Examination of Witness

Part of Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:32 am ar 16 Tachwedd 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Judicaelle Hammond:

No, it is none of those things. In terms of the alternative set of grounds, I think some new grounds in the Bill are really helpful, such as the incoming agricultural workers ground, the employers ground and the ground for repeated rent arrears. Where we would want to go further comes within two buckets: an economic bucket and a compliance bucket.

In the economic bucket, the new mandatory ground for possession for an incoming agricultural worker is great. We would like it extended, because although 85% of rural businesses have nothing to do with agriculture, quite a lot of them still need to house employees. For example, they could be in tourism, hospitality, trades, food manufacturing, forestry or the care professions, which we tend to forget. There is something about rural areas, just by dint of geography and the fact that they might be away from other places, so extending that ground would be very helpful.

Still in the economic bucket, there is another scenario. Here we are looking at properties being required to house an outgoing or retired agricultural worker or another protected tenant whom the landlord has a statutory duty to house and who is being moved to suitable alternative accommodation. This is in cases in which there is a new employee who will replace, as part of the business, an outgoing employee, but the landlord either still wants to house that outgoing employee or has a duty to house them. They might therefore need another property in which to house that retired employee or that protected employee. That is the second ground.

The third ground is where a landlord intends to use a property, or the land on which it is situated, for a completely non-residential purpose, by which we mean making it a workshop, turning it into an office or putting it to a commercial use. These are the three grounds in the economic bucket, if you like.

I have another two grounds, in terms of compliance with statutory duties, that are not yet in the Bill and which I will go over quickly. It is more than just a rural issue, but we are hearing quite a lot about it in our case load. The first is a landlord needing possession to undertake works required to meet statutory obligations—for example, minimum energy efficiency standards or the proposed decent homes standard. In some of the properties that our members have, the works that will be needed are so extensive that you cannot do them with a sitting tenant; you need to regain possession. The second ground that we would like to see is where there is a persistent refusal by a tenant to allow in a landlord or their agent for a statutory inspection, for example for gas and electricity safety. You would be surprised at how often this is the case.