The Renters Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023 and, if it passes as drafted, the Bill will represent a “once-in-a-generation” shake-up of the private rental sector. The full Bill can be read at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guide-to-the-renters-reform-bill
The purpose of the Bill is to provide greater stability for tenants and improve the quality of housing compliance and management, whilst supporting the rights of compliant landlords. As anticipated, the headline provision is the abolition of S21 ‘no fault evictions,’ although the entirety of the proposed changes are far broader. Whilst the Housing Secretary, Michael Gove hopes to see the Bill implemented ‘as quickly as possible’, a multitude of stages are required before the granting of Royal Assent, and it is likely to be 18 months before any significant reforms come into effect for new tenancies.
According to Michael Gove, Housing Secretary “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”
Key provisions include:
- S21 – no fault evictions – to be abolished
- All tenancies to move to periodic
- New mandatory S8 possession grounds for repeated rent arrears / anti-social behaviour
- S8 possession grounds on sale or when allowing a family member to reside at the property
- Rent reviews limited to one per year on two months notice
- Stronger powers against retaliatory evictions
- New mandatory Private Sector Ombudsman to reduce pressure on court system
- Legal obligation for landlords to register their property on a digital property portal
- Statutory right for tenants to have a pet and new rules regarding pet insurance
While there has been extensive media coverage that the Bill, as drafted, imposes unreasonable conditions and obligations on landlords, in our opinion the proposals are relatively balanced and support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality and compliant homes to tenants.
Aspire Residential’s perspective is that;
- The abolition of S21 evictions is the headline, however given the increased restrictions on serving section 21 "no fault" notices in recent years, this particular proposal is not as revolutionary as many advocate.
- The abolition of S21 evictions is countered by enhanced S8 provisions, specifically concerning rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.
- Rules relating to pets being permitted gives rise to an amendment to the Tenant Fees Act 2019 and allows landlords to require specialist insurance.
- It is unclear how the new ombudsman will interact alongside the current court system. We suspect it will take many years for both to operate as intended, but we support the underlying intention.
- To be successful, as noted by the British Property Federation, the proposed reforms must be accompanied with "essential court reform… as the reforms set out in the bill will mean that all good reasons for landlords wanting their property back will now have to go to court." The Bill will certainly receive a warmer reception from landlords if it goes hand in hand with true reform of the court process.