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The Renters Reform Bill 2023: Everything You Need to Know

The Renters Reform Bill aims to make the rental sector fairer and protect the rights of tenants and landlords. This article explains everything you need to know about it.

Published 01 April 2022

Author Articles @ EVO

The Renters Reform Bill 2023: Everything You Need to Know

Highlights:

  • The Renters Reform Bill aims to ensure all tenants have access to a safe, secure, quality home.

  • One of the reasons the bill is important is that an increasing proportion of the population rents their home.

  • The bill is likely to become law in early 2024

  • A ban on Section 21 “no fault” evictions is one of the flagship policies. This will stop private landlords from evicting tenants for no good reason. In the second reading of the bill, this was delayed. 

In the UK there are an estimated 4.4 million households in the private rented sector (PRS), housing over 11 million people.

Many people living in these homes are subject to the whims of landlords who can evict them at any time.

And that’s not the only issue facing renters. They must also contend with unfair tenancy agreements, vengeful landlords and stringent rules that stop many people from renting a home.

The Renters Reform Bill aims to make the rental sector fairer and protect the rights of tenants and landlords. This article explains everything you need to know about it.

Summary: What Are the Changes to Renters' Rights?

Here’s an overview of what the Renters Reform Bill covers. We’ll explain each point in detail later in the article. 

  • The ending of ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions.

  • Outlawing blanket bans on renting to families or those who receive benefits.

  • Empowering tenants to report issues without fear of reprisals or penalties. 

  • Only allowing rental increases to occur once a year, and enabling tenants to take their landlord to court to seek rent repayment if their homes are of an unacceptable standard.

  • Doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unreasonable or arbitrary.

  • Landlords are to give two months' notice of any rent changes.

  • Giving all tenants the right to keep a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.

  • All tenants are to be moved onto a system of periodic tenancies, which means they can vacate poor-quality housing and reclaim rent. This also means that the tenancy will only end if the renter wants to end it, or if the landlord has a valid reason defined in law.

  • Giving councils more robust powers to tackle the worst-offending landlords and increasing fines for serious offences.

What Is the Renters Reform Bill?

Referred to as the ‘biggest change to renters’ law in a generation’, the Renters Reform Bill 2022-23 will make the private rented sector fairer for landlords and residents. 

It sets out to ensure that:

  • All tenants have access to a safe, secure, quality home.

  • Tenants can challenge unfair landlord practices without fear of being evicted.

  • Landlords cannot evict tenants unless they have broken the terms of their tenancy agreement or if the landlord goes through a legal procedure to repossess their home.

  • Landlords and tenants are supported by a system that effectively resolves issues.

  • Local authorities and councils have practical tools to crack down on and put an end to poor practice.


When will the Renters Reform Bill become law?

The Renters Reform Bill is expected to become law in 2024. However, this is only an estimate.

The government first proposed these changes in its whitepaper A Fairer Private Rented Sector in June 2022 in June 2022. 

The bill was introduced to Parliament in May 2023. So far it has been through the second reading, committee and report stages. These stages allow MPs to debate and amend the bill.

At the time of writing it is at the report stage. However, there are still several stages that it needs to complete before it is written into law, including:

  • A third and final reading in Parliament.

  • Debate and amendments from the House of Lords.

  • Being given Royal Assent.

If there are further significant amendments or a general election the bill could be delayed. 

If MPs vote to reject it then it may also be delayed. However, this looks unlikely. So far the bill has been widely supported by all parties.

What amendments have been made to the Renters Reform Bill?

So far, two amendments have been made to the bill. They are:

The ban on Section 21 evictions has been delayed

This amendment states that the ban on Section 21 evictions (we’ll explain what this is later in this article) will not be implemented until wider court reforms have been enacted. Ministers say that banning Section 21 will lead to an increase in litigation cases and the court system must be able to process these efficiently. 

However, at the moment there is no deadline for the court reforms to be completed. Critics say that thousands of people will be issued with Section 21 orders during the delay.
  

A new ground for possession will be introduced for student landlords

The Renters Reform Bill proposes banning assured shorthold tenancies and replacing them with rolling monthly tenancies (more on this later too). However, many student landlords raised concerns that residents may refuse to leave, making it difficult for them to take on new students each academic year.

MPs have amended the bill by introducing a new ground for possession that student landlords can use to repossess their properties in certain circumstances. 


Why Is the Renters Reform Bill Being Introduced?

According to the English Housing Survey 2021-22 the number of people who rent their accommodation is increasing, while the number of people taking out new mortgages is decreasing.

This means that in the future, a greater proportion of the population will live in rented accommodation. People will also live in rented accommodation for longer before buying a property. 

At the same time, the housing crisis has been encouraging questionable practices among some landlords because they know they can easily find new tenants. For example, 213,000 people in England were evicted from their homes in 2020 after they made complaints against their landlords.  

Tenants and the organisations who represent them argue that a landlord’s right to evict a resident at short notice has a detrimental effect on the tenant’s wellbeing.

In a 2018 consultation on overcoming barriers to longer tenancies in the private rental sector, many respondents said they felt unable to plan their lives due to their insecurities around housing.

They also said this had a negative impact on their mental health and even their children’s education.

These consultations paved the way for the proposed abolition of Section 21 of the Housing Act of 1988.

This rule allows landlords to evict tenants without providing a reason, even if the tenant didn’t break any aspect of their tenancy agreement.

The Conservative Manifesto for 2019 pledged to make the private rented market fairer for tenants and put an end to these ‘no-fault’ evictions.

The Renters Reform Bill seeks to rebalance the tenant-landlord relationship by setting new rules governing things like:

  • The reasons someone can be evicted

  • Who can be denied a tenancy 

  • The length of tenancy agreements

It will make it easier for good tenants to rent properties and give them security by knowing their tenancy cannot be ended by their landlord on a whim. 

Speaking about the bill in 2022, Housing Secretary Michael Gove said, ‘The reality today is that far too many renters are living in damp, dangerous, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them. 

‘Tenants are often frightened to raise a complaint. If they do, there is no guarantee that they won’t be penalised for it, that their rent won’t shoot up as a result, or that they won’t be hit with a Section 21 notice asking them to leave.’


Renters Reform Bill Breakdown

Here are some of the bill’s main features.

An end to Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions



In the past, landlords have issued Section 21 eviction notices after falling out with a tenant. It is unfair practices like this that the Renters Reform Bill seeks to address.

‘No fault’ evictions can result in homelessness. Before the pandemic, the loss of a tenancy was the leading cause of homelessness. 

The Renters Reform Bill proposes a ban on Section 21 evictions to prevent people from losing their homes. Landlords cannot evict tenants without a legitimate reason.

Removal of Section 21 will ensure that a tenancy will only end if the tenant ends it, or if the landlord has valid grounds for terminating it. 

Strengthening the Section 8 notices

There are reasonable circumstances in which it is legitimate to evict a tenant, such as:

  • Antisocial behaviour like excessive noise, intimidation, or fighting by the tenant.

  • The need to reclaim a property because of wilful damage or neglect by the tenant. 

Under current laws, landlords can evict tenants in these circumstances using a Section 8 eviction.

In the Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper, the government reveals its plans to strengthen Section 8 when it abolishes Section 21.

These changes will make it easier for landlords to regain possession of their properties from antisocial tenants and to sell their property when they wish to.

They will also provide greater security for tenants, while keeping the flexibility that privately rented accommodation offers. 

In reforming Section 8, the UK government aims to strike a balance to protect the tenant’s security and the landlord’s right to manage their property.

Section 8 examples

Under the current law, a Section 8 notice can be served if the landlord wants to move into the property to use it as their private home.

However, this right isn’t currently extended to the landlord’s children or other family members.

A new regulation will be introduced allowing landlords or their close family members to move into a rental property.

However, moving into or selling this property will not be permitted in the first six months of a tenancy.

Assured shorthold tenancies will be scrapped

All tenants will be able to benefit from a system of periodic tenancies, putting an end to fixed-term tenancies. 

Instead, all new tenancies will be rolling monthly tenancies. Tenants must give their landlord at least two months’ notice to end their tenancy. Landlords must give the same notice period for evictions.

This means that tenants can leave poor-quality properties if their housing is deemed unfit to live in. They can also request a repayment of their rent.

The change also grants them the freedom and the right to move more easily when their circumstances change.

Existing shorthold tenancies will be allowed to continue until they expire, or if the landlord and tenant agree to switch to a monthly rolling contract.


Courts will be reformed

To support these changes, the government will introduce wide-ranging court reforms. These will be aimed at areas of the court system that often hold up possession proceedings. 

The reforms will cover:

  • County court bailiff capacity

  • Paper-based processes

  • Advice on court and tribunal processes

  • Prioritisation of cases

It is not known how long these reforms will take.

Easing bans on pets

The landlord must consider all requests to keep a pet and cannot unreasonably refuse them. 

This is because families who rent their home are effectively unable to keep pets. Those who do have pets often struggle to find a new rental property that allows them.  

However, landlords may request that tenants have pet insurance to cover any possible damages. 

They can also deny requests if they have a reasonable reason. For example, if they or another resident has animal allergies. 

Prohibiting bans on renting to families or those who receive benefits

Some landlords put blanket bans on renting to people with children or those who receive benefits. 

However, a court ruling found that this was discriminatory, as it unfairly impacted women and the disabled. 

The Renters Reform Bill will make such bans illegal, making it easier for families and vulnerable people to rent a home. 

Landlords will still be able to run affordability checks and can reject tenancy requests if they think the applicant will be unable to pay.


Changes to rules governing fees and rent increases

The notice period for rental increases and tenant fees will be doubled. This enables tenants to challenge such changes, or gives them a chance to move to another location. The use of rent review clauses will also be ended. 

Landlords will have to comply with the Decent Homes Standard

The proposals outlined in the Renters Reform Bill aim to provide housing that conforms to Decent Homes Standards, and to clamp down on landlords who provide unfit homes.

What is decent housing?

  • Non-decent homes are unsafe and uninhabitable.

  • A decent home is free from harmful health and safety risks such as fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Landlords must attend to problems before they get worse. For example, leaking taps or toilets must be fixed. This benefits landlords, as their tenants are more likely to notify them of issues before they worsen if they know that they can rely on the issue being resolved. 

  • Tenants should have clean facilities in good working order. The landlord must fix or replace these facilities when they break down or reach the end of their lives.

  • Rented homes should be warm and dry, not damp and mouldy or freezing cold in winter.

  • The new rules aim to ensure that responsible landlords can efficiently gain possession of their properties from antisocial tenants and sell them when needed.

A Private Renters Ombudsman will be introduced

A Private Renters Ombudsman will be established to settle disputes between tenants and landlords speedily and at a low cost, without the need to go to court.

They will have the power to provide recourse for tenants in disputes with landlords, including compelling landlords to:

  • Issue apologies

  • Provide requested information

  • Make repairs

  • Pay compensation up to £25,000

  • Reimburse tenants where property service or standards have fallen short

  • Ban landlords from renting property if they fail to comply with the Ombudsman’s requests

A new property portal website will be introduced to provide relevant information to tenants and landlords. It will also give local councils and tenants the information they need to tackle rogue landlords.

What Will the new property portal look like?

The property portal will be available online and will include comprehensive information and guidance on renting in the private rented sector. 

It will provide tenants with information about the property they wish to rent, from a compliance perspective.

There will be monitoring of the portal, and it will receive engagement with representative groups to ensure that it works for everyone.

To help councils take measures against unscrupulous landlords, it is being considered for the portal to incorporate the existing database of rogue landlords and property agents.

Since there are many rules and regulations for landlords to follow, the portal will act as a resource hub for regulatory and compliance information.

The government will look for ways to ensure that messages reach the appropriate group. It will work alongside those who already provide information to landlords and tenants, such as the National Residential Landlords Association. 

Meet the Decent Homes Standard with EVO

The Renters Reform Bill aims to make the private rented sector fairer for tenants and landlords. 

It focuses on three main areas:

  • Fairer rules on tenancies

  • Fairer rules on rent

  • Ensuring good quality homes


The last point is where EVO comes in. 

Our digital platform allows landlords to fully outsource all their repairs and maintenance.

We help you meet the Decent Homes Standard by ensuring all repair requests are performed to a good standard and dealt with quickly and effectively. 

Here’s how it works:

✅Residents request repairs via a mobile phone app.

✅The resident is given three time slots to choose from.

✅The job is automatically assigned to the next available suitably qualified tradesperson.

✅The resident can be at home and let the tradesperson in or leave a key for them at a secure exchange point.

✅The tradesperson is given all the information they need to complete the job.

✅When the job is complete, the tradesperson sends videos and images for sign-off.

✅All work has a 12-month warranty.

 

Contact us today to find out how we can help you provide a better resident experience. 

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