Guide to the Renters (Reform) Bill

Published by: Fiona Fay, Associate Director

The Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to parliament on 17th May 2023, five years after first being promised.

It is set to be the most significant reform to tenancies in England since 1988 and aims to deliver ‘safer, fairer and higher quality homes’. There are some positive elements but there are also some aspects which will have quite a big impact on our industry and our Landlords.  We therefore just wanted to reach out to share some important information with you and to offer some assurances where we can.

The first thing to remember is that nothing has changed at this stage.  Our governing body ARLA Propertymark have said the following:

‘Measures contained in the Bill will need to overcome the normal legislative hurdles, requiring parliamentary time.  During the progress of the Bill, it will be subject to amendments and your professional body is lobbying to represent the interests of you (member agents) and your clients (you).’
Timothy Douglas, Propertymark’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, says that the proposed legislation on renters’ reforms will introduce significant changes to the private rented sector in England with the measures impacting landlords, tenants and letting agents.

“Propertymark has provided advice and evidence to officials at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to inform the development of the proposals,” he adds.

“We will provide briefings to parliamentarians as they consider the Bill’s contents during its passage through Parliament to ensure the measures are workable and evidence-based.

“The measures will be introduced in stages and as the provisions are passed into law, we will support letting agents to understand the changes to ensure they are implemented successfully.”

The 89 page bill contains most of the expected reforms, the most notable of which are as follows:

  • There will only be periodic assured tenancies with a period not in excess of one month. This means there will be no such thing as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy or a fixed term assured tenancy.
  • Rental increases in line with prevailing market rent can be sought every 12 months but two months’ notice will be required. The tenant can either agree the increase, or apply to the Tribunal for a determination.
  • Abolishment of no-fault evictions. This means that Section 21 notices will be abolished and Landlords can only take back possession of a property by giving notice under certain grounds using a statutory form.  Some of these will be the same as the current grounds under Section 8 but lots of new ones will also be introduced. As these are quite comprehensive, we will cover these in a separate publication.
  • A new Ombudsman scheme will be set up covering all private Landlords.
  • A digital Property Portal is to be set up for private Landlords and Tenants.
  • Compulsory private landlord membership of a redress scheme.
  • Compulsory landlord registration on a Landlord portal.
  • Tenant pet bans are no longer allowed. Tenants can make a request in writing and a Landlord must have a ‘reasonable ground’ to refuse the request.
  • Decent Home Standards will be introduced.

Also there are potential new regulations to address ‘rent to rent’ set ups and evading enforcement, new enforcement bodies and of course the transitional provisions.

It is likely that there may be further amendments and additions to the bill along the way and we will of course update you with further information as we become aware of it.

For now, the main thing to remember is that as it currently stands, nothing has changed.