The Renters Reform Bill: Update

The Renters Reform Bill: 

Navigating Changes in the Private Rented Sector

Greetings, fellow landlords and tenants! I'm Diane Bialek, and I'm here to shed light on the recently published Renters Reform Bill, which aims to bring significant changes to the private rented sector in England. As the Managing Director of Norman Galloway Sales & Lettings,  author of Diane's Nottinghamshire Property Blog, and a dedicated advocate for fair housing practices, I want to share important insights about the bill and its potential impact. Join me as we delve into the key aspects and consider the implications for both landlords and tenants.

Understanding the Bill's Scope: 

The Renters Reform Bill encompasses a range of proposals that seek to reshape the rental landscape in England. Some of the notable provisions include:

  1. Abolishing Section 21: The bill intends to eliminate Section 21 notices and transition to a tenancy structure where all tenancies become periodic.
  2. Possession Ground Reforms: The proposed reforms aim to modify possession grounds, including mandatory grounds for possession in cases where a landlord intends to sell a property or when there are repeated instances of rent arrears.

  3. Introduction of a Property Ombudsman: A new property ombudsman would be established to address disputes, alleviating pressure on the courts. Private landlords would be required to join this ombudsman scheme.

  4. Digital Property Portal: The implementation of a digital Property Portal is proposed to provide tenants and landlords with better information about their rights and obligations. It would also assist local councils in enforcing regulations.

  5. Statutory Right to Request a Pet: The bill includes a provision granting tenants a statutory right to request permission to keep pets.

Engaging with the Reform Process: The Government has listened to some suggestions made by key players and incorporated some of them such as:

  1. Focusing on Tackling Anti-Social Behavior: There has been a shift in focus toward addressing issues related to anti-social tenants and rent non-payment.

  2. Improving Court Proceedings: The use of digital platforms to expedite court repossession hearings, aiming for a more efficient process.

  3. Enhancing Reporting by Councils: Better reporting by local councils on enforcement actions against rogue and criminal landlords has been acknowledged. 

However, further efforts are necessary to instill confidence in landlords regarding the new system. During the bill's progression, concerns will need to be adequately addressed. This includes matters such as student landlords' ability to offer housing at the start of each academic year, ensuring practical implementation, minimizing disruptions to landlords' businesses, and allocating sufficient resources to prevent court delays.

Assessing the Implications: While it can be accepted that Section 21 repossessions will cease, the current level of detail provided regarding its replacement is disappointing. Landlords require clarity on the timing and procedure for repossessing properties in cases of rent arrears and anti-social behavior. It is vital for responsible landlords to have confidence in the swift and effective resolution of such situations.

To support landlords, we need to see Government develop a comprehensive plan for improving the speed and efficiency of court possession claim processing. While digitization is a positive step, additional staff and resources are necessary to accommodate the demands of these reforms. 

It is crucial for the Government to acknowledge the significant concerns raised by landlords regarding the introduction of open-ended tenancies for students. The inability to plan around the academic year creates uncertainty and may lead to a shortage of available rental properties. It is vital that the Government takes these concerns seriously and seeks suitable solutions to address the needs of both landlords and students.

What's Next? For now, there will be no immediate changes. In the coming months, the Bill will undergo debate in the House of Commons and House of Lords. During these discussions, clauses may be added, amended, or removed to refine the legislation. 

It is important to note that the implementation of these reforms is expected to take around 18 months, with certain elements of the Bill requiring even longer timelines.

In conclusion, the Renters Reform Bill represents a significant milestone in the evolution of the private rented sector in England. It is something that landlords will need to keep a keen eye on over the coming months to ensure that they don't come unstuck further down the line and put themselves at undue risk. 

Find out more - Renters Reform Bill 

Update: Progress on the Renters (Reform) Bill

The UK Government is making headway with the Renters (Reform) Bill, and it has reached the committee stage. However, there's a noteworthy stipulation: Section 21, also known as the 'no fault' eviction clause, will not be abolished until significant improvements are made to the court system. This decision reflects the government's commitment to ensuring that the justice system is better equipped to handle the changes that the reform bill will bring.

Reassurance for Student Landlords

This update has been met with relief by student landlords, a group that faced particular concerns in the initial draft of the bill. The proposed legislation initially aimed to do away with fixed-term tenancies in favour of periodic tenancies across the board. Such a change would have been challenging for student landlords, as it would have left them with uncertainty regarding the return of their properties at the end of the academic year, hindering their ability to re-let to the next batch of students.

To address this issue, the government has pledged to introduce a new ground for possession tailored to the needs of student tenancies. This ground will facilitate the yearly cycle of short-term student leases, giving new students the confidence that they will have accommodation for the following academic year.

Courts and Section 21: A Much-Needed Overhaul

The decision to delay the abolition of Section 21 is prompted by the need for a significant overhaul of the court system. Currently, it takes more than six months, on average, for courts to process a possession claim, even in cases where landlords have legitimate reasons, such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behavior, or when a landlord wishes to sell or move into a property. The cross-party Housing Select Committee has warned that an unreformed court system could undermine the intended tenancy reforms.

The government has underscored that the removal of Section 21 will only occur once substantial progress has been made in enhancing the court system. This approach ensures that reforms to the justice system precede the abolition of Section 21, fostering a more effective and fair legal environment for both tenants and landlords.

Other Announced Changes

The government has made additional commitments as part of this reform, including:

  1. Providing further clarification on the ground for possession related to landlords wanting to sell properties.
  2. Ending blanket bans on renting to families with children and individuals receiving benefits, while emphasising that landlords retain the right to decide on their tenants.
  3. Considering the possibility of the existing housing Ombudsman becoming the Ombudsman for the private rented sector.
  4. Continuing to oppose any forms of rent controls.

What Lies Ahead?

To ensure the passage of this legislation before a General Election, the government will need to expedite its progress. While the bill has received support from the Labour Party, they are advocating for additional amendments to strengthen tenant rights. These proposed adjustments include extending notice periods, limiting advanced rent charges, revising possession grounds, introducing safeguards against 'extortionate' rent increases, and altering the timelines for landlords to re-let properties they have reclaimed for sale or personal use.

The Renters (Reform) Bill is now at the committee stage, where a cross-party committee of MPs will meticulously scrutinise each aspect of the bill, inviting evidence and suggestions from relevant organisations. After gathering evidence, the committee will deliberate and vote on proposed amendments.

In conclusion, while the need for reforms in the private rented sector is evident, it is crucial that these changes prioritise the unity of purpose, ensuring that both tenants and landlords can benefit from a system that fosters sustainable, secure tenancies. The progress of the Renters (Reform) Bill signals a significant step toward achieving this balance.

Diane Bialek - Diane's Nottinghamshire Property Blog

Can't find what you are looking for?

Our helpful team are on hand to answer any queries and concerns you may have.

Get in Touch

This website uses cookies. We use cookies to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic.
You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website. Read our cookie policy. I understand