On 17 May 2023, the highly-anticipated Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to the House of Commons.
This follows the Government’s White Paper ‘”A Fairer Private Rented Sector’’ on 16 June 2022.
The Bill sets out pretty much exactly what was promised in the White Paper. We previously reported on the details of the White Paper in July 2022. To see our previous article please click here.
The Bill confers a range of restrictions and regulations upon all aspects of the private rental relationship between landlord and tenant, including methods of selection, eviction and rent increase.
Summary of some of the key provisions
- Inclusive approach – Landlords are encouraged to adopt a broader, more inclusive approach to selection of tenants and will no longer be able to enforce blanket bans on tenants with children or those receiving benefits. The Bill also stands to empower tenants with rights to keep pets at the property, meaning that landlords cannot unreasonably refuse such requests.
- The end of fixed term tenancies – Tenancies can only be periodic and will continue until terminated. This is amongst the most controversial reforms. The rational is to promote greater certainty for tenants wishing to remain in their rented properties long-term.
- The end to no fault evictions – The Bill proposes changes to Section 21, abolishing ‘no-fault eviction’ but outlines several new grounds for possession available to landlords (such as if the landlord wants to sell the property or have a family member occupy it). The Bill may therefore mean that in certain circumstances it will be markedly more difficult for landlords to end tenancies
- Rental increases – The Bill proposes statutory regulation of rent increases which means that the landlord will need to serve a statutory notice in order to increase the rent. Tenants can then challenge any above market rent increases through a tribunal based process.
- Increased transparency – The Bill includes the creation of a private rented sector database. This will hold data in relation to landlords and the properties they let as residential dwellings.
- Less use of the County Courts – The Government wants to take disputes away from the overburdened County Courts. The Bill therefore creates an ombudsman scheme that can deliver binding decisions and landlords are required to join the scheme.
How can we help?
Although the Bill is yet to be subject to much debate and scrutiny as it progresses through Parliament, it is clear that the trajectory is that of more regulation of private landlords. Landlords will need to be proactive and forward thinking in their approach to ensure they are well informed and ahead of the curve as these reforms are finalised and introduced.