The Renters Reform Bill

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The Renters Reform Bill

On 16th June 2022, the Department for Levelling up put forward their plans for a 'fairer private rented sector' in the form of a white paper, which you can read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-fairer-private-rented-sector. The Renters Reform Bill sets out the government's long-term vision and is set to shake up the rental market like never before, aimed at regulating landlords and granting further safeguards to tenants. The legislation is expected to be introduced before the next parliamentary session (Autumn 2023).

So, just what can we expect as part of The Renters Reform Bill?

1. Removal of Section 21 'no fault' evictions

At present, a Section 21 notice can be served at any time during a periodic (rolling) tenancy. This will be removed entirely, meaning landlords will only be able to evict a tenant under reasonable circumstances. Section 8 notices, which require the landlord provide and prove their reasoning for evicting their tenant, will remain but will be reformed. A new mandatory ground for repeated serious rent arrears will be added, making eviction mandatory when a tenant has been in at least two months' rent arrears three times within the previous three years, regardless of the arrears balance at the time of the possession hearing. A second new ground has also been proposed for landlords who wish to sell their property and for those who want to move back into the property or allow family members to move into it.

2. Periodic tenancies will become standard

Currently there are two main tenancy types, assured tenancies and assured shorthold tenancies, the latter being the more common. The proposed changes will move all tenants onto a single system of periodic tenancies. Tenants will then need to provide two months' notice when ending the tenancy, which the government hope will "ensure landlords can recoup the costs of finding a tenant and avoid lengthy void periods".

The white paper suggests the changes to periodic tenancies will be done in two stages, with six months' notice provided before changes are implemented and new tenancies being the first affected, all tenancies following after.

3. Rent increase notice periods will be doubled

The minimum notice period a landlord will be required to give when increasing the rent will be two months. Plans to end the use of rent review clauses are also included within the bill.

4. Tenants will be given more rights to keep pets

The government plans to ensure landlords cannot unreasonably withhold consent for their tenant to keep a pet in the property, the tenant will have the right to challenge any refusals. Amendments are to be made to the Tenant Fees Act 2019, allowing landlords to insist their tenant takes out pet insurance, meaning any damage to their property should be covered. 

5. A blanket ban on landlords refusing tenants with children and those in receipt of benefits

It will become illegal for landlords and letting agents to ban families with children and tenants in receipt of benefits, 'NO DSS' can no longer be featured in property adverts. The paper also states the government will "explore if similar action is needed for other vulnerable groups, such as prison leavers".

6. A private landlord ombudsman

Currently, The Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme are the two bodies regulating property agents in the UK. The paper sets out plans for a single government-approved ombudsman covering all private landlords who let their property in England - whether they use a letting agent or not. Membership to the scheme will be mandatory. Much like the powers of the TPO and PRS, the ombudsman will be able to compel landlords to issue a formal apology, take remedial action or pay compensation up to £25,000.

7. A new Property Portal for private landlords and tenants

The portal will be introduced to "provide a single 'front door' to help landlords understand and demonstrate compliance with their legal requirements". At this stage the full nature of the portal is yet to be revealed, but it intends to ensure tenants have a clear picture of the property they are renting before they commit. It will also allow local authorities to ensure compliance is fully observed by landlords and hand out banning orders to those in breach.

8. Introduction of minimum housing standards

The application of the Decent Homes Standard, which currently only applies to the social housing sector, will be widened. The Decent Homes Standard states that homes must be free from serious health ans safety hazards and landlords must keep homes in a good state of repair, ensuring rents have clean, appropriate and useable facilities. There is also intention to expand Rent Repayment Orders in an attempt to cover repayments for non-decent homes. Periodic tenancies will enable tenants to terminate their tenancy without remaining liable for rent in unsafe accommodation.

Now, more than ever, having an expert letting agent to guide you through the process is essential. If you wish to discuss the proposed changes, or have any other property related questions, contact our Lettings Manager Jake at [email protected] or call our office on 01924 609811.

*This blog is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice*.

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