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Renters Reform Bill – The devil is in the detail

Renters Reform Bill – The devil is in the detail

Andrew Luxton MRICS FARLA, partner in charge of Stags Residential Lettings, comments on the second reading of the Renters Reform Bill.

The long-awaited Renters’ Reform Bill, introduced by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, finally entered its second reading on the 17th May.

Its publication has been met with a large welcome, but mixed reactions. The Bill, all 89 pages, contains many of the expected reforms which have been widely publicised over recent months. It has crystallised plans to abolish the Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction and provides detail on the upgraded Section 8 process to cover scenarios that most landlords would require, should they find themselves needing possession of their property back.

Andrew Luxton MRICS FARLA, partner in charge of Stags Residential Lettings, comments “As always, the devil is in the detail which will be coming out over the next few weeks and months. The first reading in Parliament is just the first stage, and it is likely that the time period before any aspect of the bill becomes law, will be a further 9 to 12 months.

In addition, following various readings in Parliament, The Lords and the Committee stage, there will be amendments and changes. Until the finer detail is forthcoming, it is hard to comment fully or advise Landlords as to how it will affect them. The measures will be introduced in stages and as the provisions are passed into law, we will support landlords to better understand these changes to ensure that they are implemented successfully.

Proposals must be backed by process changes including an improved court process to make it easier for landlords to take back a property in legitimate cases. The creation of the new property portal is welcome in that it will provide both tenants and landlords with valuable information. However, it will require support from the Government to get going. Homes of a good standard, benefit all parties, and we welcome the move to improve the quality of homes in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). However, we would like to see joined-up thinking between new Energy Efficiency measures and decent homes, so that landlords can plan for the introduction of both, and so that tenants know what to expect.

There are really positive steps to celebrate here when it comes to tenants’ rights and we’ve seen some softening of areas that were giving landlords major concerns, such as the ability to evict anti-social tenants or those who consistently miss rental payments. But, we can’t hope to sustainably reform and strengthen the lettings industry without meaningfully addressing the structural issues facing the market.

The Government should not see the publication of this legislation as a job done. It should be the first step in a longer line of urgent changes that are needed to address the issues in the PRS to include the shortage of available housing. A healthy rental market requires empowered, protected tenants as well as fair-minded, incentivised landlords in order to function. Any legislation that addresses one, without the other, won’t make the difference it needs to.”

In practice, we do not believe the proposed Bill will change the relationship between the vast majority of landlords and tenants and the overall impact will be minimal. As we learn more, will keep informing our landlord clients accordingly and continue to lobby government to ensure positive amendments are made.


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