The Government has published the first draft of the Renters Reform Bill which has been much anticipated across the Residential Landlord and Tenant Sector for the past 5 years.
The Government’s goal is to improve the system for both the 11 million private renters and 2.3 million landlords in England. Numerous consultations have been carried out and the Government has sought views from industry experts and representatives from both landlords and tenants.
The Bill has only just started its Parliamentary journey and it will undoubtedly undergo revision of terms or amendments and additions. It is likely that further regulations will also be passed with more details included. The Bill is expected to get Royal Assent in Spring 2024 and there will likely be some transitionary periods too.
The White Paper committed to further reforms in relation to applying the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector to drive up industry standards, making it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children. Plus strengthening local councils’ enforcement powers and introduction of a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity. The Government has re-confirmed their commitment to implementing these reforms and we can expect further legislation in due course.
In light of Section 21 being abolished, to rely on the other grounds for possession it will be incredibly important that landlords get quality and timely advice to ensure their claims proceed as swiftly as possible through the court system. Any mistakes with paperwork or lack of evidence to support the grounds for possession could prove very costly and create significant delay.
As it stands the Bill is as expected:
- Section 21 no-fault evictions are to be abolished – Landlords in England will no longer be able to evict tenants using the Section 21 route, all tenancies would need to be terminated due to a permitted reason. The intention is to give tenants more security and confidence to rent in the private rented sector.
- Move to a tenancy structure where all assured tenancies are periodic and fixed-term contracts no longer exist – Tenants will be able to give 2 months’ notice to vacate a property at any time. This causes concern for landlords who rent to students as this could disrupt their annual business model and result in lost income if the property is not ready for the next set of tenants at the start of the academic year. There have been newspaper reports that the Government may backtrack on the reforms for students lets by way of an amendment to the Bill.
- The end of rent review clauses- Landlords will increase rents using Section 13 Notices once annually with a longer notice period.
- Section 8 Grounds under the Housing Act 1988 have been altered- There is a new ground for repeated rent arrears and if a landlord is looking to sell a property. There have been other amendments to the other grounds and a dedicated Section 8 blog will be shared soon.
- Written Statements will need to be provided by Landlords – this is similar to the provisions for Wales under the Renting Homes Wales Act which came into force on 1st December 2022
- Introduce a new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman- designed to settle disputes and free up the court system.
- Create a Privately Rented Property Portal – The portal would look to help landlords understand their legal obligations and demonstrate compliance.
- Tenants will be allowed to keep a pet with their landlord’s consent – Consent is not to be unreasonably withheld however landlords will be allowed to insist that the tenant obtains pet insurance.