It was Theresa May’s government that first mentioned the Renters Reform Bill back in 2019. The law was announced as a bill that would grant more rights for tenants and landlords alike. The Communities Secretary, MP James Brokenshire, praised it as “the biggest change to the private rental sector for a generation.”
It’s unclear when the Renters Reform Bill will be put into action. But it is expected to happen some time in 2024.
Why the Renters Reform Bill?
The Renters Reform Bill is a law being put in place to put fairer standards into the private rented sector. The government say that current legislation has left some renters with a lack of security. This has been especially true with instances of ‘no fault’ evictions.
Section 21 no fault evictions currently allow for the eviction of tenants without any reason needing to be given and with only two months notice. Alongside this, landlords are struggling by being undercut by a small number of criminal landlords.
The Renters Reform white paper is expected to create increased confidence for renters and landlords both. As renting increases in popularity, with one in five homes in private renting as of 2023, the bill could relax concerns for each party involved.
Some key changes the Renters Reform Bill will bring are:
1. No 'no-fault' evictions
As mentioned before, ‘no fault’ evictions will be banned as soon as the Renters Reform Bill is put into effect. Landlords will not be able to evict tenants without a plausible reason. Renters could instead be given a two-week notice period for anti-social behaviour evictions. Behaviour that could potentially cause ‘nuisance or annoyance’ could also trigger eviction.
A lack of evictions without cause should dramatically improve renter confidence, but without having to sacrifice the trust of landlords. This doesn’t mean that anti-social behaviour won’t be reason enough for eviction. Landlords will simply have to outline an appropriate reason for evictions.
2. New compulsory ombudsman
This ombudsman will be able to make a judgement over disputes between tenants and landlords. Among other things, these disputes could be related to rent rises, pets, or issues surrounding facilities.
By making a private rented sector ombudsman compulsory, conflicts between landlords and tenants can have a more assured resolution. If a landlord doesn't work to rectify a concern with the property, an impartial party can now be guaranteed to assess the issue. After this, they can make a judgement without bias. This will give tenants extra faith that their property will be up to standard.
3. The end of blanket bans
Blanket bans on renting will be stopped as soon as the law is implemented. Letting agents and landlords will no longer have the power to vet renters based off their situation. It will be illegal to ban families with children or renters in receipt of benefits from renting a property.
Considering that 30% of households in the private rented sector are home to dependent children, landlords will be given a broader range of potential tenants.
4. Pet leniency
Landlords will not have the power to refuse tenant’s from keeping pets in the rented property without a reasonable cause. To compromise, renters can be asked to take out insurance against any damage caused to the home by a pet.
Though this change may make some landlords nervous, it could actually be beneficial for both parties. With renters having more scope for their property search, landlords’ properties will be more likely to be taken up by pet owners. They will also have the security of insured repairs should the pet cause any damage to the home.
5. The landlord’s register
A local council-run body will be created to register landlords’ properties. The idea is that this body will ensure that any action can be taken should a property not reach appropriate standards. Perhaps the home is in disrepair, is overcrowded, or is lacking the correct licenses.
Potential tenants will be able to access a portal before choosing to rent a property. Based off the history of the landlord and property, renters can make an informed decision about if they should rent a particular property or not.
A body that assesses property quality could raise the standard of rented homes in the UK.
6. Improvement of standards
A Decent Homes Standard will have to be met by rental properties. It’s already currently applied to council and housing associations and is now being extended. This will greatly impact the lives of renters, allowing them to feel more secure that their property is meeting strict standards to allow for a higher quality of living.
Finally, there will be strong enforcement against landlords and tenants alike. The government has pledged to reform court processes against anti-social renters and rogue landlords.
Local councils will have to report the number of landlords they have taken action against, as well as the success rate. With a proper course of action in place to manage these people involved in the private rental sector, landlords and tenants can feel more secure in their own exchanges.