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Renters (Reform) Bill back in Commons for final stages

The Renters (Reform) Bill seeks to bring about multiple reforms to the Private Rented Sector, most notably the end of ‘no fault’ evictions. It returns to the House of Commons this week (Wednesday  24th April 2024) for the last time with a few proposed amendments.

 

What is the Renters (Reform) Bill?

The Renters (Reform) Bill seeks to bring about several reforms to the Private Renter Sector through legislative change. Key aspects of the Bill include:

 

Abolition of ‘no fault’ evictions – this would end Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, which allows landlords to repossess their properties without establishing a fault on the part of the tenant.


Ending fixed-term tenancies – tenants would no longer be subject to contracts stipulating a certain tenancy length (e.g. for 12 months). These would be replaced with ‘periodic’ tenancies which would effectively be 2-month rolling tenancies.


Stronger grounds on which landlords can repossess their properties – new grounds for repossession would be created for landlords who wished to sell their property or to move themselves or a family member into the property.


Other notable aspects include the introduction of a Private Rented Sector Ombudsman, limiting rent increases to once a year and introducing a right for tenants to request a pet.


The proposed amendments

The Bill has received many proposed amendments throughout its parliamentary process. Most of these have been rejected by the Government. However, several Government amendments will be considered before the Bill’s final reading in the House of Commons, including:


Assessment of the ‘readiness of the courts’ before Section 21 removal. In response to concerns about the preparedness of the courts to process cases arising out of the legislative change, the Government would assess the courts’ ability to deal with any fall-out from no fault evictions being abolished.


Tenants to give 6 months’ notice before ending tenancies. As the Bill stands, tenants would only need to give 2 months’ notice. However, there are concerns that this would lead to unreliable letting periods and that a notice period of 2 months could lead to properties being used for short-term lets.


Strengthening grounds on which student landlords can repossess properties. Student landlords would be able to regain possession of their properties before the next academic year so long as they give 2 months’ notice, require possession between 1 June and 30 September, and let an HMO exclusively to students.

 

In addition to these notable Government amendments, Labour’s shadow housing spokesperson Matthew Pennycook has added an amendment that would require landlords to wait for 2 years after a tenancy has started before being able to sell or move back into the property.


What next?

Following consideration of these amendments during the Bill’s ‘report stage’, the Bill will pass onto its third reading in the House of Commons (which usually immediately follows the report stage). The Bill will then go through a similar multi-stage process in the House of Lords where it may undergo further amendments. These amendments would then need to be agreed by the House of Commons before the Bill could become Law.


Unless the Government decides to fast-track the legislative process (which would require the agreement of Peers), the legislation is likely to take many more months before coming into effect.

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