On the 17th May, 2023, the government introduced to parliament the long-awaited Renter’s Reform Bill, which is set to improve the rental sector and usher in a range of new reforms, making significant modifications to the existing system. Principally, the bill is about improving circumstances for the UK’s 11 million private renters and 2.3 million landlords. However, it’s not expected to become law until after April of 2024, giving landlords and tenants plenty of time to review and understand the changes ahead of time.
The key points are as follows:
Increases in Stability and Security
Section 21 notices are to be replaced with additional possession grounds to deliver a more straightforward and secure tenancy structure. This means landlords now gaining possession of their properties by use of a Section 8 notice instead of a Section 21.
This is so if they wish to sell their property, move themselves or their family into the property or deal with repeated serious arrears, they will be able to do so.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies are to become Periodic Assured Tenancies. However, high rent tenancies or company tenancies are to remain the same.
The Introduction of a Private Rented Sector Database
A database of the private rented sector will allow landlords and local authorities to access important information. Landlords will be required to enter their properties onto the database in order to make them eligible for rental.
Landlords will also be given a clear guide in regards to their responsibilities, and tenants will be provided with information regarding their landlord’s compliance. Also, local authorities will have improved data that means being able to better tackle criminal landlords.
A New Ombudsman for Landlords and Renters
A government-approved Ombudsman is to be brought in to provide fair, impartial and binding resolution to many issues in a quicker, cheaper and less adversarial way than the court system. This is to include all private landlords in England, whether or not they go through an agent.
The scheme will be mandatory for all landlords. However, at the current time, more information is needed on when and how the scheme is to be implemented.
Annual Rent Increase Review
Landlords are free to increase rents annually in line with market rents. These increases are to be managed through a Section 13 notice and tenants must be given two months notice.
Tenants also have the right to challenge the increase if it’s thought to be unreasonable or unfair. The government has stated their aim is to prevent tenants being locked into rent increases that are unclear or may not reflect changes in the market price.
Implementation of the Decent Home Standard (DHS)
The introduction of the Decent Homes Standard (DHS) is to ensure private renters have better, safer homes, with landlords expected to manage the property effectively so as to preempt a complaint made by the tenant. Again, it helps councils monitor and deal with rogue landlords.
By 2030, the government plans to reduce by half the number of unfit homes, although ongoing consultation is required before this is introduced.
New Rights for Renters With Children, Who Own Pets or are Claiming Benefits
This part of the bill now makes it illegal for landlords or agents to refuse tenants because they have children or are claiming state benefits. It also requires individual properties that are suitable for children. For instance, ensuring there’s enough room in the property for the number of children a family has.
Landlords also can’t refuse a request to have a pet in their home without reasonable grounds. For instance, if a landlord is expected to move back into the property at some point and can prove a pet allergy, or when the head lease doesn’t allow pets in general.
Tenants will also be expected to buy pet insurance to cover any potential damage caused by the pet. If they refuse, the landlord is free to deny the request.