What is the renters’ reform bill and how does it affect you?

  • london
  • May 18, 2023
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The Renters’ (Reform) Bill was introduced to parliament on May 17 in a bid by the government to address problems in the private rental housing market, in a move it describes as a ‘once-in-a-generation overhaul of housing laws.’

The bill has been met with mixed reception, with some claiming it is ‘anti-landlord’, but has now reached its second reading in the House of Commons.

However, Michael Gove MP, Housing Secretary, has said: ‘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.

‘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.’

The bill’s introduction could affect up to 11 million renters in the UK.

So what does the bill contain, and how might it affect you?

Here is what you need to know

What is in the renters’ reform bill?

The Renters’ (Reform) Bill was, in part, based on a 2019 Conservative Manifesto pledge to abolish the infamous section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.

The renters’ reform bill

Some of the bill’s fundamental changes are:

  • Abolish section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and move to a more straightforward tenancy structure (based on time period).
  • Apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector.
  • Introduce a new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman.
  • Ban landlords and agents from refusing to rent to tenants because they receive benefits or are with children.
  • Create more extensive possession grounds so landlords can still recover their property.
  • Produce a Privately Rented Property Portal.
  • Give tenants the right to request a pet in the property.
  • Bolster councils’ enforcement powers and introduce a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity.

Source: Gov.uk

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has also said: ‘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.’

In turn, Labour has proposed what it calls a ‘Renters’ Charter,’ which also promises the abolition of ‘no fault’ evictions, a 4-month notice period, a national register of landlords, and other additional rights for tenants.

How might the renters’ reform bill affect you?

The new bill that is being introduced will have a significant impact on both renters and landlords in the private rental market, so it’s essential to be aware of the changes if you fall into either category.

David Breare, director of Canonbury Management, has commented on the bill’s impact on renters and landlords.

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More access to housing as a renter

Blanket bans against renting to families that receive benefits, have children, or own pets, will now be made illegal.

This means that anyone in that situation and looking to rent will have more access to the housing market and a greater selection of housing to choose from.

David Breare has said: ‘The bill has introduced a Decent Homes Standard, meaning all properties must adequately meet a minimum standard regarding their condition and state of repair.

‘In addition, tenants will be able to challenge landlords that fail to do this, meaning tenants have greater power over the condition of properties they rent.’

Higher standards of housing

Applying the Decent Homes Standard to the private rental market should increase the quality of housing that’s available and is designed to deliver on the government’s ‘Levelling Up mission’ to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030.

Increased social mobility

As part of the bill, landlords will be unable to raise rent more than once a year and, should they choose to do so, the notice period will increase from one month to two months.

This means renters should be able to take greater control of their finances and have more time to seek alternative accommodation should their current home become unaffordable.

More property information available to tenants

Landlords will have to provide renters with more information about the property they live in, including an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating and the rental history.

Mr Breare has said: ‘Tenants will then be able to decide on the property with more clarity, assessing how much bills could be before moving in and if the landlord regularly increases rent.’

Increased rental costs

To meet the Decent Homes Standard, landlords may have to increase rents. Additional costs may also have to be factored in to accommodate the new rules around pets, as landlords may request that owners have pet insurance.

Less flexibility for landlords

The new regulations will mean landlords will have less control over who they can and cannot rent to.

Mr Breare added: ‘While illegal, the former blanket bans were utilised by landlords to reject any tenants they deemed unsuitable.

‘As such, it will now be much harder for landlords to not only reject tenants but to deny their requests, such as allowing pets on the property.

‘Similarly, the outlawing of no-fault evictions means it will be harder for landlords to remove tenants, meaning their flexibility regarding property management will be reduced.’

Reduced housing stock

Any landlords who are staunchly opposed to the new bill may choose to sell their property rather than rent it out. If this happens on a broad scale, it could have implications for the market as a whole.

MORE : Rent ‘should be lowered for women in London to close the gender housing gap’

MORE : Renting: Eight expert tips to save money as renters face rising prices

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