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What does the UK Government’s Renters Reform Bill mean for landlords and tenants?

Included among the 38 bills announced in the recent Queen’s Speech – which, for the first time, was delivered by Prince Charles following the Queen’s cancellation of her appearance at the State Opening of Parliament – was proposed legislation that will impact on UK tenants and landlords.

The Renters Reform Bill will bring about, in the words of the Government, the “biggest change to renters law in a generation – improving conditions and rights for millions” in private and socially rented housing.
 
This is a bill, then, that not only people seeking out homes to rent, but also those making available their properties for let, need to be aware of. Let’s, then, take you through some of the essentials we know so far.

How has the Government represented the Renters Reform Bill?
 
More information about the Bill can be found in the press release issued by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
There are various eye-catching measures outlined in the announcement, including the outlawing of so-called ‘no-fault’ Section 21 evictions, and the strengthening of landlords’ grounds for repossession. The latter will enable property owners to more easily evict tenants who are wilfully failing to pay rent, or who are responsible for repeated anti-social behaviour.

The Department set out what it described as a “new deal” for the 4.4 million households currently privately renting across England, stating that for the first time, it would extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector.
 
The Decent Homes Standard is a technical standard – introduced by the then-Labour Government in the 2000s – that presently applies specifically to public housing.

In addition, the Government pledged to create a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman, which would allow for the quick and low-cost resolution of landlord-tenant disputes, without the need to go to court. The ombudsman will cover all private landlords making available properties for let, and help ensure that when tenants make a complaint, landlords take steps to address this.
 
What are Section 21 evictions? 

As the law stands right now, landlords are able to ask that a tenant leaves their property by issuing a Section 21 or Section 8 notice. A landlord has the right to issue a Section 8 notice if they already have a reason to evict a tenant – for example, property damage or rent arrears.
 
In the case of Section 21 notices, however, landlords don’t need to give a reason for the eviction – hence why they are often referred to as ‘no-fault’ evictions.

If a tenant is issued with a Section 21 notice, they are currently required to leave the property within two months. Although most landlords expect a tenant to leave within that period, they need to wait until the end of the notice period before they are permitted to apply to the court to begin the eviction process. That process, in turn, can take several more months.
 
What has been the response of key industry players to the plans? 

Praise for the Bill’s proposals for tenants was forthcoming from Generation Rent director Alicia Kennedy, who commented: “Renters have been waiting three years for the Government to abolish these insidious Section 21 evictions. Finally, legislation looks to be on its way.

“It is essential that any new tenancy regime reduces the number of unwanted moves and gives renters the confidence to challenge poor practice by landlords.”
 
Meanwhile, chief executive at the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), Ben Beadle, said: “We welcome the Government’s acceptance that reforms to the rented sector need to strengthen the ability of landlords to tackle anti-social tenants and those with repeated rent arrears.

“Whilst we support proposals for an Ombudsman to cut the number of possession cases needing to go the court, this cannot be a substitute for proper court reform as well. At present, it can take almost a year for a private landlord to repossess a property through the courts where they have a legitimate reason to do so. This is simply not good enough.”

Would you like to have a conversation with our team, whether you are looking to offer your own properties for let or to rent a property, about the potential implications of the Renters Reform Bill for your moves in the private rented sector? If so, you are very welcome to give us a call or send us an email at our Surrey office.