Referred to as one of the most significant pieces of legislation for private renters and landlords in the last 30 years, the Renters Reform Bill proposes numerous changes to current legislation, all designed to reform the Private Rented Sector (PRS).

In June 2022, the government published an initial outline of its plans in a whitepaper, titled “A Fairer Private Rented Sector”. Just under a year later, the majority of the measures proposed were included in the Renters Reform Bill, released in May 2023.

What is the Renters Reform Bill?

The proposed reform strives to improve the rental experience for both tenants and landlords alike. Under current legislation, the government argues that some renters face a lack of security, while respected property owners are being forced to compete with “criminal landlords”.

The Bill aims to support tenants, most notably by scrapping Section 21 “no fault” evictions, making it impossible for landlords to evict tenants without a reasonable circumstance.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the Renters Reform Bill, covering its key provisions and detailing when the legislation is expected to take effect.

Renters Reform Bill Timeline

17th May 2023
First Reading
The name of the Bill was announced in the House of Commons.

23rd October 2023
Second Reading Debate
The Bill was debated in parliament for the first time.

Michael Gove explained its provisions. The opposition were given the chance to respond and other members were free to engage in an open discussion. A motion was carried out with a vote for the Bill to proceed to the Committee Stage.

14th November – 5th December 2023
The Committee Stage
During this stage, the Committee of MP’s will assess the Bill line by line, providing the opportunity for MP’s to vote on suggested changes and new clauses.

At the time this article was published, the Bill was undergoing review in the Committee Stage. To date, the government has outlined amendments to make it illegal for landlords and agents to refuse renting to individuals who receive benefits or have children.

Anticipated progress suggests that the final iteration of the Bill will be debated during the Third Reading in early 2024.

Renters Reform Bill

What’s Included?

Section 21 “No Fault” Eviction Scrapped

Currently, under Section 21, landlords do not need to give a reason for evicting a tenant, or provide any notice. Under the new legislation, landlords will only be able to evict tenants under reasonable circumstances.

This is designed to provide tenants with additional peace of mind, empowering them to challenge unjust treatment.

The government is also implementing new mandatory grounds for eviction for landlord’s who wish to sell their properties or reclaim occupancy.

While the existing law permits a section 8 notice only if a landlord aims to personally reside in the property, the upcoming legislation allows property owners to issue a section 8 notice if either they or their close family members plan to move in. A section 8 can only be served if the tenant has lived in the property for at least six months.

•Rent Increase Notice Period Changed

Rent increases will be limited to once a year.

The minimum notice period landlords must provide will also be increased to two months.

•Tenants Can Request Permission to Keep Pets

Landlords cannot unreasonably refuse tenants the ability to keep pets in their home. The property owner must accept or refuse by the 42nd date of the request. This can be extended by seven days if the landlord requires further information.

Landlord’s can ask tenants to confirm that they have acquired insurance for their pet, or that they are willing to cover the cost of insurance in case of property damage.

•All Assured Shorthold Tenancies Move to a Single System

Assured Shorthold Tenancies, typically spanning six or 12 months, represent the most common type of rental agreements.

According to the Renters Reform Bill, all Assured Shorthold Tenancies will transition to a unified system of periodic tenancies. Under this new agreement, each tenancy will automatically renew on a month-to-month basis, with no set end date.

Renters Reform Bill

•Landlords Must Join a New Ombudsman

Regardless of whether landlords engage with a letting agent, the Renters Reform Bill mandates their enrollment in a government-approved Ombudsman service. This provision ensures that both prospective and existing tenants possess the ability to file complaints against landlords, subject to independent investigation.

The Ombudsman holds the authority to assist tenants in numerous ways, for example by soliciting apologies from landlords and awarding compensation of up to £25,000. Furthermore, they will be able to mandate landlords to reimburse tenants for rent if the property’s standard fails to meet the required benchmarks.

•A New Property Portal Introduced

To assist landlords in comprehending and demonstrating compliance with their legal responsibilities, a new digital property portal is set to be introduced.

Landlords will be legally required to to register their property on the portal. In cases where private landlords fall short of compliance, local authorities will be empowered to take appropriate action.

What Does the Renters Reform Bill Mean For Landlords?

As the enforcement date for the new legislation is projected to be late 2024, landlords are not under immediate pressure to take action.

Nevertheless, it’s advisable that landlords start to proactively assess their existing practices and how these may need to evolve once the Renters Reform Bill comes into effect.

How Will the Renters Reform Bill Affect Me?

At Hancock, we’re dedicated to keeping our clients up-to-date on the latest Rental Reform Bill developments.

If you’d like to find out more about how the new legislation might affect you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our knowledgeable team is ready and waiting to provide you with all the latest details, ensuring you stay informed. Please call us on 01243 531111 today.