Amid the fanfare of the Help to Buy ISA in last week's Budget, the Chancellor made another, quieter move to help renters. George Osborne pledged to legislate to stop tenants automatically being banned in their contracts from sub-letting space in their home on a short-term basis.
This move follows changes in the Deregulation Bill to allow Londoners to rent out their homes for short periods without needing planning permission - previously anyone in the capital advertising holiday lets on sites such as Airbnb was breaking the law.
However, we think there are limitations to this. Even if tenants have the right to sub-let, and despite another change in the Deregulation Bill to ban revenge evictions, without wider reform of tenancy law, landlords will still be able to evict without giving a reason.
Leo Cassini, 35, is being evicted by his landlord, Rugby School, which issued him with a no-fault Section 21 notice after he’d lived 12 years in his London flat.
Due to personal problems and difficulties associated with being a freelancer, Leo let out his spare room on Airbnb for a short period so he could pay the rent. In April 2014, Rugby School told him not to and so he stopped.
Leo, who has always paid his rent on time, and understood that the Rugby School had waived the breach, was served with a notice to quit in September 2014. Despite letters supporting Leo from local councillors, the rector of his local church and neighbours, the landlord has pursued the eviction and Leo recently received a letter notifying him that bailiffs will repossess the property on 1st April.
If renters hit a difficult patch, they are damned if they sub-let and damned if they don’t. It is excellent news that the government wants to protect renters who sub-let their spare space, but as long as section 21 exists, the rights of the landlord will always override those of their tenants.