Key Changes Proposed by the Renters Reform Bill

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The 2023 King’s Speech on Tuesday reconfirmed the government’s commitment to the Renters (Reform) Bill which promises a ‘once-in-a-generation overhaul of housing laws’.

Renters will benefit from stronger security of tenure and better value, while landlords will benefit from reforms to provide certainty that they can regain their properties when needed.”

King Charles III

The Timetable

New legislation in the UK normally becomes law on either the 1st of April or the 1st of October each year. The Renters Reform Bill was published on 17 May 2023 but the second reading did not take place until 23 October 2024 meaning it is now unlikely to receive Royal Assent until the spring of 2024. The Renters Reform Bill will begin to be implemented at least 6 months after Royal Assent for new tenancies, and 18 months after for tenancies already in place.

Key Changes

The main elements of the bill included measures to:

  1. Abolish the use of ‘no fault’ evictions by removing section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and move to a “simpler tenancy structure”.
  2. Amend and strengthen the grounds on which landlords can seek to repossess properties, for example, in cases of anti-social behaviour and repeated rent arrears.
  3. Introduce a new private rented sector ombudsman.
  4. Create a privately rented property portal to help landlords understand their legal obligations and demonstrate compliance.
  5. Provide stronger protections against “backdoor evictions” by ensuring that tenants can appeal “above-market rents” which were “purely designed to force them out”.
  6. Give tenants the right to request a pet in the property, which landlords “must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse”. In return, landlords would be able to require tenants purchase pet insurance to cover any property damage.

The government will also bring forward legislation as part of the Bill to:

  • Apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time;
  • Make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children;
  • Strengthen councils’ enforcement powers and introduce a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity.

Impact on landlords

For our Landlords, there are no actions you need to take at this time. It will be some time before anything needs to be implemented and there may be several amendments along the way. We will be keeping a close eye on developments and will be providing plenty of guidance and support when the time comes to prepare for these changes.

Section 8

We are optimistic that landlords shouldn’t see a negative impact from the proposed changes. Some elements, such as the strengthened Section 8 eviction grounds, give landlords more rights to gain possession through the courts where there is a legitimate need for them to do so. The introduction of a new dedicated Rental Property Ombudsman and portal could also be of benefit to landlords.