The UK Government announced today (17 May 2023) that it is introducing a series of long-awaited reforms to the private rental market in its bid to improve the “quality, affordability, and fairness” of the sector.
The Renters’ (Reform) Bill is dubbed by the Government as representing a “once-in-a-generation” overhaul of housing laws, and the new legislation includes a number of provisions that will affect landlords and tenants.
One of the most significant changes is the abolition of ‘no-fault’ evictions, also known as Section 21 notices, which allow landlords to ask tenants to move out of a property without giving a reason. After being served a Section 21, a tenant has two months to vacate the property before a landlord can apply for a court order to evict them.
Section 21 notices have been heavily criticised for preventing tenants from complaining about poor conditions of rental properties.
The Government hopes that the abolition of no-fault evictions will make the private rental system fairer and improve standards. Housing Secretary Michael Gove said the new Bill would ensure renters are “protected from the very small minority of rogue landlords who use the threat of no-fault eviction to silence tenants who want to complain about poor conditions”.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
However, the London Renters Union believes that landlords could circumnavigate the new eviction ban by using large rent hikes and other ‘back door’ evictions to force unwanted tenants out.
Siobhan Donnachie, the spokeswoman for the London Renters Union, branded the bill “long overdue” and said “inflation-busting rent” will mean renters will still feel insecure.
“For the many families struggling with housing costs at the moment, a 20% rent hike is simply a no-fault eviction under a different name,” said Donnachie.
“If the government is serious about bringing renters security in our homes, it must recognise how insecure renters feel speaking out against unsafe housing or planning for the future with the threat of inflation-busting rent increases hanging over our heads.”
Under the new Bill, landlords can also no longer refuse to rent properties to families with children or those claiming benefits. Tenants will also be given the legal right to request to keep a pet in their home.
Other key measures of the new Bill include:
- Minimum housing standards to be introduced for the private sector.
- New Ombudsman to be installed to provide quicker and cheaper resolutions to tenancy disputes.
- A new online property portal will be established where landlords must demonstrate compliance with legal requirements.
- The Decent Homes Standard will be applied to the private rented sector to improve the quality of homes.
- Councils’ enforcement powers will be strengthened to help target criminal landlords.
- New processes will be introduced to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants for anti-social behaviour and repeatedly missing rent payments.
The new legislation is a key part of the Government’s mission to ‘level up’ across the country. It follows the wider housing reforms in the Social Housing Regulation Bill and Building Safety Act, which addressed the systemic issues identified following the Grenfell Tower tragedy on improving the safety and quality of social housing and how tenants are treated by their landlords.
Specialist Landlord and Tenant Solicitors
If you have any questions about the upcoming changes introduced by the Renters’ Reform Bill or are a landlord or tenant and want to know more about how it will affect you, please get in touch with Larcomes today. Our solicitors in Portsmouth and Waterlooville have the knowledge and expertise to help.
Our friendly team can also help with any other housing issue you may be facing. So, whether you are simply seeking advice regarding a tenancy lease or if you are engaged in a dispute with your landlord or tenant, please contact Larcomes today.
Depending on the nature of your situation, your solicitor will discuss all the costs involved with you at the start of your case and ensure you are fully aware of what these costs will be.
In certain cases, we can provide a range of fixed and staged fee processes with monthly direct debit arrangements available to help you manage costs.
Get in Touch
Please note that this article is not intended as legal or professional advice. It is for general guidance only, and updates to the law may have changed since it was published.