Renters Reform Bill enters parliament

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Dispute Resolution on Wednesday, May 24th, 2023

Since our previous update on imminent reforms to the private rented sector, events have moved apace. The Renters Reform Bill – touted by the government as the biggest shakeup of renters’ rights in a generation – has now been introduced to parliament. It has now been through its first reading and is due to undergo its second reading in the House of Commons in June, when MPs will be able to debate its main principles and express their views.

Whilst the highly anticipated Bill still has to make its long journey through parliament before becoming law, the government has reiterated its commitment to getting the new legislation in place as quickly as possible.

The main changes

  • Section 21 Agreements will be abolished

The controversial ‘no-fault eviction’ clause currently available to landlords under Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act, is to be abolished. Landlords will still have recourse to the statutory Section 8 process, which allows landlords to repossess their property in certain situations.

To read more about the abolition of Section 21 agreements and the Section 8 grounds for possession, please refer to our previous blog.

  •  Landlords will be obliged to join a mandatory ombudsman scheme

All landlords will have to join the new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman, which will allow tenants to seek free redress where a landlord has failed to address a ‘legitimate complaint’ associated with their tenancy.

The Ombudsman will be given a range of powers to address the issues brought before them, including:

  • Making landlords apologise
  • Providing information, training and support
  • Taking remedial action
  • Reimbursing rents
  • Ordering landlords to pay compensation of up to £25,000.

  • Landlords and tenants will have access to information and support through a new Private Rented Property Portal

The portal will offer support, guidance and training to help landlords understand and comply with their legal obligations, alongside providing better information to tenants to help them make informed decisions when entering into tenancy agreements. It will also offer enforcement support to local councils.

  • A new Decent Homes Standard will be introduced

In its 2022 whitepaper entitled ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’, the government stated that more than half a million rental properties are currently posing an imminent threat to tenants’ health and safety.

Hence its plans to introduce, for the first time, a Decent Homes Standard, setting out minimum legal standards that rental properties must achieve:

  • They must be ‘free from the most serious health and safety hazards’, including fall risks, fire risks, or carbon monoxide poisoning’
  • Kitchens and bathrooms should be correctly located, adequate and with decent noise insulation
  • Facilities shouldn’t be allowed to fall into serious disrepair and should be updated ‘before they reach the end of their lives’.

According to the whitepaper, 81% of rentals currently meet these criteria; landlords who don’t meet the Standards will be expected to fund repairs and remedial work to bring their homes up to scratch. They will also be expected to register their property on the new Property Portal, declare that their home meets the Standards, and list any exemptions for their property. Landlords who give false or misleading information can be fined up to £30,000.

  • Tenants will be able to request a pet in their property

Landlords must consider this request and cannot ‘unreasonably’ refuse. To protect landlords’ interests and minimise the impact of property damage, they will be able to require tenants to have pet insurance.

Keep following for more news and updates

We’ll be reporting any new developments that occur as the Renters Reform Bill makes its way through parliament, so please do check back for more information or keep an eye on our social media.

And, of course, please do get in touch with our Dispute Resolution specialists for information and advice on how the new legislation might impact you. Give us a call on 0330 221 8855 or email enquiries@attwaters.co.uk for more information.

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