On the 17th of May 2023, the government introduced the Renter’s (Reform) Bill to parliament.
Bills of this kind are required to go through an extensive parliamentary process prior to actually becoming law. As of now, the Bill is due to go through its second reading on the 23rd of October 2023, in the House of Commons.
If you’re a landlord or tenant wondering how you’ll be affected by the proposed changes, this guide is for you. Keep reading for a complete run-down on the Renter’s (Reform) Bill.
What is the Renter’s (Reform) Bill?
The Renter’s (Reform) Bill aims to address England’s current housing crisis by bringing in “a better deal for renters”, and is set to legislate for terms set out in the 2022 white paper titled ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’. This includes abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions and reforming landlord possession grounds.
Who Will the Renter’s (Reform) Bill Affect?
Stated in the Bill itself, the terms outlined by the government promise to “improve the system for both the 11 million private renters and 2.3 million landlords in England”.
The Bill seeks to protect renters who have continued to face “a precarious lack of security” with regards to current legislative terms such as the ‘no fault’ evictions’.
It is no secret that there has been a major rental crisis happening across the country for some time, with thousands struggling to find homes, and those that are managing to source housing often being disappointed with the standards of living they are met with.
The Bill highlights that nearly a quarter of private rented homes “do not meet basic decency standards” for living, and aims to set out a Decent Homes Standard to the rental sector in the future.
It also aims to support responsible landlords who are continuously being met with certain issues, such as being “undercut by a minority of criminal landlords”.
What is Included in the Renter’s (Reform) Bill?
Developed in consultation with both landlords and tenants over the course of the past five years, the Renter’s (Reform) Bill promises to:
- Abolish ‘no fault’ evictions: The Bill will entirely dispose of Section 21, shifting to a simpler tenancy structure that allows for periodic tenancies only. This will give more security to renters and allow them to challenge poor living spaces and rent increases with confidence, safe in the knowledge they won’t be unfairly evicted.
- More comprehensive possession grounds: This means landlords will still be able to easily recover or repossess their property in situations when the tenant is at fault.
- Stronger protections against backdoor eviction: The Bill will enable tenants to appeal excessively above-market rents which are clearly in place for the purpose of forcing them out. If needed, an independent tribunal will be called in to make a judgement on the rental market price for individual properties.
- A new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman: This will provide a fair and impartial resolution to landlord/tenant disputes, in a far quicker, cheaper, and more binding manner than an entire court system.
- A new Private Rented Property Portal: This will be designed to support landlords in getting to grips with understanding their legal obligations, and provide tenants with information needed to make better judgements and decisions around their tenancy agreements. Local councils will also be given access to this support to help them target enforcement activity when needed.
- Right to request for pets: Under the Bill, landlords must consider pet requests and cannot unreasonably refuse. In order to support this term, landlords will be able to claim for pet insurance if any damage has been done to their property.
As well as these terms, the Bill has laid out its priority for utilising a modern, digital service within the private rental sector, with the government working in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunals Service to support this.
What Does the Future of the Renter’s (Reform) Bill Have in Store for Landlords and Tenants?
Further down the line, the government also aims to add these terms to the list set out above:
- Decent Homes Standard: This hopes to provide renters with safer, better quality homes, removing those houses that are substandard from the local communities in support of the government’s Levelling Up mission to halve the number of non-decent homes in the country by the year 2030.
- Illegalise blanket bans: This will make it impossible for landlords to have blanket bans on certain tenants who receive benefits or have children, minimising unfair discrimination in the private rental sector.
- New enforcement activity reports: This requirement will mean councils have to report on local enforcement activity, supporting the government in identifying criminal landlords.
How Much Notice Will Landlords Get on the New Bill?
When the Bill comes into play, the terms outlined will apply to all new tenancies granted on or after its commencement date. For existing tenancies, the new terms will apply until the expiry of a tenant’s fixed term, or else on a date set out in the regulations.
If you’re a landlord looking to rent your property and need a bit of help navigating the rules and requirements to get your home on the rental market and tenants in, why not get in touch with us today. One of our friendly team will be happy to help.