Publication of the Renters (Reform) Bill

The ‘landmark’ Renters (Reform) Bill has now been introduced to Parliament, following the proposals set out by the government in its June 2022 white paper. The published Bill may well change, but it is interesting to see what has made it in so far.

What’s in?

Abolishing section 21 notices: The Bill confirms the government’s intention to abolish section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. All tenancies will no longer be for a fixed term and will be open ended (or ‘periodic’), with tenants needing to give two months’ notice to leave.

Landlord possession grounds: Landlords will only be able to evict tenants in ‘reasonable circumstances’, which includes cases

  1. Where the landlord wishes to sell (provided the tenancy has existed for 6 months)
  2. Where the landlord (or close family members) wish to move into the rental property (again provided the tenancy has existed for 6 months)
  3. Where there are repeated serious arrears (at least two months' rent arrears on three occasions within a three-year period)
  4. Of antisocial behaviour. It will be a summary offence if a landlord serves notice relying on a ground they know they are not entitled to (or are reckless as to their entitlement)

Pets: Tenants are given a statutory right to request permission to keep a pet in their home, which the landlord must consider and not unreasonably refuse. Landlords can require pet insurance to be put in place.

A new Ombudsman and digital Property Portal: The Bill lays the way for setting up a new Ombudsman to provide quicker and cheaper resolutions to disputes, and also a Private Rented Sector Database to support the new digital Property Portal service. Landlords will have to register all properties they let out.

Rent increases: Landlords will be able to raise rents annually to market prices and must provide two months’ notice of any change. Tenants will be able to challenge above-market rent increases through the First-tier Tribunal.

What’s not in (yet)?

Decent Homes Standard which is intended to provide renters with safer, higher quality homes and remove the blight of poor-quality homes in local communities. The government launched a consultation on this subject in September 2022, and says it will respond to this in due course.

A ban on ‘No DSS’ practice to make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children.

Timings for implementation as these are dealt with through regulations, but it sets out the framework which could follow previous proposals, which first apply the new rules to new tenancies, giving landlords 6 months’ notice (after enactment), before all existing assured tenancies transition to the new system, giving at least 18 months’ notice (after enactment).

Please see the proposals set out by the government in its June 2022 white paper here.

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