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Major changes coming for tenants and landlords in Government’s Renters’ Reform Bill

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The Government has introduced the much-anticipated Renters’ Reform Bill to Parliament today, which includes plans to abolish Section 21 eviction notices and improved powers to evict anti-social tenants.

According to the Department for Levelling Up, the reforms will benefit around 11 million tenants and protect around two million landlords.

The bill will abolish section 21 eviction notices, which was a 2019 manifesto commitment, and will help renters to “challenge poor landlords”.

Landlords will be able to recover properties more easily, so they can sell or move in a close family member or if tenants do not pay rent. Notice periods will be cut where tenants are “irresponsible” and breach the tenancy agreement or damage the property.

Landlords will have more powers to evict anti-social tenants as the list of “disruptive and harmful activities” will be widened.

The bill will include plans for reformed courts process so that for the evictions reaching the courts, more of the process will be digitized and therefore have delays cut.

There will also be an Ombudsman to “provide quicker and cheaper resolutions to disputes” with a digital property portal to help landlords “understand their obligations and help tenants make better decisions when signing a new tenancy agreement”.

Decent homes standards to be mandated

The bill plans to apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time, which the Government says will give renters “safer, higher quality homes and remove the blight of poor-quality homes in local communities”.

Another reform will make it illegal for landlords and agents to have “blanket bans” on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children.

Councils’ enforcement powers will be improved and there will be a requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity to crack down on “criminal landlords”.

Tenants will have the legal right to request a pet in their home, which the landlord has to consider and “cannot unreasonably refuse”.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them.

“This Government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a new deal to those living in the Private Rented Sector; one with quality, affordability, and fairness at its heart.

He added: “Our new laws introduced to Parliament today will support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants, while delivering our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions.

“This will ensure that everyone can live somewhere which is decent, safe and secure – a place they’re truly proud to call home.”

Trade bodies welcome reforms but say implementation must be considered

Dan Wilson Craw, acting director of Generation Rent, said that the bill could be a “huge opportunity” to improve the lives of 11 million people who rent from landlords in England.

He said: “Arbitrary Section 21 evictions make it impossible for tenants to put down roots and report problems about their home with confidence. Abolishing them will take away much of the stress of renting and improve communication and trust between tenants and landlords.

“The new Property Portal and Ombudsman have the potential to make it much harder for criminal landlords to operate.”

Wilson Craw continued that it looked forward to reading the bill and working with ministers and parliamentarians to ensure the legislation “achieves what it sets out to do”.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), said it welcomed the pledge to ensure landlords can “swiftly recover” properties from anti-social tenants or those failing to pay rent.

He said: “Plans to digitise court hearings will also improve the speed at which legitimate possession cases are processed. The NRLA will continue to work with the Government to ensure the detail of the Bill is fair for responsible landlords and tenants alike.”

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark said that the reforms had been “long awaited” and would bring “much needed clarity to letting agents, their landlords and tenants”.

He continued: “Propertymark will support the UK government to ensure the specific details work in practice for those on the ground, whilst providing both security and fairness for both parties of the rental agreement.

“It is also important implementation is well planned and managed as these reforms are significant for the sector.”