Spotlight on The Renters’ Reform Bill…

The Government has published its long-awaited White Paper which they intend will bring about ‘a fairer private rented sector’.  The Paper promises tenants safety and security in their homes, and there is no doubt its’ changes will bring huge challenges for landlords too.

The piece of legislation has the potential to transform the way residential properties are currently let. The White Paper sets out the government’s long-term vision for the private rented sector and the plan includes such changes as:

  • Abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions and introduce a simpler tenancy structure.
  • Apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time.
  • Introduce a new Property Portal to help landlords understand their obligations.
  • Introduce a housing ombudsman covering all private rental sector landlords and providing redress for Tenants.
  • Giving all tenants the right to request a pet in their home, which a landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
  • Help the most vulnerable by outlawing blanket bans on landlords refusing to rent to families with children or those in receipt of benefits; and
  • Doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified

The Bill seeks to end the use of arbitrary rent review clauses, which will restrict tribunals from hiking up rent and enable tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes. This will allow tenants the ability to take their landlord to court to seek repayment of rent if their homes are of unacceptable standard

The Bill also proposes that all tenants to be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies, meaning they can leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change. A tenancy will only end if a tenant ends or a landlord has a valid reason, defined in law. However, the Bill does incorporate proposals to ensure responsible landlords can gain possession of their properties efficiently from anti-social tenants and can sell their properties when they need to.

By the introduction of this Bill the Government aims rebalance the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants.  They hope to drive up standards of rental accommodation so that everyone will know what is expected of them. As part of the bill, the government has also committed to improving court processes, which, we all hope will make processes simpler and easier to use for all concerned.

We can expect to see the Renters’ Reform Bill to be debated on and voted on before the Spring 2023 Parliamentary Session and we will be keeping a careful eye on these changes.

If you have any queries about this article please contact Angus Ashman on 0191 2267823 or Allison Thompson on 0191 2263719.

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