The Renters’ Reform Bill was introduced in May 2023 and is the first big step towards rebalancing the rights and responsibilities of renters and their landlords. There are around 4.6 million privately rented households in England and over two-fifths of renting adults have been the victim of illegal behaviour from a landlord or letting agent.
This reform couldn’t come at a better time but what exactly does it mean? How will it affect landlords alongside their tenants? Here is what we know already:
What does the bill say?
The Renters’ Reform Bill aims to deliver a better deal for renters whilst simultaneously bringing in improved levels of security for occupants and their families. It aims to do this by abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions and reforming landlord possession grounds.
Other aims of the reform include the introduction of comprehensive possession grounds for landlords so they can recover and repossess properties where tenants are at fault. This would be necessary in cases of antisocial behaviour or rent payment arrears.
Not only will landlords be able to provide better information to tenants, but they will also have a better understanding of their legal obligation and make more informed decisions.
Shorthold or fixed-term assured tenancies will be replaced with periodic tenancies which have no fixed end date. Also, the allocation of an ombudsman will help to arbitrate disputes between tenants and landlords by providing fair and impartial resolutions.
How will it benefit tenants?
In theory, the Renters’ Reform Bill should empower tenants to challenge poor practices from landlords, including unfair rent increases, without fear of eviction.
However, there have been concerns about landlords being able to use loopholes to unfairly evict tenants. While ‘no fault’ evictions have been banned, renters could receive a two weeks notice due to behaviour that is capable of causing nuisance or annoyance.
As part of the bill, landlords must now carefully consider all requests from tenants to keep pets on the property. If they unreasonably refuse, renters are now able to challenge the decision through legal proceedings. If pets are allowed, then the tenants may be asked to take out renters’ insurance to protect against damage to the home.
How does it affect landlords?
Landlords should enjoy more confidence in their position when it comes to antisocial tenants. It should also now be easier for them to reclaim the property if they have a genuine interest in moving back into the property, using it as student housing, or selling it. It is legal to do this six months into a tenancy.
While landlords are legally required to conform to appropriate standards of repair, overcrowding, and licensing, there are concerns about enforcement and how local councils will know that bad practice is occurring.