Introduction: The rental industry has undergone significant changes with the introduction of the Renters (Reform) Bill in Parliament. While media coverage has mainly focused on the abolition of the “Section 21 – no fault” eviction process, there are several other crucial aspects of the bill that have not received much attention. As responsible landlords, we believe it is essential to keep our tenants informed about the potential implications of this bill on the letting industry. In this blog, we will explore the key highlights of the Renters (Reform) Bill and how it may affect tenants.
Understanding the Renters (Reform) Bill: It’s important to note that the bill is currently in the initial stages and has undergone the first reading in Parliament. We are awaiting the second reading, scheduled for June 5th, 2023. If approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the bill will be enacted later this year.
Implications for Renters: Abolition of Section 21 Notices: The bill has received significant media attention due to the abolition of the “Section 21 – no fault” eviction process. This notice allowed landlords to regain possession of their property after the expiry of a fixed-term Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement without providing a reason. It’s important to clarify that Section 21 notices can still be served until the legislation changes.
Introduction of New Notices: Instead of Section 21 notices, the bill proposes new eviction notices that require landlords to provide grounds for eviction, which must be heard by a judge. This brings the eviction process closer to the current Section 8 notices, where landlords need valid reasons such as rent arrears or anti-social behaviour to seek possession of their property. The bill is expected to introduce additional grounds for eviction to address problematic tenancies, although the specific details have not been communicated yet.
Strengthened Protections against Retaliatory Evictions: The bill aims to enhance protections against retaliatory evictions for tenants who report maintenance issues. While the specifics of this provision are not yet clear, it intends to prevent landlords from evicting tenants after addressing maintenance concerns. The implementation and enforcement of this provision remain uncertain at this stage.
Introduction of a New Ombudsman: The bill mandates that all agents and landlords must be members of a new Ombudsman scheme, which will handle disputes between landlords and tenants. Currently, there are multiple Ombudsman schemes available, but the bill proposes centralization in this area.
Right to Request Pets: The bill may grant tenants the right to request permission to have pets in their rental properties. While details are limited, it’s important to note that this provision is framed as a “right to request” rather than an automatic right to have pets.
Ban on Discrimination: The bill seeks to make it illegal for agents or landlords to impose a blanket ban on renting to tenants receiving benefits or with children. This provision aims to promote fair and inclusive renting practices.
Strengthened Enforcement and Decent Homes Standard: The bill grants new enforcement powers to local councils and introduces a Decent Homes Standard for the private rented sector. These measures aim to improve the quality of rental properties and enhance tenant protections.
Impact on Tenants: For tenants who comply with their tenancy agreements, pay rent promptly, and avoid causing disturbances, the changes brought by the bill may have minimal impact, apart from the dissolution of fixed-term tenancies once the bill becomes law. However, it is likely that landlords may serve Section 21 notices prior to the new legislation taking effect to remove tenants in arrears or engaged in anti-social behaviour. The capacity and efficiency of the court system in handling the increased number of eviction cases under the new rules remain uncertain.
Conclusion: The Renters (Reform) Bill introduces significant changes to the letting industry, with particular emphasis on the abolition of Section 21 notices. While these changes aim to protect tenants and promote fair renting practices, there may be unintended consequences such as potential rent increases. As industry professionals, we are closely monitoring the bill’s progress and will communicate any further updates to our tenants. It is crucial for tenants to stay informed and address any concerns they may have with their landlords or letting agents.
Please note that the bill is still subject to potential amendments before it becomes law. For those interested, the link to the bill is provided below for further reading.