All You Need to Know About the Renters Reform Bill

November 7, 2023 | , ,

Understanding the Renters Reform Bill: Implications for Landlords and Tenants

On the 7th of November 2023, the Renters Reform Bill is set to take centre stage in King Charles’ speech. This proposed legislation holds the potential to reshape the landscape of the UK’s rental market. PM Law, a trusted solicitor’s firm in Sheffield, is committed to supporting both landlords and tenants in navigating this significant legal change.

The Renters Reform Bill will bring in new laws for private landlords that aim to improve housing quality and overall protection for tenants. We’re going to discuss each of these changes and how they will affect landlords and tenants.

What are the Proposed Changes in the Rrents Reform Bill and How Will They Help Renters?

The Renters Reform Bill represents a huge shift in the rights of tenants in the UK. All of the proposals in this piece of legislation have the power and potential to transform renting for the better. We’re going to discuss each of these changes and how they will affect landlords and tenants.

Periodic tenancies: moving from an Assured Tenancies or Assured Shorthold Tenancies to periodic tenancies gives a number of benefits. Periodic tenancies help both parties ‘better understand their rights and responsibilities’, helping give renters more security and flexibility. For example, if a rental property is in poor condition, a periodic tenant allows the renter to move more easily and not be responsible for the remaining rent. More generally, a periodic tenancy means a landlord will only be able to evict a tenant in reasonable circumstances defined in law.

Decent Homes Standard: this part of the legislation aims to improve the quality of private rented housing. It states that that landlords must keep homes free from all health and safety hazards and be kept in a good state of repair. This was initially implemented for council housing but is also now mandatory for the private rental sector. These changes aim to make landlords more likely to manage their properties effectively and be proactive when informed of an issue by the tenant.

Landlords can no longer discriminate against families with children or those on benefits – currently, landlords can refuse a tenancy if the family has children and/or they receive benefits. This would be outlawed under the Renters Reform Bill. Apparently, the government is open to extending this to other vulnerable groups such as prison leavers.

‘No fault’ evictions under section 21 are to be abolished – landlords can currently evict a tenant without reason, but abolishing this rule aims to level the playing field between landlord and tenant. Once this rule no longer applies, landlords will only be able to evict a tenant in reasonable circumstances.

Ombudsman covering all private landlords – a government-approved ombudsman designed to cover all landlords in England will be introduced. The new ombudsman will be able to mediate between landlord and tenant and request apologies where necessary and take remedial action and/or pay compensation up to £25,000.

Landlord register / portal – this part of the legislation is mandatory and designed to give more visibility to tenants. Full details of the landlords’ register are yet to be released, but it’s beneficial to both landlords and tenants. Tenants will be able to see who their landlord is and if their properties meet the necessary legal requirements, and landlords will be able to access details of their legal requirements under the bill.

Tenants to receive more rights to keep pets in rental properties – under this part of the Renters’ Reform Bill, landlords will not be able to unreasonable withhold consent when a tenant asks to have a pet in the property. If the landlord does deny this, then the tenant will be able to challenge the decision if no fair reason is given. Landlords do still have the right to request the tenants have insurance in place in case of any damage to the property.

When Will the Renters Reform Bill Become Law?

The government pledged for the Renters Reform Bill to become law before the next general election after it was announced in 2019. This spring, the government have said the bill will be brought forward at the end of the parliamentary session. The Renters’ Reform Bill has recently been introduced to parliament and could become law by spring 2024. However, some think that these new laws for private landlords could be introduced sooner.

In terms of how the new bill will be applied to tenancies, we understand that the rules will be rolled out in two stages. The new legislation will be applied to existing tenancies first and then, once the Renters’ Reform Bill becomes law, it’s likely that 6 months’ notice will be given of a first implementation date. So, from that date, all new tenancies will abide by the new bill.

Implications and Considerations of the Renters Reform Bill

For Landlords:

  • Enhanced screening of tenants will be essential to ensure compatibility.
  • Planning for longer notice periods when increasing rent will be crucial.
  • Adapting to the new standard of periodic tenancies may require adjustments in property management strategies.
  • Reviewing pet policies to accommodate tenants’ desires for pet ownership while protecting property assets.
  • Being prepared for increased oversight and potential disputes through the new ombudsman.

For Tenants:

  • Enjoying increased stability and security with the removal of ‘no fault’ evictions.
  • Equal opportunity for housing, regardless of income source or family status.
  • Greater flexibility in rental agreements with periodic tenancies as the standard.
  • More time to budget for rent increases with doubled notice periods.
  • Enhanced rights for pet ownership in rental properties.

The Renters Reform Bill, as discussed in King Charles’ speech, has far-reaching implications for both landlords and tenants. PM Law, based in Sheffield, is dedicated to supporting clients in navigating these legal changes and understanding their rights and responsibilities.

This reform aims to strike a balance between the interests of landlords and tenants, fostering a fair and inclusive rental market. As this bill progresses, it is essential for both parties to stay informed, adapt to the new provisions, and seek legal counsel when needed to ensure a smooth transition in the evolving rental landscape.

Providing Trusted Advice on New UK Renting Laws

The PM Law team understand the impact of these new renting laws on both tenants and landlords in the UK. We have years of experience providing dispute resolution services to landlords and tenants and are here to support you while these changes are being implemented.

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Helen Laycock