Uk houses

Government unveils Renters’ Reform Bill

A new law tabled in Parliament is looking to ban landlords from evicting tenants with no justification as part of a long-discussed overhaul of the private rental sector in England.

Tenants would also be given the legal right to request a pet in their home and it would be made illegal for a landlord to refuse tenancies to families with children, or those in receipt of benefits.

The bill has been described as a “huge opportunity” by housing campaigners to improve the lives of the 11 million renters in England who currently face record rents.

Data from Hamptons shows that the average rent on a newly let home outside the capital increased by 7.8% annually to £1,002 in April, whilst the average rent in the capital now stands at a record £2,200 with the average monthly rent rising 11.1% year-on-year across Great Britain in April.

The most significant change in the bill is the abolishment of Section 21 – a key piece of legislation which allows landlords to evict tenants without providing justification. Research from Shelter shows that nearly 230,000 private renters had been served with a no-fault eviction notice since April 2019.

The Conservative Party initially promised to ban the evictions in their 2019 election manifesto, however Housing Secretary Michael Gove has only just announced the plans. Mr Gove described the current rental market as “too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them.”

He stated that the government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering this new bill, which is one with quality, affordability and fairness at heart.

David Hannah, Chairman at Cornerstone Group International, discusses the current landscape of the rental market:

“The introduction of the Renters’ Reform Bill has been a long time coming and I think an important measure to add to the rental market. Renters are facing record rents all across the UK with affordability still being the main obstacle for people looking to buy a property – forcing more individuals to rent for longer. This has caused an increased demand in the rental sector, with some landlords hiking rents by up to 20% in some properties, which is effectively a no-fault eviction for renters that find themselves faced with this proposition.

By abolishing no-fault evictions, renters will have a better peace of mind and know that their landlord won’t be able to evict them immediately with no reason. This should hopefully take away a lot of the stress in renting and improve the connection and communication between renters and landlords which I think is lacking in the current rental market.”

Hannah thinks that the “rental market is filled with uncertainties at the moment, with rising rents making it less attractive from a renter’s standpoint and rising house prices making it less desirable for buy-to-let landlords to grow their portfolios” and he welcomes “the proposed changes of the renting rules, and agree tenants need protection”.

RICS also commented on the Renters’ Reform Bill:

“The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) supports the government’s goal of improving tenants’ protections and the quality of homes in the private rental sector. However, we remain concerned for tenants as to any knock-on effects, as our RICS Residential Survey shows rents continuing to rise alongside the supply of rental properties dropping.

The reforms, therefore, must be delivered in such a way that gives confidence to landlords and does not result in them leaving the sector, further exacerbating the challenges for tenants who are already struggling to find quality affordable homes.

Landlords have stressed to RICS that proposals must be backed by process changes including an improved court process to make it easier for them to take back a property in legitimate cases. The  creation of the new property portal  is welcome in that it will provide both tenants and landlords with valuable information, however it will require support from Government to get going.”

Propertymark’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, Timothy Douglas, also commented on the announcement of the Renters’ Reform Bill: 

“The UK Government’s proposed legislation on renters reforms will introduce significant changes to the private rented sector in England with the measures impacting landlords, tenants and letting agents.

Propertymark has provided advice and evidence to officials at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to inform the development of the proposals. We will provide briefings to parliamentarians as they consider the Bill’s contents during its passage through Parliament to ensure the measures are workable and evidence-based.

The measures will be introduced in stages and as the provisions are passed into law, we will support letting agents to understand the changes to ensure they are implemented successfully.”

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