Eleven million tenants across England will benefit from safer, fairer and higher quality homes thanks to a once-in-a-generation overhaul of housing laws.
The Renters’ (Reform) Bill, introduced to Parliament today (17 May 2023), delivers the government’s 2019 manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions which will empower renters to challenge poor landlords without fear of losing their home.
The new Bill also protects over 2 million landlords, making it easier for them to recover properties when they need to – so they can sell their property if they want to, move in a close family member, or when tenants wilfully do not pay rent. Notice periods will also be reduced where tenants have been irresponsible – for example breaching their tenancy agreement or causing damage to the property.
This builds on the strong progress this government has already made over the last decade to increase protections for tenants, including giving councils stronger powers to drive criminal landlords out of the market by introducing Banning Orders through the Housing and Planning Act 2016; and shielding tenants from excessive deposits and fees through the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
The reforms will strengthen powers to evict anti-social tenants, broadening the disruptive and harmful activities that can lead to eviction and making it quicker to evict a tenant acting anti-socially.
To ensure the new tenancy systems works for landlords and tenants, it will be introduced alongside a reformed courts process. For the minority of evictions that do end up in the courts, more of the process will be digitised – reducing delays.
A new Ombudsman will provide quicker and cheaper resolutions to disputes, while a new digital Property Portal will enable landlords to understand their obligations and help tenants make better decisions when signing a new tenancy agreement. This will give confidence to good landlords, while driving the criminal minority out of business.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove said:
Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them.
This government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a new deal to those living in the private rented sector; one with quality, affordability, and fairness at its heart.
Our new laws introduced to Parliament today will support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants, while delivering our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions.
This will ensure that everyone can live somewhere which is decent, safe and secure – a place they’re truly proud to call home.
Tenants will also be given the legal right to request a pet in their home, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. Landlords will be able to require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property.
The government will also bring forward legislation as part of the Bill to:
- Apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time, giving renters safer, higher quality homes and remove the blight of poor-quality homes in local communities. This will help deliver the government’s Levelling Up mission to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030.
- Make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children – ensuring no family is unjustly discriminated against when looking for a place to live.
- Strengthen councils’ enforcement powers and introduce a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity – to help target criminal landlords.
The Bill is a key part of the government’s mission to level up across the country and follows the wider housing reforms in the Social Housing Regulation Bill and Building Safety Act. These address the systemic issues identified following the Grenfell Tower tragedy on improving the safety and quality of social housing and how tenants are treated by their landlords.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com said:
We have long needed a statutory single private rental Ombudsman – so I’m pleased to see it in the legislative plans. After all, disputes are often between two individuals – landlord and tenant – rather than between companies, so it can be very personal and difficult to sort. Crucially, it won’t be voluntary, all private landlords will be required to join the Ombudsman, and it will have legal authority to compel apologies, take remedial action and pay compensation.
Dan Wilson Craw, Acting Director, Generation Rent, said:
The Renters’ Reform Bill is a huge opportunity to improve the lives of the 11 million people who now rent from private landlords in England. Arbitrary Section 21 evictions make it impossible for tenants to put down roots and report problems about their home with confidence. Abolishing them will take away much of the stress of renting and improve communication and trust between tenants and landlords. The new Property Portal and Ombudsman have the potential to make it much harder for criminal landlords to operate.
These reforms wouldn’t be happening without the tireless campaigning of members of the Renters Reform Coalition and thousands of renters over many years. We look forward to reading the Bill and working with ministers and parliamentarians to make sure the legislation achieves what it sets out to do.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said:
We welcome the government’s pledge to ensure landlords can swiftly recover properties from anti-social tenants and those failing to pay their rent. Plans to digitise court hearings will also improve the speed at which legitimate possession cases are processed.
The NRLA will continue to work with the government to ensure the detail of the Bill is fair for responsible landlords and tenants alike.
Michael Webb, Head of Policy & Public Affairs, Battersea Cats & Dogs Home, said:
Tenants being unable to find anywhere to rent with their pet is sadly one of the most common reasons people bring their animals to Battersea. Not only will this Bill bring us one step closer to significantly reducing the number of dogs and cats we see being needlessly separated from their owners, it will also open up the many joys of pet ownership to millions of renters in the future. As this Bill now begins its journey through Parliament, we look forward to continuing to work with the Housing department, tenants and landlords to help ensure a fairer rental sector for pets and people alike.
Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Propertymark said:
Reforms to the private rented sector in England have been long awaited and the Bill will bring much needed clarity to letting agents, their landlords and tenants. Propertymark will support the UK government to ensure the specific details work in practice for those on the ground, whilst providing both security and fairness for both parties of the rental agreement. It is also important implementation is well planned and managed as these reforms are significant for the sector.