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New Details of Renters' Reform Bill

New Details of Renters' Reform Bill

Following years of delay, the Government finally released the proposed Renters' Reform Bill, featuring details of the 'no-fault' eviction ban, restrictions around rent increases, the Decent Homes Standards and more

A pledge of the Conservative party manifesto for the snap election in 2019 and formally announced that December in the Queen's Speech, the intervening pandemic delayed the formal announcement of the plans for over two years. Buy to let landlords and tenants have eagerly awaited details, with considerably speculation circulating in the interim.

What's included in the Renters' Reform Bill?

Section 21 No-Fault Evictions Ban

By far the most contentious reform, the White Paper confirms a ban on section 21 'no fault' evictions. Intended to protect tenants from unfair evictions (such as punishment for complaints about disrepair), the change means landlords will have to give a good reason for ending a tenancy. While the Government want to ensure landlords can regain possession of their properties from anti-social tenants or if they want to sell, landlords fear that it will make the already lengthy process of repossession even more challenging and expensive.

Decent Homes Standards 

Already in place for social housing, the Government plan to extend the Decent Homes Standard to private rental sector (PRS) properties. The standard aims to address the 21% of PRS property deemed not decent to ensure that all tenants have safe, comfortable homes of good quality. You can read more about what's required to meet the Decent Homes Standard here.

Rent Reviews

Tenancy agreements will no longer be able to include rent review clauses. These are set intervals at which landlords can review and change the rent to reflect the broader economic climate. Landlords will need to give twice as much notice of a rent increase (currently one month), giving tenants longer to challenge unjustified increases and prepare financially. Tenants will also be able to claim back rent paid on non-decent homes.

Private Renters' Ombudsman

This service will enable landlords and tenants to settle disputes outside the usual court system. It intends to make the process for these cases quicker and less expensive.

Property Portal

A PRS property database, this portal aims to protect tenants and allow landlords to take recognition for providing quality homes. You can read more about the PRS Property Portal and what it means for landlords here.

Blanket Bans on Tenants

Landlords will no longer be able to ban families with children or those on housing benefits from renting their properties.

Requests for Pets

Landlords will have to consider tenant requests for keeping pets and cannot unreasonably refuse (we're not sure yet what constitutes an unreasonable or reasonable refusal). Permission to keep pets ranked in the top five of tenant priorities when looking for a new home in a recent survey, so it's something many landlords will need to reconsider their policy on.

In response to the White Paper, Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA), said:

"Whilst headline commitments to strengthening possession grounds, speedier court processes and mediation are helpful, the detail to follow must retain the confidence of responsible landlords, as well as improving tenants' rights.

"We will be analysing the Government's plans carefully to ensure they meet this test. A failure to do so will exacerbate the housing crisis at a time when renters are struggling to find the homes they need.

"The eventual legislation needs to recognise that government actions have led to a shortage of supply in the sector at a time of record demand. It is causing landlords to leave the sector and driving up rents when people can least afford it."

For many landlords, the majority of these legislative changes won't be a huge disadvantage. However, we know that the changes to Section 21 concern many of you. There's currently a lot of pressure on private landlords, especially with the upcoming changes to EPC regulations. And yet, you are the cornerstone propping up the housing market by providing affordable homes for those who can't (or don't want to) get on the property ladder. We hope organisations like the NRLA will keep fighting the property investors' corner when it comes to ironing out the new court process. The legislation still needs to move through the stages of Government before being made law, and we will keep you up to date with the progress.

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You can read the Government’s full report here.