The Renters Reform Bill, eagerly anticipated by many, was recently unveiled by Housing Secretary Michael Gove, triggering discussions within the industry. This forthcoming legislation promises an array of new measures that will impact the private rented sector in the UK, expected to be enacted either later this year or in early 2024.
Spanning an extensive 89 pages, the document outlines the government's proposals for the industry. While several changes are outlined, three key highlights have garnered significant attention in recent months: the abolition of Section 21 eviction powers, the introduction of a new ombudsman, and revised regulations concerning tenants with pets.
Although many of the Renters Reform Bill's provisions appear to focus on benefiting tenants, Gove emphasizes that responsible landlords should also find the new rules advantageous. He states, "Our new laws introduced to Parliament today will support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants while delivering our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 'no-fault' evictions."
Eviction laws have been a hot topic of debate.
The most contentious aspect of the Renters Reform Bill is the elimination of the Section 21 "no-fault" eviction option for landlords. Currently, this process allows landlords to regain possession of their property swiftly and without providing a reason. The government intends to enhance the powers and scope of Section 8 evictions, which landlords have criticized in the past for being a protracted and challenging process, often leaving them with tenants in significant arrears for months. The Renters Reform Bill aims to streamline this process and make it more efficient.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, commented on this proposed change, stating, "Responsible landlords need to be confident that when Section 21 ends, where they have a legitimate reason, they will be able to repossess their properties as quickly as possible. Without this assurance, the Bill will only exacerbate the rental housing supply crisis many tenants now face. While we welcome the Government's pledge to ensure landlords can effectively recover properties from anti-social tenants and those failing to pay rent, more detail is needed if the Bill is going to work as intended. We will continue to work with the Government, MPs, and Peers to ensure the Bill is workable and fair to both responsible landlords and tenants."
The Renters Reform Bill also includes other noteworthy provisions.
To enhance transparency and communication within the private rented sector, the bill proposes the establishment of an ombudsman who will facilitate the resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants. Although several housing ombudsman services already exist, this proposal aims to create a dedicated ombudsman specifically for matters between landlords and tenants. Its objective is to raise overall industry standards by addressing cases where landlords fall below the expected norms and eliminating unscrupulous landlords.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, welcomed this development, stating, "We have long needed a statutory single private rental Ombudsman – so I'm pleased to see it in the legislative plans. After all, disputes are often between two individuals – landlord and tenant – rather than between companies, so it can be very personal and difficult to sort. Crucially, it won't be voluntary; all private landlords will be required to join the Ombudsman, and it will have legal authority to compel apologies, take remedial action, and award compensation."
Additionally, the Renters Reform Bill addresses the issue of landlords imposing blanket bans on pets, granting all tenants the right to request pet accommodation. This provision aims to reduce the number of animals separated from their owners due to the difficulty of finding pet-friendly rental properties.
Michael Webb, head of Policy & Public Affairs at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home, commented, "Tenants being unable to find anywhere to rent with their pet