Clause 9 - Duty to give statement of terms and other information

Part of Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:00 pm ar 23 Tachwedd 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 3:00, 23 Tachwedd 2023

Clause 9 would insert proposed new section 16D into the 1988 Act. It places a duty on landlords to provide the tenant, as the Minister made clear, with a written statement of terms and information on or before the first day of a tenancy. Landlords must state in the written statement of terms where they may wish to make use of any of the prior notice grounds 1B, 2ZA, 2ZB, 4, 5 to 5G or 18. Given that prior notice is currently required for use of possession ground 1, but the Government propose to remove that requirement from the new ground 1, may I press the Minister again to explain precisely why the Government believe that that change is necessary?

I would like to make some brief comments about Government new clause 3 and put a number of questions to the Minister about it. These are complex questions, so I have no issue with the Minister writing to me at a later date rather than answering now. New clause 3 replaces clause 9, thereby applying the provisions of the clause to landlords’ contractors as well as landlords; carving out certain tenancies by implication; and modifying specific provisions for certain tenancies. Leaving aside quite how the Government got themselves in the situation where they are replacing entire clauses in Committee, I would be grateful if the Minister clarified why the Government have alighted on applying these provisions to “contractors”, given that the standard term, both in plain English and in statute, is “agent”?

A whole series of further questions arises from the new clause. What is the definition of a contractor? Does it have to be a written contract? What happens if the information is not provided? Did the Government consider whether a rent repayment order might be appropriate in the circumstances, or whether a court should be given the power to order that it be provided? What if the contractor excludes liability for providing the material in question, given that we know that that happens in other instances, for example with letting agents excluding liability to tell the landlord about any relevant licensing schemes? I would appreciate any insight that the Minister can offer today into any of those points. As I say, I am more than happy to accept a written response to my detailed questions, if necessary.