non-decent homes.”
It will be illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits.
And it will make it easier for tenants to have pets, a right which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
All tenants are to be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies, which in the government’s words mean “they can leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change.”
A tenancy will only end if a tenant ends or a landlord has a valid reason, defined in law.
There will be a doubling of notice periods for rent increases and tenants will have stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified.
The government says it is also “giving councils stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders, backed by enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offences.”
There will also be a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court.
What the government calls “responsible landlords” will be able to gain possession of their properties efficiently from anti-social tenants “and can sell their properties when they need to.”
There will be a new property portal that will “provide a single front door to help landlords to understand, and comply with, their responsibilities as well as giving councils and tenants the information they need to tackle rogue operators.”