The Queen's speech on May 10th, delivered by Prince Charles, outlined the government priorities for the year ahead. The speech summarised the government's focus "to grow and strengthen the economy and help ease the cost of living for families" through new legislation and reforms. One bill which will help facilitate this goal is the Renters Reform Bill.
What is the Renters Reform Bill?
The government attempts to reform the renters market through the Renters Reform bill. Theresa May’s government first announced the bill in 2019 to provide renters with more protection and give landlords more rights.
The new legislation will look at:
- extending the Decent Home Standard to the private renter's sector
- banning ‘no fault’ evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988
- strengthen landlords’ rights of possession when evicting tenants who are willfully not paying rent, repeatedly engaging in anti-social behaviour or bringing down neighbourhoods
- a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman
- a new property portal for landlords and tenants
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What does the bill mean for Renters?
The government wants to protect the 4.4 million private renters in England. Shelter reports that “every seven minutes, a private renter is served a no-fault eviction notice”. Furthermore, 22% of those who moved in the past year did not end their tenancy by choice.
Banning Section 21 (no-fault evictions) will mean that renters can’t be evicted without a valid reason. The government also wants to introduce a Private Renters Ombudsman with the hope that it will resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. This aims to reduce the need to go to court and save time and money for landlords and tenants.
What does the bill mean for Landlords?
The government mentioned that the bill would introduce stronger possession grounds for landlords when there are repeated incidences of rent arrears and reduce notice periods when there is antisocial behaviour to “strengthen landlords’ rights of possession”. It remains unclear how this will materialise and how the government intends to maintain a fair equilibrium between landlords’ rights over their assets and tenants’ abilities to live securely in their homes.
The government also wants to introduce a property portal to “help landlords understand their obligations and give tenants performance information to hold their landlord to account” and help councils crack down on the poor practices. A similar system is already implemented in Scotland. While it is unclear what information will be provided on this portal, it could potentially include outstanding repair orders and other breaches of the Decent Homes Standard.
Reforms to the private rented sector have been long overdue. However, uncertainty remains around the timing and how the government will ensure that both landlords' and tenants’ rights will be protected. It is vital to ensure that legislation passed doesn't deter landlords from renting homes while upholding tenants' rights and essential health and safety standards of rented homes.