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Published On: May 29, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

Student Accommodation and Renters Reform – Scanning the Legislative Horizon

The long-promised abolition of “no-fault eviction” section 21 notices has created great uncertainty for student accommodation providers. The sector was very critical of the proposal to abolish fixed term tenancies entirely, and substantial efforts were made to try to persuade the Government to create special exemptions from the proposals which could make it more difficult for landlords to make properties available in cycle with the academic year.

These lobbying efforts were partially successful – the government refused to create an exemption in the Renters (Reform) Bill which would permit fixed-term tenancies in student accommodation, but did concede that student accommodation providers should have the benefit of a new ‘ground for possession’ allowing evictions of tenants who were students at the end of the academic year. Adding to the confusion, guidance written by civil servants promised special treatment for the purpose-built student accommodation providers, but this never materialised in the draft legislation being considered by Parliament.

The failure to pass the Renters (Reform) Bill before Parliament dissolved for the general election means the changes to the law are postponed – the proposals must be re-introduced to Parliament from scratch, and a new government might want to give different shape to the details surrounding the abolition of section 21 notices.

Some clues about how a Labour government might address student accommodation in its own legislation can be gleaned from the proceedings of the Renters (Reform) Bill  at committee stage. At that stage, Labour members of the committee raised practical issues with the Governments proposals, pointing out that many students follow the traditional academic year. Concerns were also raised about the possibility of the proposed ground for possession relating to student accommodation being abused by unscrupulous landlords. Rather than entirely reject the idea that student rentals should be dealt with differently from other residential tenancies, Labour’s Matthew Pennycooke (Shadow Minister of State for Housing and Planning) invited the government to “think carefully about whether the amendment might be improved to guard against any unintended consequences that might arise from it.”

But political winds can change quickly, and there is not guarantee that a Labour Government with a large majority would still be minded to make concessions to the sector. Student accommodation providers might find themselves facing a very different landscape from what they expected.

In our webinar on 10 July we will address some of the biggest legal issues facing student accommodation providers now, as well as looking at what we can expect for the sector in a revived Renters (Reform) Bill.

* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

Robin Stewart

Joint Manager of Private Sector Residential Landlord and Tenant

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