What changes will be made in the new Renters Reform Bill 2023?
The Renters’ Reform Bill represents a significant overhaul of the private rented sector (PRS) in England, marking the most substantial changes in 30 years. In June 2022, the government released a white paper, A Fairer Private Rented Sector, detailing its proposals. Following the King’s coronation, the government confirmed that the Renters’ Reform Bill will be introduced to Parliament in the week commencing 8 May 2023.
The white paper outlines various plans, including abolishing section 21, ensuring private rented properties meet the Decent Homes Standard, and creating a new ombudsman for private landlords and a property portal. Additional proposals encompass making all tenancies periodic, extending notice periods for rent reviews, prohibiting landlords from imposing blanket bans on families with children or those receiving benefits, and enhancing tenants’ rights to keep pets.
The Renters’ Reform Bill aims to redress the balance between landlords and the 4.4 million private rented tenants, offering support for cost of living pressures and protections for vulnerable individuals. At the same time, it will provide clarity and support for the estimated 2.3 million private landlords through the introduction of a Private Renters’ Ombudsman, improvements to possession grounds under section 8, and the establishment of a new property portal.
Michael Gove, Home Secretary spoke with Sky News about the new changes the Renter’s Reform Bill 2023 will bring
“We’re introducing new legislation, it will be out next week and it will change the way in which the relationship between landlords and tenants work, providing tenants with new protection which should ensure that they’re better protected from arbitrary rent increases.”
Key changes expected in the Renters’ Reform Bill 2023
Here are some of the most significant changes in the Renter’s Reform Bill we can expect to see in 2023.
- Abolition of Section 21 “no fault” evictions.
- Introduction of standard periodic tenancies.
- Doubling notice periods for rent increases.
- Implementation of minimum housing standards.
- Greater rights for tenants to keep pets in properties.
- Outlawing blanket bans on renting to families with children or those on benefits.
- Establishment of a new ombudsman covering all private landlords.
- Creation of a new Property Portal for private landlords and tenants.
Abolition of Section 21 “no fault” evictions
Section 21 will be abolished, meaning landlords can only evict tenants under reasonable circumstances defined by law. This change aims to empower tenants to challenge poor practices and unjustified rent increases while encouraging landlords to engage and resolve issues. For landlords, this means they will need to provide specific reasons when evicting a tenant, and for renters, it offers more security in their tenancies.
Introduction of standard periodic tenancies
All tenants with an Assured Tenancy or Assured Shorthold Tenancy will be moved to a single system of periodic tenancies. This provides greater security for tenants while maintaining the flexibility of privately rented accommodation. Landlords will only be able to evict tenants under reasonable circumstances defined by law. The introduction of periodic tenancies aims to simplify tenancy agreements for both parties, ensuring a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities.
Doubling notice periods for rent increases
Rent increases will be limited to once per year, and the minimum notice landlords must provide for a rent change will be increased to two months. This change intends to help tenants manage the cost of living better and provide them with more time to prepare for rent adjustments. Landlords will need to plan rent increases more carefully to comply with these new regulations.
Implementation of minimum housing standards
The Decent Homes Standard, which currently applies only to social housing, will be extended to the PRS. In order to rent out a property it must be free from health and safety hazards, and well-maintained. This change aims to raise housing quality standards and ensure all landlords manage their properties effectively. For renters, this means living in safer and better-maintained properties, while landlords will need to ensure their properties meet these minimum standards.
Greater rights for tenants to keep pets in properties
Landlords will be required not to unreasonably withhold consent for tenants to have pets in their homes. To protect landlords from potential damages caused by pets, the Tenant Fees Act 2019 will be amended to include pet insurance as a permitted payment. This change provides tenants with more freedom in their rented homes and encourages responsible pet ownership.
Outlawing blanket bans on renting to families with children or those on benefits
Landlords and letting agents will no longer be allowed to impose blanket bans on renting to families with children or individuals receiving benefits. This change aims to reduce discrimination in the rental market and increase accessibility to PRS accommodation for vulnerable groups.
Establishment of a new ombudsman covering all private landlords
A single, government-approved ombudsman will be introduced to cover all private landlords in England, regardless of whether they use a letting agent. The ombudsman will have powers to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants, which may include enforcing apologies from landlords, taking action to remedy disputes and pay compensation of up to £25,000. This change ensures that tenants have access to redress services and that landlords remain accountable for their conduct and legal responsibilities.
A new digital Property Portal for the private rental sector
A new digital Property Portal will be introduced to provide landlords with a single platform to understand and demonstrate compliance with legal requirements. The portal will also support good landlords in showcasing regulatory compliance and attracting prospective tenants. Landlords will be legally required to register their properties on the portal, and local councils will have the power to enforce against non-compliant landlords. This change aims to increase transparency and simplify the process of renting properties for both landlords and tenants.
These new amendments are not the only changes landlords must adapt to. Recently, the government proposed changes to the minimum EPC requirements. Despite many landlords claiming the legalities around this not being clear, this will come into affect in 2025.
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