Everything you need to know about the Renters Reform Bill

On 17 May 2023, the government introduced the Renters Reform Bill to parliament aiming to deliver “safer, fairer and higher quality homes.” But what exactly does the bill include and what does it mean for landlords and tenants? We reveal everything you need to know here. 

What is the Renters Reform Bill?

The new Bill highlights the government’s plan to reform the private rented sector. The government has confirmed that they want to “bring a better deal for renters” in the “biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in 30 years.” It hasn’t yet been passed through parliament which means it’s not yet law but the Housing Secretary has confirmed he’d like to see quick movement. 

The Bill has been introduced after the government said there is a lack of security in the private rented sector and also responsible landlords are facing several challenges because of criminal landlords. The government also identified that nearly 25% of private rented homes don’t meet basic standards and therefore wants to put policies in place to stop this from happening. 

Improving the private rented sector was first introduced in June 2022 when a white paper was printed which proposed changes including doubling notice periods for rent reviews, making all tenancies periodic, establishing a new property ombudsman, and creating a new property portal. Most of the proposals included in the June 2022 white paper have been kept in the May 2023 Bill.

The 2023 Renters Reform Bill 

The Bill sets out the government’s plans to abolish section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions which means landlords will only be able to evict a tenant in reasonable circumstances. Instead, the government wants to strengthen section 8 which allows landlords to end a tenancy if they have legal reason to do so including repeated arrears. There is also new ground for a landlord to apply a section 8 in the event that they want to sell the property or if they wish a family member to move into the property.

The government has also confirmed that they want to simplify the tenancy process, by moving shorthold tenancies onto a system of periodic tenancies. This means that tenancies would run month by month, without an end date. A two month notice would be required by tenants who wish to end their tenancy, however. 

Under the changes, the government also wants rent increases to be limited to once a year and landlords must also provide two months’ notice of any increases. The Bill also outlines that tenants should have more rights when it comes to keeping pets and landlords cannot withhold consent without reason. A tenant must have insurance for their pets to protect the property against any damage. 

The government may also require landlords to join an ombudsman, regardless of whether they use a letting agent. This new ombudsman would have specific powers in the event that a tenant-landlord dispute is created. A new property portal for private landlords and tenants to aid understanding and compliance of legal requirements is due to be created too. 

Finally, while the Bill doesn’t set out plans for a new Decent Home Standard to ensure all private rented properties are up to a specific quality, the government has confirmed they are still committed to ensuring this is put in place in the future. 

It’s important to remember that the Renters Reform Bill hasn’t yet been passed so none of the above is set in stone but we could see huge changes in the industry very soon. If you have any questions about any of the information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of property experts. 

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