10 things landlords need to know about the new Renters (Reform) Bill

Property Disputes - 3 minutes read

What is it?

The Renters (Reform) Bill is the new proposed legislation that details the government’s plans to reform the private rental sector in England.

The Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023 and if it is passed into law, it is expected to come into force in 2024, bringing with it some fundamental changes that will affect both private landlords and tenants. The Bill is intended to “level up” the private rental sector to give tenants a better deal, with more rights, protection and security. But how does it affect landlords?

How does the new renters reform bill affect me as a landlord?

The Bill proposes a number of changes that means as a landlord you may need to take action:

1/ No more “no fault” section 21 evictions. As a landlord, you will only be able to evict tenants in certain circumstances. These will include if the rent is in arrears, if your tenants are guilty of anti-social behaviour, or if you want to sell the property or move yourself or close family into the property. (NB: correct at the time of publishing, as the legislation is still in draft form).

2/ Periodic tenancies will become the norm for all assured shorthold tenancies. This offers more flexibility for tenants, as they will no longer be tied into fixed term contracts at the end of the fixed term. But flexibility also brings risk, as landlords will be on tenterhooks wondering if their tenants may give notice from one month to the next.

3/ You will need to provide more notice to tenants if you want to increase the rent. The notice period will rise from 1-month to 2-months. The purpose of this is to allow tenants more time to budget, or to look at their options. As a landlord, it means you will need to plan ahead if you know you will need to raise the rent. Landlords with larger portfolios may benefit from financial planning advice.

4/ Prevent “backdoor eviction” by ensuring tenants are able to appeal excessively above-market rents. If there is a dispute about the proposed rent, a tribunal will determine the market rate. Landlords would be wise to keep one eye on the rental market rates and make a note of any trends which justify their intention to increase rent.

5/ Your tenants will now have more rights to keep a pet in their home. Landlords will only be able to refuse the right for a tenant to keep a pet in reasonable circumstances. The proposed legislation will support landlords by requiring insurance to cover pet-related damage.

6/ There will be a single point of contact for tenants to get support in resolving a dispute with their landlord. This should keep legal costs down if there is a disagreement, and it would be sensible to incorporate a mediation clause into the tenancy agreement.

7/ You and your tenants will have access to a new portal. Here you will both be able to find out information and it is also the place where tenants would be able to log complaints. As a landlord, you will need to register on this portal.

8/ Landlords will be able to access mediation services to resolve disputes with tenants before going to the Private Rented Sector Ombudsman. Again, this is intended to avoid the cost of litigated or protracted disputes where possible.

9/ Landlords will still be able to gain possession of their property. However, as a landlord you will need a good reason to access the property. If you want to take back possession of your property, you will need to send a notice under one or more of the grounds provided for within section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.

10/ Application of the “Decent Homes Standard” to the private rented sector is intended to bring about safer, better value homes as part of the government’s Levelling Up mission and prohibiting a blanket ban on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children.

Further resources

You can find more information about the Renters (reform) Bill on GOV.UK

Talk to us

If you are a landlord and you have any questions about the new Renters (Reform) Bill or how to resolve a dispute with a tenant then do not hesitate to get in touch with our property dispute solicitors.