The Renters (Reform) Bill | Top 20 Q&A for landlords

News at Howland Jones | 30/09/2023

Unsure what the Renters Reform Bill means for you? Our top 20 Q&A for landlords will give you some of the key information you need.

1) What is the Renters (Reform) Bill?
The government says the Renters (Reform) Bill will deliver on its commitment to bring in a better deal for renters.

2) Why is it needed?
The government says that tenants need more security than the current section 21 legislation allows to enable greater stability in children’s education, jobs and families and individuals putting down roots in local areas. Short notice, no-fault evictions disrupt this, it says.

3) What changes will impact me most?
The abolishment of ‘no fault’ evictions and the reform of landlord possession grounds are the two biggest changes. The bill will also legislate for reforms set out in the private rented sector white paper, published in June 2022.

4) How will it overhaul the tenancy structure?
The abolishment of section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions will also see a move to a simpler tenancy structure of periodic assured tenancies without an end date and will allow tenants to challenge poor practices and unfair rent increases without the fear of eviction.

5) Can I still evict tenants?
More comprehensive possession grounds will mean you are still able to repossess your property, such as when you want to sell or move close family in. It will also be easier to repossess when tenants might be exhibiting anti-social behaviour or have repeated rent arrears.

6) What timescales apply to eviction?
Tenants will be able to stay in their homes until they decide to end the tenancy by giving two months’ notice or you give a valid ground for possession. However, you can’t use grounds for moving in, selling or redevelopment within the first six months of the tenancy.

8) What are the reformed grounds for possession and their notice periods?
A list of reformed grounds for possession and their notice periods, which range from two weeks to two months or immediately for anti-social behaviour, has been produced and can be seen here.

9) How will the bill impact how I can increase rents?
Tenants will be able to appeal against what they see as excessively above-market rents designed to force them out in a backdoor eviction. You can still increase rents to market price for your properties however, and if needed, an independent tribunal will make a judgement on fairness.

10) What’s the process for increasing rents in the new system?
You can do this by completing a simple form which will be published on Gov.UK and then serving this to the client who will then simply pay on the next rent day if they accept the rent increase.

11) What if they dispute my rent increase?
They can dispute the increase by referring to a First-Tier Tribunal if they think it’s above market rate. This must be before the starting date of the next rent period and they must inform you.

13) Will tenants have the right to keep a pet in my property?
Tenants will have the right to request a pet and you must consider this request and not “unreasonably refuse”. Under amendments to the Tenant Fees Act 2019, you can demand pet insurance to cover property damage.

14) On what grounds can I reasonably refuse a pet?
In its additional guidance, the government says you will be required to fully consider all requests on a case-by-case basis but concedes that situations will arise where it will be reasonable to refuse, such as when your superior landlord prohibits pets.

15) What will the property ombudsman do?
A new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman will be introduced to provide fair, impartial and binding resolutions to issues that are quicker, cheaper and provide less conflict to resolve than the current court system.

16) How will that impact me?
It will be mandatory to join the Ombudsman which will allow tenants to seek redress for free where they feel you have failed to deal with a legitimate complaint. The Ombudsman will have the power to put things right.

17) What will the new portal do?
A Privately Rented Property Portal will be created which will help you to understand your legal obligations and demonstrate compliance. It will also provide better information to tenants.

18) What other changes were proposed in the private rented sector white paper that will impact me?
The government wants to bring forward legislation ‘at the earliest opportunity’ to apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector, make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children, and to strengthen local councils’ enforcement powers, particularly in targeting criminal landlords.

19) When will the Renters (Reform) Bill become law?
The Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023 and is now in its second reading stage. It normally takes around a year for a new bill to become a parliamentary act via royal assent. Although no date has been given, many expect it to apply from October 2024.

20) When will the changes be implemented?

The government says it will implement the new system in two stages after the bill has received royal assent. It 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. All existing tenancies will transition to a new system on the second implementation date which will be at least 12 months after the first.

At Howland Jones, we specialise in letting property within the East Midlands and have done so since 1999 so can answer all your questions as a landlord. We are here to help, so please get in touch; we’d love to speak to you. You’ll find our offices in the village of Measham, which  sits on the border of four counties, and is almost equidistant from Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Birmingham. We operate within a 20-mile radius of our base, giving us extensive knowledge of the local area.