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Renter Reform Bill Picks up The Pace

Richard Blanco, a London-based portfolio landlord, comments

It has been rambling its way through Parliament like the Caribou wandering north to south across Canada in its annual migratory search for warmer climes. Finally, it looks like we might have the shape of the finished article. But with just a few months left until a general election, it could be a race to the finishing line.

Housing charities bemoaned the latest set of government amendments as placating a cabal of Conservatve landlord MPs and turning the bill into a landlords’ charter. Most property professionals saw the changes as sensible and balanced and many reflected the sentiments of Parliament’s very own Housing Select committee.

Let’s start by summarising how this important bill will change the lettings landscape in England. Fixed term assured shorthold tenancies will be replaced by periodic assured tenancies with no end date. They will roll on until the tenant gives two months’ notice or the landlord uses one of the Section 8 grounds of an amended 1988 Housing Act. Crucially this means the abolition of section 21, or so called no fault evictions.

Landlords and letting agents will not be allowed to operate blanket bans against families, applicants with pets or those in receipt of benefits.

Tenants must be given written tenancy agreements with some required clauses and landlords must be members of redress schemes aimed at resolving tenant complaints. Rent review clauses will be banned and landlords may only increase rents once a year using the existing section 13 procedure.

Privately rented properties will have to meet a Decent Homes Standard and let properties will need to be listed on a new property portal – effectively a mandatory register for landlords in all but name.

When the bill had its second reading in the House of Commons in October 2023, many of us thought it could attain Royal assent by Spring 2024. But the bill hit the buffers before Easter as it became clear that there was a sizeable minority of Conservative MPs who were unhappy with the bill in its form at that time. They have been placated with a clutch of government amendments many of which were championed by the National Residential Landlords Association. 

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