Renters and landlords alike have been struggling to stay afloat in recent years with house prices and rental costs both significantly changing due to the ongoing housing, cost of living and mortgage crises, many have found themselves priced out of an increasingly unstable housing market.
The Renters Reform Bill has been proposed as a potential solution to the perceived unfairness and lack of oversight in the private rented sector. Introduced to parliament earlier this year, the bill has received no shortage of attention from both the media and concerned private rented stakeholders.
Though we previously explored how the bill (and any speculation surrounding it) could impact the housing market, the specific terms of the bill may still be misunderstood by the people who are the most likely to be influenced by it – namely landlords and renters.
Are you concerned about the Renters Reform Bill? Are you still trying to understand what it could mean for your owned properties, tenancy agreements or general well-being?
Team CCG is here to help with a simple breakdown of exactly what the bill aims to do.
The Renters Reform Bill was first proposed in April 2019 as part of a plan by former prime minister Theresa May to put an end to Section 21 evictions, otherwise known as ‘no-fault evictions’. These evictions previously allowed landlords to remove tenants from their properties without needing to establish any legal cause.
In the four years since the Renters Reform Bill has evolved to encompass a wider range of housing law changes intended to create a fairer private rented sector.
The government’s argument, as outlined in their ‘A fairer private rented sector’ whitepaper, is that Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) fail to provide security to tenants with adequate security and housing quality, increasing the likelihood of homelessness and diminishing the responsibility of landlords to their tenants.
The lack of any firm legal requirements or legislation for private landlords to accommodate their tenants beyond necessities also means that local authorities are unable to properly tackle poor property management, with evidence of inconsistency in private rental law enforcement being attributed to funding pressures.
The Renters Reform Bill will not only seek to address lapses and shortcomings in tenant rights but also encourage trust in high-quality, responsible landlords and discourage ‘slumlords’.
After years of being written, rewritten, debated and passed around, the Renters Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament in May 2023. Now, as it progresses through parliament, the bill will have a maximum term of just under 18 months to be considered and passed before 2024’s general election.
Despite this 18-month deadline, there is no set timeframe for a bill to be put into practice after entering parliament. The bill may also be altered before it gets passed.
As of August 2023, the Bill will introduce the following changes to the private rented sector:
Landlords have naturally become concerned that the Renters Reform Bill will introduce a host of obstacles to the private rented sector during an already challenging and turbulent period.
With the rental crisis being prompted largely by the cost of living and interest increases, some are concerned that further meddling will have the adverse effect of pushing existing landlords from the private rented sector and reducing the nation’s supply of rental properties.
Earlier this year, renters found themselves on the receiving end of record rent hikes due to surging mortgage costs and landlords attempting to offset their financial impact. With Zoopla reporting a 10% rise in private rented home demand since 2022, any further shifts to the current supply of buy-to-let homes could put renters at more of a disadvantage.
For tenants, the Renters Reform Bill should seem like the breath of fresh air they needed, but many tenant organisations are concerned that the new processes being introduced to give landlords the right to repossess their properties could wind up becoming no-fault evictions under a different name.
Homelessness charity Shelter, for instance, released an immediate response to the Renters Reform Bill claiming that its terms would not sufficiently protect private renters. Their suggestions for a more ambitious bill involve:
There are also certain aspects of the ‘A fairer private rented sector’ whitepaper not present in the proposed bill, including:
There are also concerns that the bill may not be put into action in time to significantly impact the already dire state of the private rented sector for the average renter, which has already led to record homelessness in the capital.
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