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What is the Renters Reform Bill and why is it being introduced?

The Renters Reform Bill is a huge piece of legislation that aims to reform the private rented sector and ‘bring in a better deal for renters.’ 

It was first introduced to Parliament in May 2023, and it included many proposals, such as banning Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions and starting an Ombudsman. 

This article explores what the Renters Reform Bill is, what is being proposed and how it is progressing. 

Summary 

  • The Renters Reform Bill aims to reform the private rented sector, with many proposals to improve tenants’ rights. 

  • The bill is undergoing a long parliamentary process before becoming law. 

  • Even after the Renters Reform Bill becomes law, it may take time for some proposals to come into force. 

  • If you’re looking for help with your money, a financial adviser can help.  

What is the Renters Reform Bill? 

First introduced to Parliament in May 2023 following a government white paper published in June 2022, the Renters Reform Bill aims to reform the private rented sector. 

There are many proposals within the bill, including banning Section 21 no-fault evictions and starting an Ombudsman.  

According to media reports, ministers have been discussing ‘watering down’ no-fault eviction proposals. There has been opposition to the bill from some MPs, many of whom are landlords.  

This debate among MPs means the bill is undergoing a long parliamentary process before it can become law.  

We’ll explore the proposals in detail and what amendments have been rumoured. 

Why is the Renters Reform Bill being introduced? 

The number of households occupied by private renters in England has more than doubled over two decades, from 2.03 million in 2000 to 4.6 million in 2023, according to Statista.  

There have been concerns that tenants don’t have enough security while renting due to no-fault evictions.  

The quality of rented accommodation has also come under scrutiny, with many homes failing to meet basic standards. 

Due to the size of the private rented sector, the government wants to expand existing legislation and strengthen renters’ rights. 

How is the Renters Reform Bill progressing, and has anything changed? 

Following the white paper in June 2022 and the announcement to Parliament in May 2023, there was a second reading in October 2023, where MPs debated the key principles of the bill. 

A huge change from the second reading was that the courts would need to be reformed before no-fault evictions could be abolished. 

In November 2023, the Renters Reform Bill was scrutinised by MPs. It was announced the Decent Homes Standard would be applied to the private rented sector, which sets minimum standards for social housing.  

It was also revealed that landlords would be banned from discriminating against tenants with children or on benefits. Significant changes for rent repayment orders (RROs) will also be introduced.  

A date is yet to be announced for the report stage of the Renters Reform Bill. 

A third reading will follow this before the bill goes to the House of Lords before receiving Royal Assent (it becomes law).  

The government plans to pass the Renters Reform Bill into law before the General Election later this year. However, not everything will come into force immediately, especially the no-fault eviction ban, which relies on the courts being reformed, as previously mentioned.  

Rumoured further amendments to the Renters Reform Bill include: 

  • Allowing ‘hearsay evidence’ in eviction claims linked to anti-social behaviour. 

  • A requirement for tenants to live in a property for at least four months before they can give notice to end their tenancy.  

The government is also planning a review to ‘reduce the burden on landlords.’ 

As nothing has been confirmed, there is a chance the Renters Reform Bill could change before going to the House of Lords.  

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What is being proposed as part of the Renters Reform Bill? 

There are many proposals under the Renters Reform Bill, which we detail below.  

Scrapping Section 21 no-fault evictions 

A no-fault eviction means a landlord doesn’t need a reason to evict you. They can do this if a no-fault eviction is in your contract and you’re on a periodic, fixed-term or converted standard contract. 

No-fault evictions are concerning for tenants, who may be worried about raising property issues because they fear being evicted without a legitimate reason. 

While no-fault evictions will be banned, there will be exceptions. If tenants are at fault, the bill aims to make it easier for landlords to evict them by reducing notice periods. 

A new property portal 

This would include a database of landlords and privately rented properties in England to prove their compliance with legal requirements. 

Landlords will likely be legally required to register with potential enforcement from local councils if they fail to do so.   

Making it illegal to discriminate against people on benefits or with children 

Landlords and estate agents would no longer be able to discriminate, including preventing viewings or putting ‘No DSS’ in adverts.  

Simplify existing tenancies 

This means fixed-term tenancies, where you have a fixed contract that moves onto a rolling one unless you leave, will move to rolling tenancies. 

A rolling tenancy has no fixed end date unless the tenant or landlord gives notice. 

Tenants must give two months' notice before moving, or a landlord can evict a tenant on repossession grounds, with notice. 

This may change to tenants having to live in a property for at least four months before giving notice.  

More rights for tenants with pets 

The bill would allow tenants to request to own a pet. Any requests must be confirmed or rejected within 42 days. 

Landlords can request an extra week if more information is needed but cannot unreasonably reject a request. 

To protect landlords, tenants must confirm they have pet insurance or are willing to cover reasonable costs if their pet causes any damage.  

Only one rent increase a year with two months’ notice 

Under the Renters Reform Bill, landlords can only increase rent once a year. They must also provide the tenants with two months’ notice before enforcing the price increase

If a tenant feels the increase is unfair, they can challenge this through a tribunal. 

A new Ombudsman  

A new Ombudsman has been proposed, which all private landlords must join.  

There will also be a redress scheme so any complaints against a landlord can be independently investigated. 

The Ombudsman will have many powers, including: 

  • Forcing landlords to apologise or take remedial action. 

  • Pay compensation of up to £25,000. 

  • Providing information.  

  • Reimbursing rent to tenants if their property doesn’t meet set standards. 

Applying the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector  

For the first time, the Decent Homes Standard will apply to the private rented sector, so there will be minimum housing standards that landlords must meet.  

Under this proposal, local councils will be given more power to force landlords to improve their properties, including fining them up to £30,000, issuing a banning order, or allowing tenants to claim back rent. 

New rent repayment order (RRO) rules  

A tenant or local authority can use an RRO to go to a tribunal if a landlord commits at least seven offences.  

If the tenant wins their case, the landlord must repay rent—and will be liable to pay up to two years’ worth, up from a year. 

The new RRO rules would include new offences, including if a landlord breaches Ombudsman rules or deliberately provides false information on the new property portal. 

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About the author
Lisa-Marie Voneshen is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of experience writing and editing content across various areas, including personal finance and investing.