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Publish date

19 May 2023

The Renters (Reform) Bill: great shake up or damp squib?

A mere five years from first being promised in the Government’s white paper, it is finally here. The Renters (Reform) Bill started its parliamentary journey this week (17 May 2023). As currently drafted, it looks to be the greatest shake up to English tenancy laws since 1988. There may well be amendments and additions on its passage, but the Government’s key rhetoric on the abolition of ‘no fault’ tenancies looks to remain front and centre.

What changes does the renters reform bill bring?

The Government’s stated objective is to move things towards creating a fairer rental sector and improving living conditions for tenants through what it trumpets as a “once in a generation overhaul”.

The six most significant reforms are:

  1. Abolishing no fault evictions
  2. Reform to the Section 8 grounds for possession
  3. Periodic tenancies to become the norm
  4. Limitations on landlord ability to raise rents
  5. Landlords no longer being able to unreasonably refuse tenancies to those on benefits, or with pets
  6. A new Ombudsman.

As well as setting out to protect tenants, the Bill also appears to offer something of an olive branch to landlords, making it easier for them to recover properties so they can sell up if they want to, or to retake possession so that the landlord or a close family member can take up occupation themselves.

The Bill involves replacing Section 21 with a bolstered Section 8 which still provides landlords with a means to regain possession of their properties.

What will the private renters ombudsman do?

The introduction of a private renter’s ombudsman is expected to reduce the costs associated with disputes between tenants and landlords, while a new property portal is intended to provide greater clarity regarding compliance.

All of the above is of course dependent on the Bill working its way through both Houses of Parliament, surviving scrutiny from committees and the Lords.

There is also the looming general election and if the provisions fail to become law by the end of the present Parliament then the Bill will fail and the process will either need to be started again or the sitting Government will need to reintroduce its own version of the Bill.

Add to the mix talk of finally building on green belt land, and the property market seems to be becoming a political battle ground.

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