Renters Reform Bill – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Renters Reform Bill?

  • The Renters Reform Bill is a proposed piece of legislation that has been introduced by the Government with the aim to reform the private rented sector (PRS) and level up housing quality and to “”bring in a better deal for renters” and marks “the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in 30 years”.

Why is the Renters Reform Bill being introduced?

  • With the significant increase in size and role of the Private Rented Sector over the last 30 years, with more and more people becoming renters the Government has sought to update and expand upon legislation that was in place when the sector was much smaller. The aim of the Government is to deliver on their commitment to “bring in a better deal for renters” and to ensure private rented homes meet basic standards. The proposed new laws have been introduced to “support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants, while delivering our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions.”

When is the Renters Reform Bill going to become legislation?

  • At this time, we cannot confirm the date the bill will become law. The bill must pass through both houses of Parliament where amendments are expected to be made. The government plans to have the bill pass into law in the lifetime of this Parliament which is currently due to run to Dec 2024. As with most pieces of legislation there will be an implementation phase once the Bill becomes law.
  • The Government has said they plan to implement the new system in two stages and will provide at least 6 months’ notice of the first implementation date after which all new tenancies will be periodic and governed by the new rules including the changes to renting with pets. The date of this will be dependent on when the Bill has received Royal Assent. To avoid a two-tier rental sector and to make sure landlords and tenants are clear on their rights, all existing tenancies will transition to a new system on the second implementation date. They will allow at least 12 months between the first and second date.

As a Landlord is there anything I have to do now?

  • With the Bill not yet becoming law there is nothing as a landlord you need to do differently at this time. It is useful to be aware of the possible future implications the bill may have but until such time you can proceed within the current legislative framework.

Can I still serve a Section 21 notice now to end my current tenancy?

  • As the proposed Bill is not yet a law you are able to proceed to serve the Section 21 notice in line with current legislation and in line with clauses in your tenancy agreement

Is it going to be harder for me to get possession back of my property?

  • The proposed Bill is going to change the way in which a landlord can get possession back of their property. As a landlord you will need to have a specific reason as to why you want to serve notice. The Section 8 Notice process will be amended and updated to include which specific reasons will be permissible within the legislation. If the reason for wanting to get possession back of the property is not one of the grounds that will be referenced in an amended Section 8 Notice process then it will more challenging to get possession back and the time frames could increase.

When is it reasonable for a landlord to refuse a tenant having a pet?

  • Landlords will be required to fully consider all requests on a case-by-case basis. Due to the diversity of landlords, tenants, and properties in the private rented sector, the Government has said it would not be possible to legislate for every situation where a landlord would or would not be able to ‘reasonably’ refuse a pet. There are situations where it will always be reasonable for a landlord to refuse a request – including where their superior landlord prohibits pets. Where there is disagreement, a tenant can escalate their complaint to the Private Rented Sector Ombudsman or through the court which makes the final decision based on the evidence provided by both parties.

What happens if a pet damages a property?

  • The Government is amending the Tenant Fees Act 2019 so that landlords can require insurance to cover any damage caused by pets living in the property. In the very rare cases where the insurance and deposit do not cover the cost of the damage, a landlord could take the tenant to court to recoup additional funds

How will a landlord sign up to the Property Portal and what happens if they don’t?

  • All landlords will be legally required to register their property on the Property Portal and will be able to do this online. Local councils will be able to take enforcement action against private landlords that fail to join the Property Portal.  If a landlord lets or advertises a property without it first being registered on the Property Portal, they can be fined up to £5,000 by the local council. If a landlord repeatedly breaches the requirement, or if they commit a serious offence such as providing fraudulent information to the Property Portal, they may be fined up to £30,000 or could face criminal prosecution and a Banning Order.

Who will pay for the Property Portal? How much will it cost landlords?

  • Landlords will be required to pay to registered for the Property Portal. They cost has not yet been determined but the Government say they will work to ensure that the fee is proportionate and good value.