Renters Reform Bill is Published – Big Changes for Landlords & Tenants
The highly anticipated Renter’s Reform Bill has finally been published. The legislation has been pending since 2019 and is claimed to protect both landlords and tenants in the private rental sector. The bill is set to be passed through parliament before any changes come into effect.
We’ve rounded up some of the key points of the bill below.
End of fixed-term tenancies
Tenancy contracts will continue to an indefinite period, allowing tenants to stay in their home until they decide to end the tenancy, with a 2 month notice. If landlords wish to evict their tenants, they will only be able to serve notice under specific Section 8 grounds. Landlords will not be able to use grounds for moving in, selling or re-development within the first 6 months of the tenancy.
End of No-Fault Evictions (Section 21)
No-fault evictions (also known as Section 21), will be coming to an end in support of tenants who have to deal with difficult landlords. The abolishment of Section 21 is ‘aiming to provide more security for tenants and empower them to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without fear of eviction’.
Currently Section 21 is still valid until the bill passes through Parliament.
Improved grounds for possession (section 8)
There will be specific circumstances where landlords are able to end their tenancy, including scenarios of anti-social behaviour, repeat rent arrears and landlords selling up or moving in family.
Landlords will have stronger powers to evict anti-social tenants, as the activities classed as disruptive or harmful have been broadened. In support of landlords, the Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan was proposed in March this year, setting out the principles that judges must consider when making their decision.
Evictions will be mandatory where a tenant has been in at least two month’s rent arrears, at least 3 times within the previous 3 years – this is regardless of the arrears balance at hearing. This bill also ensures tenants with longstanding tenancies are not evicted due to one-off financial difficulties.
Landlords will be able to raise rents annually to market prices by giving two month’s notice of any change. This will be done via one mechanism, requiring a landlord to complete a form due to be published on the Gov.UK website. The landlord will then serve this to their tenant.
Tenants will be able to challenge the rent increase if they believe it is above market, through the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), - this seeks to prevent above-market rent increases being used to force tenants to vacate a property.
Renting with Pets
With the increase of furry friends as company, tenants will get the legal right to have a pet in their rented home and landlords cannot refuse the request unreasonably. To protect their properties, landlords are able to request pet insurance, with the tenant liable to court proceedings if the insurance and deposit do not cover the cost of any damage.
The Government will make it a legal requirement for all landlords to join a redress scheme. Landlords who use an agent to manage their property will still be required to join the scheme as they will still retain legal obligations to tenants – particularly around standards and repairs.
Landlords will get a new digital Property Portal to understand their obligations and help tenants make better decisions when signing a new tenancy agreement. However, only tenants will be able to complain to the Ombudsman. The government says: “While not offering redress for landlords, we are exploring the possibility for the Ombudsman to offer mediation services to landlords to help them resolve their disputes with tenants.”
Private Rented Sector Database
All rented properties will need to be uploaded to a digital portals which will include uploading required compliance documents such as GSI’s, EICRS, EPC’S. etc.
It will also enable local authority enforcement teams to check property to ensure they are compliant, track down rogue landlords quicker and upload issues that are effecting the property such as enforcement notices issued.
End to tenant benefit discrimination
Under the new bill, it will be illegal for landlords to refuse to rent their properties to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children.
Council Enforcement Powers
The Renters’ Reform Bill will also strengthen councils’ enforcement powers by introducing a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity – to help target criminal landlords.
Apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time
It will be a requirement for all properties to meet decent home standards which includes items such as a maximum age of kitchen or bathroom, or to provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort. More information can be found here.
The full Renter's Reform Bill has now been published and can be viewed here