11:15 AM, 24th May 2023, About 4 months ago 68
Not sure what’s in the Renters’ Reform Bill? We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the long-awaited bill below and will continue to keep updating the guide as we get more clarification.
The government claim the reforms will help 11 million tenants across England benefit from “safer, fairer and higher quality homes thanks to a once-in-a-generation overhaul of housing laws.”
The new bill also claims it will ‘protect’ more than two million landlords by making it easier for them to recover properties when they need to – so they can sell their property if they want to, move in with a close family member, or when tenants wilfully do not pay rent.
The Bill has now been published and can be viewed here
Since the bill has been published the government have offered some more clarification regarding pets.
The Renters Reform Bill says landlords will be required to fully consider all requests on a case-by-case basis.
A landlord must give or refuse consent in writing on or before the 42nd day after the date of the request, although there are some exceptions detailed in the Bill.
The bill also gives some clarification in which a landlord may refuse consent for pets in a property.
“The circumstances in which it is reasonable for a landlord to refuse consent include those in which— (A) The pet being kept at the dwelling-house would cause the landlord to be in breach of an agreement with a superior landlord;
(B) “An agreement between the landlord and a superior landlord prohibits the keeping of a pet at the dwelling-house without
consent of the superior landlord, and the landlord has taken reasonable steps to obtain that consent but the superior landlord
has not given it.”
More detail can be found here on page 8 – Right to request permission to keep a pet
In what appears to be a U-turn Michael Gove is considering a bill amendment to prevent damage to landlords of student lets, according to the Telegraph.
Under the proposed Renters’ Reform Bill, fixed-term tenancies would be banned, and periodic tenancies would be introduced across the private rental sector.
Under periodic tenancies student landlords will have no guarantees that students will move out at the end of the academic year.
It will be impossible for landlords to market their properties for the following year, which will reduce the pool of available property, leaving thousands of students with nowhere to live.
At the moment it is only speculation that Mr Gove may consider scrapping periodic tenancies for student landlords and we are still awaiting for clarification.
More detail about Mr Gove’s apparent U-turn can be found here
No-fault evictions will come to an end with the government saying this will “empower renters to challenge poor landlords without fear of losing their home.”
There will be new improved grounds for Section 8 such as selling your property and anti-social behaviour.
The government says: “The reforms will strengthen powers to evict anti-social tenants, broadening the disruptive and harmful activities that can lead to eviction and making it quicker to evict a tenant acting anti-socially.”
For the moment Section 21 is still valid but maybe not for long depending on how quickly the bill goes through Parliament.
Notice periods will also be reduced where tenants have been irresponsible – for example breaching their tenancy agreement or causing damage to the property.
If a tenant does not leave, a landlord will need to prove to a court that they are seeking possession for one of the reasons specified in legislation. The government says they will issue guidance to support landlords in this.
The government says: “To ensure maximum flexibility for landlords, we will not mandate what evidence is needed. As an example, a landlord might show they have instructed an estate agent and solicitor if they wished to prove they were selling a property.”
Landlords will be able to end a tenancy in specific circumstances defined in law. The grounds for possession are outlined here:
Table 1: Reformed grounds for possession
|Ground||Explanation||Notice Period||Mandatory or discretionary|
|Moving in||The landlord or their close family member wishes to move into the property.||2 months||Mandatory|
|Selling||The landlord wishes to sell the property||2 months||Mandatory|
|Student accommodation||In the 12 months prior to the start of the tenancy the property has been used to house students. This can be used by educational establishments and PBSA only.||2 weeks||Mandatory|
|Mortgage repossession||The property is subject to a mortgage and the lender exercises a power of sale requiring vacant possession||2 months||Mandatory|
|Superior lease ending||The landlord’s lease is under a superior tenancy that is terminated by the superior landlord.||2 months||Mandatory|
|Selling (rent-to-buy)||The landlord is a private registered provider of social housing and there is a rent-to-buy agreement||2 months||Mandatory|
The full list covering all circumstances a landlord might reasonably expect possession can be found here
Where a landlord seeks possession using section 8 grounds, the process to end a tenancy will be similar to the current process of using section 21. Landlords will need to serve the notice on the prescribed form to their tenant with the required notice period. Landlords will need to go to court if a tenant does not leave and provide evidence that the ground applies.
It’s good news for our furry friends as tenants will also now get the legal right to have a pet in their rented home – and a landlord cannot reasonably refuse a request.
Landlords will be able to require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property.
Tenants also pay a tenancy deposit which can be used for damages although landlords should not attempt to recover costs twice for the same damage.
The government says: “There are situations where it will always be reasonable for a landlord to refuse a request – including where their superior landlord prohibits pets. We will provide guidance to landlords and tenants to support decisions.
“Where there is disagreement, a tenant can escalate their complaint to the Private Rented Sector Ombudsman or through the court which makes the final decision based on the evidence provided by both parties.”
If a pet damages a property and the insurance and deposit do not cover the cost of the damage, the bill says a landlord could take the tenant to court to recoup additional funds in line with wider rules in the sector.
In the new system, all rent increases will be via one mechanism which replicates the existing section 13 process. This will require a landlord to complete a simple form, which will be published on GOV.UK, and the landlord will serve this to the tenant.
Once the form is served, the landlord will not have to take further action. If the tenant accepts the proposed rent increase, they simply need to pay the new amount on the next rent day.
A tenant can dispute the increase through referring a case to the First-tier Tribunal, if they think it is above market rate. This must be before the starting date of the proposed new rent and tenants should notify their landlord that they are doing so.
All landlords will be legally required to join the new Ombudsman scheme. At the moment the government is still exploring options for which organisation will take on the role of Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman will be introduced as soon as possible after Royal Assent
The government say: “As a minimum, landlords will be asked for their name, contact information, address, and private rented property details. We are exploring ways for landlord sign-up to align with registration on the Privately Rented Property Portal, so landlords are only required to submit the same information once.”
If a landlord breaches their ombudsman membership requirement, they can be fined up to £5,000 by the local council. If a landlord repeatedly breaches the requirement, they may be fined up to £30,000 and could face criminal prosecution and a Banning Order.
Landlords who use an agent to manage their property will still be required to join the scheme. The Bill says: “Landlords who use managing agents are still responsible for their own behaviour and still retain legal obligations to tenants – particularly around standards and repairs.
“Tenants should be able to seek redress against a landlord when the landlord is at fault, regardless of whether a managing agent is used.”
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.”
Letting agents will not be required to join the Ombudsman scheme.
Landlords will get a new digital Property Portal to understand their obligations and help tenants make better decisions when signing a new tenancy agreement.
The government says this will give confidence to good landlords while driving the criminal minority out of business.
The Renters Reform Bill will make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children.
The government says this will ensure no family is unjustly discriminated against when looking for a place to live.
The decent homes standard will be extended to the PRS for the first time.
Introduced in the early 2000s the standard requires all social housing must be free from serious health and safety hazards.
The government says introducing the decent homes standard to the PRS will give renters higher quality homes.
“We will give renters safer, higher quality homes and remove the blight of poor-quality homes in local communities. This will help deliver the government’s Levelling Up mission to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030.”
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.
We are still awaiting to hear whether fixed term tenancies will be outlawed or whether there will be a exception for student landlords. The information below is what he we have so far.
Tenants will be able to stay in their home until they decide to end the tenancy by giving two months’ notice or the landlord can evidence a valid ground for possession. Landlords won’t be able to use grounds for moving in, selling or redevelopment for the first six months of the tenancy.
The government says: “We will provide at least 6 months’ notice of our first implementation date after which all new tenancies will be periodic and governed by the new rules including the changes to renting with pets. The date of this will be dependent on when the Bill has received Royal Assent.
“To avoid a two-tier rental sector and to make sure landlords and tenants are clear on their rights, all existing tenancies will transition to a new system on the second implementation date. We will allow at least 12 months between the first and second date.”