30 October 2023

The Renters Reform Bill 2023 marks a significant step in the UK's efforts to balance the rights of landlords and tenants. With particular focus on improving living conditions and increasing security for tenants, the bill introduces several key changes and sets a new standard for the country's rental market. Amongst changing forms of notice for possession proceedings, creating renters right to request permission for a pet, a private sector database, introduction of a new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman, and abolition of fixed term contracts there are the following more widely publicised proposals:

1. Abolishing 'No-Fault' Evictions and introduction of new grounds: One of the more contentious provisions of the bill is the proposed abolition of the Section 21 notice process. Currently landlords can evict tenants without providing a reason, which has for many years led to insecurity for renters. The Renters Reform Bill proposes that tenants can only be evicted on specific grounds. It introduces several new grounds for eviction where landlords are looking to sell or move back in, or to refurbish and strengthening existing grounds for repossession where there is anti-social behaviour. This is expected to offer increased stability and peace of mind for renters whilst permitting landlords to regain their property in these given situations.

2. Improved Safety and Quality Standards: Under the Renters Reform Bill, rental properties will be subject to more rigorous safety and quality standards by applying the Decent Homes Standard. This includes mandatory electrical safety checks every five years and regular gas safety inspections. These are amongst current measures aimed to ensure that rented homes meet high-quality living standards.

3. Renters' Right to Redress: The bill should empower renters by granting them the right to redress. This means that tenants can seek compensation or demand action from their landlords for breaches of their legal obligations. It provides a mechanism for holding landlords accountable and addressing issues such as repairs, maintenance, and health and safety concerns.

4. Enforcement of Landlord Obligations: Local authorities will be given additional powers to enforce landlord obligations, including fines for non-compliance. This reinforces the importance of maintaining high living standards in rental properties and holding landlords accountable for their responsibilities.

The bill has passed the first and second reading in the House of Commons and is currently at the committee stage. Whilst it was reported recently that the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would push ahead with the bill, the Secretary of State for levelling up housing and communities Michael Gove announced on 23rd October 2023 “Implementation of reforms in the bill won’t proceed until further improvements are in place and HMCTS is fully prepared for these changes”.

Conclusion: The Renters Reform Bill 2023 represents a major shift in the UK's approach to tenant rights and rental property regulations. By abolishing 'no-fault' evictions, fixed term contracts, enhancing safety and quality standards, the bill is designed to create a more secure rental market. These changes should provide renters with a higher level of protection, improving living conditions and offering greater peace of mind. It's a significant milestone in the ongoing effort to make the UK's rental market fairer and safer for all. However, given recent announcements the timeframe for implementation is as uncertain now as it has ever been.

For more information on renting and letting property, contact Jacqui Swann 01935 846254 or Shaz Sarfraz 01225 536872