Buy-to-letMay 17 2023

Govt introduces renters reform bill to parliament

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Govt introduces renters reform bill to parliament
Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, addresses delegates during the second day of the National Conservatism conference yesterday (May 16) in London (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The long awaited renters’ reform bill, which will ban ‘no fault’ evictions, has been introduced to parliament after multiple delays.

Once passed, the piece of legislation, first promised in the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto, will give greater protections to the UK’s 11mn private renters. 

Commenting on the bill today (May 17), housing secretary Michael Gove said it will "support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants".

“Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them.

“This government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a new deal to those living in the private rented sector; one with quality, affordability, and fairness at its heart."

Gove added: “This will ensure that everyone can live somewhere which is decent, safe and secure – a place they’re truly proud to call home.”

What is proposed? 

No fault evictions banned

Once enacted, the main change for renters will be the abolition of ‘no fault’ evictions. 

Instead, a landlord will only legally be able to recover a property where they plan to sell it, move a close family member in, or in situations where tenants “wilfully do not pay rent”. 

Notice periods will also be shortened where tenants have been irresponsible, for example breaching their tenancy agreement or causing damage to the property. 

Court reform

In order to speed up eviction cases that do end up in the court system, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities has said elements of the existing process will be digitised.

Creation of Ombudsman and Property Portal

A new ombudsman office will be established in order to provide quicker and cheaper resolutions to disputes between landlords and renters. 

This will be alongside a new digital property portal which aims to help landlords understand their obligations and help tenants make better decisions when signing a new tenancy agreement. 

The DLUHC has said this will help “give confidence to good landlords, while driving the criminal minority out of business”.

Pets allowed

Renters will also be given the legal right to request to house a pet in their home, which landlords must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. 

As part of this, landlords will be able to require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property. 

Minimum standard of housing

As part of the bill, the government also plans to apply the ‘decent homes standard’ to the private rented sector. 

In the past, this standard only applied to landlords who own social housing. 

The DLUHC has said that this change will help deliver its commitment to halve the number of “non-decent” homes in the rental market by 2030. 

Tenants on benefits

The bill will also make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or who have children. 

More power for councils

Finally, the bill proposes to strengthen the enforcement powers councils currently have on rental matters and will introduce a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement. 

Reaction to the bill

Although response to the bill has largely been positive from renters' representatives, landlord organisations and property experts, some concerns remain. 

In a statement released today, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said it is worried that any changes may negatively impact the supply and cost of rental accommodation in the UK.

As a result of this, it said the reforms must be "delivered in such a way that gives confidence to landlords and does not result in them leaving the sector, further exacerbating the challenges for tenants who are already struggling to find quality affordable homes".

Last week, the National Residential Landlords Association warned that the supply crisis in the rental market is "about to deepen", with the organisation pointing to recent research that showed a record number of landords plan to sell as a result of rising interest rates. 

However, commenting on the renters reform bill today, NRLA chief executive, Ben Beadle said he welcomes the reforms and the government's pledge to ensure landlords can swiftly recover property from anti-social tenants and those failing to pay rent.