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Renters reform bill: Transforming the UK rental sector

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The UK Government recently unveiled landmark reforms with the Renters Reform Bill in order to bring significant changes to the country’s private and public rental sectors. This bill proposes to end no-fault evictions for tenants and ensure a fairer Private Rented Sector for landlords — who will be able to recover properties easily from anti-social tenants.

Overview of the renters reform bill

On 17th May, the UK Government had the first reading and published the first draft of the much-anticipated Renters
Reform Bill in Parliament. This long-awaited bill has generated substantial discussion over the past four years and
covers reforms of the obligations of both landlords and tenants.

Although the bill is subject to amendments as it passes through Parliament, its core objectives are to enhance the
rights of nearly 11 million tenants. While the bill’s passage through Parliament will take some time, let’s explore some
key provisions that benefit tenants and landlords.

Key provisions of the renters reform bill

  1. Protecting Tenants
  2. Protecting Landlords
  3. Government Enforcement

1. Protecting tenants (Key provisions for tenants)

  • The bill aims to eliminate no-fault evictions, ensuring all tenancies transition to periodic tenancies.
  • With enhanced safeguards, tenants will enjoy stronger protections against retaliatory evictions.
  • The introduction of a Private Rented Sector Ombudsman will reduce the burden on courts and resolve disputes
    between tenants and landlords in the private rented sector.
  • Tenants will have the right to request permission for pets, while landlords can require pet insurance to cover
    potential damages.

2. Protecting landlords (Key provisions for landlords)

The Renters Reform Bill will protect over two million landlords in the UK and recognize their possession needs by
introducing additional grounds for possession in cases of anti-social behavior.

  • This bill makes it easier to streamline property sales for landlords who wish to sell their rental properties.
  • Landlords will also have permission to regain possession for close family members to accommodate their housing
    needs.
  • The bill will enable landlords to evict tenants who intentionally delay or refuse to pay rent.
  • The Renters Reform Bill also includes other significant reforms, such as reducing notice periods for tenants who
    breach agreements or cause property damage.

3. Government enforcement (Additional government enforcement measures)

  • Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector for the first time.
  • Prohibit blanket bans on renting to tenants receiving benefits or with children.

Renters Reform Bill

Key areas of the renters reform bill

  1. Eliminating Section 21
  2. New Ombudsman with Digital Portal
  3. No Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST)
  4. Removal of Fixed Terms
  5. Pets

1. Eliminating section 21

Once passed, the Renters Reform bill will eliminate Section 21, which currently enables landlords to evict tenants
without specifying a reason.

2. New ombudsman with digital portal

The government also intends to introduce a new Ombudsman to effectively resolve minor disputes, providing swift
resolutions without court involvement. A digital property portal will provide landlords and tenants with vital
information regarding their respective responsibilities.

3. No assured shorthold tenancy agreement (AST)

Under the Renters Reform Bill, the concept of Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements (ASTs) will be abolished entirely.
Consequently, all tenancies will be treated as periodic tenancies and rental periods will be limited to either 28 days
or one month. If a landlord issues a notice to quit or attempts to establish a fixed-term tenancy, they can face local
authority-imposed penalties.

4. Removal of fixed terms

There will be no fixed terms for tenancies. Therefore, tenants can give two months’ notice and terminate their tenancy
at any time. They can also move into a property and give notice the same day.

5. Pets

Under this bill, with the landlord’s consent, tenants in the UK will have the right to keep a pet. However, this consent
must be accepted and withheld, and landlords must respond within 42 days of the request. Landlords will have the option
to require tenants to obtain pet insurance as a condition for granting consent.

Conclusion

This bill signifies a substantial shift in the UK’s private and public rental sectors, providing enhanced security for
tenants, recognising the demands and rights of landlords, and promoting a fair and balanced rental market.

With the Renters Reform Bill gaining momentum, now is an excellent time for tenants and landlords to seek advice and
ensure they are well-prepared for the proposed reforms. If you require assistance or guidance on the bill’s implications
or any property-related matters, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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About the Author

Established in 1958, Benham and Reeves is one of London’s oldest, independently owned property lettings and sales agents.  With specialism in residential sales, corporate lettings and property management in prime areas of London, the company operates from 21 prominently located branches and 14 international offices.

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