“The private rented sector plays an important role in the housing market, providing much needed homes for a wide spectrum of households.
“These reforms mark another milestone in the journey to create a suitable equilibrium between renters and private landlords who provide the majority of homes for rent."
Donnell says the private rental sector is under pressure with some landlords quitting and he warns there is a balance to be struck between improving the quality of rented housing and encouraging investment.
But he adds that Zoopla’s lettings advisory board has called for “initiatives to improve the transparency over the process of owning and renting homes.”
These include measures similar to some of those out forward by the government - for example a property register for rented homes to help with compliance and to determine whether properties meet the Decent Homes Standard.
“There is a lot of detail to work through in how this is rolled out and Zoopla will continue to work with our advisory board and estate agency partners to seek operational efficiencies in the lettings market” concludes Donnell.
A more critical response to the government has come from the chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, Nathan Emerson.
He says: “After waiting three years to see exactly what this reform will look like, we’ve now got a set of proposals titled ‘The Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper’.
“But there are some elements that don’t appear to be so.
“How is it fair that a tenant can simply end a tenancy at a time of their choosing, but an agent or landlord has to present a valid reason that is defined in law?”
Emerson continues: “Our sector provides around 4.4 million households in England with a place to live. Property is a good long-term investment but the number of property owners choosing to withdraw from this area is growing.
“That’s the result of a decade of tax and regulatory burden that simply does not incentivise investment, especially for single property landlords who make up 43 per cent of the market.
“The private rental market is already under huge strain with renters outstripping available properties and we need to be able to attract new investment.
“If Ministers really do want to create a ‘fairer private rented sector’, they must work with us to ensure these reforms are carefully balanced and any interventions to achieve short-term objectives do not constrain the market in the longer term.”
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.”