What is the new Renters (Reform) Bill 2023?
In this article, Commercial Property Secretary Sheryl Hartigan outlines the proposals in the new Renters (Reform) Bill 2023 and explains how this will change the current situation for landlords and tenants.
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What is the new Renters Reform Bill 2023?
The Renters (Reform) Bill is a new piece of legislation currently being debated in the UK Parliament. However, it only applies to England. It will bring in new measures surrounding assured tenancies, renting and the relationship between private landlords and tenants.
What are the new rules for renters and landlords?
Until the law is in place, the new rules of the Renters Reform Bill cannot be confirmed. We can only comment on the bill as it currently stands.
Renters Reform Bill Summary:
The Overview of the Bill issued by the Government sets out the main aspects of the Renters Reform Bill. In its current form (August 2023), some of the main aims of the Renters (Reform) bill are to:
To put an end to ‘No Fault’, Section 21 evictions.
At present, a landlord can evict the tenants using a Section 21 Notice after the fixed term tenancy comes to an end or during a periodic tenancy (with no fixed end date). This will give tenants more security without the risk of being unexpectedly or perhaps unfairly evicted.
To amend and reform the possession grounds for landlords to recover their property.
This includes if the landlord wishes to sell the property or move in their close family. The Bill also sets out how landlords can repossess their property in cases of anti-social behaviour and repeat rent arrears of the tenant.
To introduce a new private renters Property Portal.
The Property Portal will be a database of residential landlords and privately rented properties in England. This ensures landlords know their obligations and tenants can make informed decisions when entering into a tenancy.
Introduce a private rental ombudsman.
This ombudsman will help settle disputes between landlords and tenants fairly and help parties reach agreement without adversarial court proceedings.
To allow the landlord the ability to increase rents in line with market rates
Give the tenant greater confidence to appeal above-market rents
To allow tenants the right to request a pet for their property, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse
The Bill will also amend related existing legislation so that landlords can require pet insurance to cover damage if consent is given.
To apply a Decent Homes Standard of properties in the private rented sector so tenants are not living in unsafe and poor-quality homes.
Is Section 21 being abolished?
At present (August 2023) a Section 21 Notice is still valid. The Renters Reform bill needs to go through several stages of Parliament before it becomes law. If the bill is passed in its present form (as of 17 May 2023) then Section 21 will be abolished and make all tenancies periodic. This means tenants will have greater flexibility in deciding when to vacate a property. However, they will need to provide 2 months’ notice to their landlord.
Can landlords evict a tenant under the new law?
The Renters Reform Bill will set out reasonable circumstances where the landlord can evict a tenant. These include if the landlord wishes to sell their property. These grounds will not be available in the first 6 months of the tenancy. This reflects the protection tenants currently have.
An eviction will be mandatory if the tenant has not paid rent for at least 2 months, at least 3 times, within a 3-year period.
The notice period will be increased to 4 weeks. Tenants will also need to be in 2 months’ rent arrears at time of hearing.
It will also be made illegal within the Renters Reform Bill for landlords and agents to put a ban on renting to those in receipt of benefits or with children.
How much can a landlord increase rent?
In its current form, the Renters Reform bill states landlords can increase their rent annually to be in line with market prices. These increases must be given with 2 months’ notice. Tenants will be able to challenge excessive or unfair rent increases through the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). This aims to prevent ‘back door’ evictions. This is when rent is increased leaving the tenant no choice but to vacate the property.
Can a landlord refuse pets?
Currently, it is under the landlord’s discretion to allow a tenant to keep a pet at their property.
However, under the Renters Reform Bill, as an implied term of the assured tenancy, the tenant will have the right to request to keep pets at the property. The landlord must consider the request and can only refuse if they have a reasonable justification to do so. Landlords may require pet insurance to cover any possible damage to their property.
When will the Renters Reform Bill become law?
There is currently no precise timescale of when the new rules will become law. There are several stages a bill needs to go through before it comes into force/effect. The bill is presently at second reading in the House of Commons. It will also need to be read by the House of Lords for their consideration. Therefore, it may be several months before the act becomes law.
If you are a landlord or tenant and require any advice about how these new proposals will affect you, please get in touch. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01707 329333. We look forward to hearing from you.