Renters (Reform) Bill
The Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023. This follows the White Paper: A Fairer Private Rented Sector in June 2022. It set out the Government’s intentions to reform the private rent sector and to improve housing quality. It will be the biggest overhaul of the sector for over 30 years.
Aim of the bill
The bill aims to give private tenants better protection against things like
- random rent increases
- protection against sub-standard rental properties
- no fault evictions.
For landlords, it will give them greater powers to evict tenants who are anti-social or who remain in debts.
What the bill covers
The Renters (Reform) Bill covers a broad range of reforms which include:
The end of no fault evictions
Landlords will only be able to evict a tenant in reasonable circumstances, which will be set out in law.
Moving new and existing tenancies from an Assured or Assured Shorthold Tenancy on to periodic tenancy (a rolling tenancy without a fixed end date)
Tenants will have more flexibility to end tenancies where they need to. This can be when landlords are failing to meet their obligations or properties are in poor condition.
Amending section 8 of the Housing Act (1988) to change the notice periods that private landlords must give to tenants before the landlord can begin court proceedings
This includes extending the notice period for rent arrears from two weeks to four weeks. Also reducing the notice period for serious anti-social behaviour from four weeks to two weeks so landlords can make a claim for possession sooner.
A new rule will be introduced for landlords who wish to sell their property and allow them and their family members to move into a rental property
They will not be able to do this in the first six months of a tenancy and will not be able to market or relet the property for three months.
The doubling of notice periods for rent reviews, a landlord’s ability to demand rent in advance, or to increase rent more than once per year will be ended
Landlords will need to provide at least a two month notice period of any change in rent. They must repay overpayments where the lease ends earlier than the period tenants have paid for. Landlords will still be able to increase rent to market price.
Challenge unjustified rent increases
Tenants will be able challenge unjustified rent increases through a first-tier tribunal.
Tenants on benefits or those with children
The bill intends to make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children.
A Decent Homes Standard for private housing, like the one in place for social housing providers will be introduced
Landlords need to ensure homes are
- free from serious health and safety hazards (such as fall and fire risks)
- are warm and dry
- have decent noise insulation
- adequate kitchens and bathrooms
- do not fall into disrepair.
Improving the rights of tenants to have pets in properties
Landlords must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse a tenant’s request to have a pet.
A new digital property portal will be set up to inform landlords and tenants. Landlords will be legally required to register their property on the portal. Local council's will have the power to take enforcement action against those that do not.
The introduction of a Private Renters Ombudsman service covering all private landlords who rent property in England
Whether they use a letting agent with mandatory membership - The ombudsman will have powers to make landlords issue an apology, provide information, take remedial action and/or pay compensation of up to £25,000.
The bill still has to go through Parliament and there may be changes to these clauses before it becomes law.
The Government has issued this Guide to the Renters (Reform) Bill and details of the Bill's progress is on the Parliament website.