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What changes does the Bill set out?

The Renters Reform Bill sets out a variety of changes, which include:

Scrapping ‘no-fault’ evictions

The Bill includes a pledge to outlaw so-called ‘no-fault’ section 21 notice evictions. 

Currently, landlords can evict tenants without needing to provide a reason to do so, provided the eviction notice used is not given to a tenant within the first 4 months of their tenancy.

It is hoped that, by scrapping section 21 evictions, tenants will be able to remain in their homes (and communities) and continue to support the local economies with more stability. As moving is expensive (a 2021 study shows that moving costs an estimated £1,709), it is also hoped that this will help save households money.

Reforming grounds for possession

Under the Bill, the section 8 lawful grounds for possession will be changed (ie landlords may rely on additional justifications to evict a tenant). For example, the Bill is expected to introduce new eviction grounds for persistent rent arrears and the sale of the property. This will enable landlords to more effectively evict tenants and gain possession of their properties when necessary.

It is also proposed that the existing notice periods for criminal behaviour or serious anti-social behaviour will be lowered. 

Other changes

Other changes to private residential property law include:

  • making it easier for tenants to own pets in rented homes. Tenants will gain the right to request a pet in their house. Landlords will need to consider such requests and cannot unreasonably refuse

  • ending the use of arbitrary rent review clauses. Landlords will only be able to increase the rent once per year, providing double the current notice, and tenants will be able to challenge excessive rent increases through the First-Tier Tribunal

  • moving all tenants onto periodic tenancies. This will enable tenants to move if their circumstances change or the accommodation quality is poor.

  • creating a Private Renters’ Ombudsman. Landlords and tenants can resolve disputes without the need to go to court – saving both money and time

  • creating a property portal. This is designed to help landlords understand their obligations as landlords, provide tenants with information about their rights and help councils prevent poor practices

  • outlawing ‘No DSS’ bans. Landlords will no longer be able to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those receiving benefits. The government also plans to look into supporting other vulnerable groups that struggle to find private rental accommodation (eg prison leavers)

When can these changes be expected?

The Renters’ Reform Bill is currently making its way through Parliament. As it is still in the early stages there is no clear date for when the changes are likely to come into effect. 

What other changes are on the horizon?

Although it’s not been included in the Renters Reform Bill, it’s been proposed that the Decent Homes Standard, which currently only applies to social housing, is extended to cover the private residential sector. This means that: 

  • privately rented property will need to be free from serious health and safety hazards

  • private landlords will need to keep homes in good condition to ensure renters have clean, appropriate and useable facilities

This move is set to work alongside the current rules (eg fitness for human habitation rules, the minimum energy efficiency standard and the need to provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors) to further improve the standards of rental accommodation.

What does the Bill mean for me?

The Renters Reform Bill is expected to bring about many changes for tenants and landlords alike. While the exact extent of these changes is not yet known, landlords can expect there to be wide-sweeping changes to eviction practices that will affect how they can regain possession of rented properties. Tenants, on the other hand, can expect to benefit from greater protection from evictions, from below-standard homes, and from arbitrary rent increases.

All in all, many changes are on the horizon, drastically changing how landlords let out properties to tenants. Anyone who rents or rents out property should make sure to keep an eye on the progress of the Renters Reform Bill.

For more information, read the government’s guidance. Remember to Ask a lawyer if you have any questions or concerns.

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