Renter’s Reform Bill Finally Lands in Westminster
It's been four years in the making, but the Renter's Reform Bill has finally landed in Parliament with a promise of a new deal for renters.
Since the measures were first announced in April 2019, drafting the bill has seen off eight housing ministers and four prime ministers - but at last, the promised biggest shake-up of private rentals in a generation is before MPs for a first reading.
The main events include:
- The scrapping of Section 21 no-fault evictions
- A new law ending landlord blanket rejections of tenants on benefits or who have children
- Easier evictions of poorly behaving tenants
- A legal right to keep pets for renters - with a provision for landlords to demand renters take out insurance to cover the cost of any damage caused by their animals
- The first decent homes standard for private rentals
- A new property ombudsman to quickly deal with conflict between landlords and tenants
- A Property Portal requiring landlords to join a national register
Fairer deal for tenants
The government claims the reforms offer private tenants safer, fairer and better quality homes, but opponents fear the bill faces a rocky road in Parliament and point out that even Tory backbenchers feel the measures are weighted too far towards tenants.
However, landlords must wait to see what the bill contains as the responsible minister Michael Gove, the housing secretary, has yet to publish the draft wording.
"Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them," said Gove.
"This Government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a New Deal to those living in the Private Rented Sector, one with quality, affordability, and fairness at its heart.
"Our new laws introduced to Parliament today will support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants while delivering our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 'no-fault' evictions.
"This will ensure that everyone can live somewhere which is decent, safe and secure -- a place they're truly proud to call home."
Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at letting agent trade body Propertymark said:
"Reforms to the private rented sector in England have been long awaited, and the Bill will bring much-needed clarity to letting agents, their landlords and tenants. Propertymark will support the UK Government to ensure the specific details work in practice for those on the ground whilst providing both security and fairness for both parties of the rental agreement. It is also important that implementation is well planned and managed as these reforms are significant for the sector."
If the bill gains Royal Assent to become law, the provisions impact around 4.4 million privately rented homes and just over 2 million landlords.
The Renter's Reform Bill is part of an ongoing campaign to bring more regulation to the private rental sector and the latest battle in the war to drive out criminal landlords.
Previous legislation has seen a ban on charging tenants up-front fees to start or renew a rent agreement and stricter regulation for letting agents.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer broadly supports the new bill but argues that the underlying problem of a lack of suitable housing remains. He advocates setting achievable targets for building new homes - on the green belt if necessary.
"We would make those tough choices and say to local areas, notwithstanding that it's greenbelt, if it's a car park or similar land which doesn't affect the beauty of our countryside, then we'll change the planning rules," he said.
Renter's Reform BIll FAQ
When will the Renter's Reform Bill become law?
It's difficult to say when the Renter's Reform Bill will become law as it only has the first reading. Generally, the bill is expected to become law in Spring 2024.
Does the bill cover Scotland and Wales?
The bill covers England - Scotland, and Wales have their own law-makers who regulate landlords and tenants.
What will replace no-fault evictions?
It's expected the new bill will give landlords a procedure for repossessing property if they want to sell, stop renting out or refurbish homes, only with a longer notice period of four or six months.
Doesn't the new bill dilute landlord rights?
The Renter's Reform Bill gives tenants better security in their rented homes but can only do so at the expense of diluting or removing landlord rights
Will the Renter's Reform Bill outlaw rogue landlords?
Rogue landlords are already working outside the law, and it's doubtful anything contained in the new bill will change much except by increasing the penalties for illegal behaviour and making the enforcement process easier for councils.
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A tenancy of someone's home, starting on or after 28 February 1997, will in most cases be an assured shorthold tenancy. Take advice early if there are any doubts about what type of tenancy is being terminated. The procedures for ending a tenancy are different, depending on the type of tenancy.