Renter Reform: No more no-fault evictions

29 June 2022

Do you rent privately through a landlord or are you a private landlord? If so, you will be interested in the game-changing ‘Renters Reform Bill’ which is set to drastically change the landscape of private renting. The reform imposes more obligations on landlords but also brings clarity and support to landlords with the provision of a private-renters’ ombudsman to settle disputes.  It will also give tenants greater powers to challenge poor practice without the fear of being unfairly evicted. The Renters Reform Bill was first proposed in 2019; some three years, one pandemic and almost 230,000 no-fault eviction notices later, the government announced its ‘New Deal for renters’, promising reforms to deal with the issues faced by both tenants and landlords.  The rationale is to change a landlord’s ability to issue no-fault eviction notices (known as section 21 Notices under the Housing Act) which is causing hardship and, in some cases, homelessness,  as well as to provide landlords with a way to deal with problem tenants.

The Renter Reform Bill aims to give tenants greater powers against unscrupulous landlords without fear of losing their home. Further, the Bill will end arbitrary rent-review clauses, where the tenant will be able to challenge rent rises that seem unfair and unjustified; restricting tribunals from increasing rent and enabling tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes. This will make sure tenants can take their landlord to court to seek repayment of rent if their homes are of unacceptable standard. The Bill will extend the ‘Decent Homes Standards’ and give councils the power to increase fines against landlords for serious offences. Landlords can still terminate tenancies when for legitimate reasons, such as the landlords wanting to move into the homes themselves, or if the tenant is not paying their rent, but landlords will now have to give much more notice allowing tenants more time to find alternative accommodation. Additionally, the reforms will introduce a ‘property portal’ to allow landlords to comply with their responsibilities, such as meeting higher standards of living with no mould/damp in houses.

Furthermore, the Bill will outlaw blanket bans on families. Families with children or families that receive benefits will no longer be refused by private landlords. Moreover, tenants will have the right to request a pet in their home, the landlord must consider the request and cannot unreasonably refuse.

It’s not all one sided in favour of tenants though; the Renters Reform Bill provides greater clarity and support for landlords, with the use of the portal and clearer grounds for what is expected from landlords to ensure they abide by the ‘Decent Home Standards’. As well, there will be a new private renters’ ombudsman to assist landlords settle disputes more efficiently. The courts will be given increased powers to expedite landlord/tenant matters and a new mediation service will be implemented to provide for out of court resolutions.

The Renters Reform Bill is currently (as at June 2022) a white paper and is expected to be put before parliament to vote before the end of 2022. The government have stipulated a 6 months’ notice period before the reforms are implemented and a further 12 months before the reforms become mandatory.  The reforms will apply to all existing tenancies, not just new tenancies entered into after the new rules are introduced. If you are a landlord of a property and want to understand how you will be affected by the Renters Reform Bill, please feel free to get in touch with Sally Mouhim by telephone 01273 447 068, [email protected] or click here to fill out an enquiry form.

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