In a bid to establish a “healthy private rented sector”, the government introduced the Renters (Reform) Bill to Parliament on 17 May 2023. Ceri Giordmaina examines the changes proposed by the bill and how these will affect both landlords and tenants.
Abolishing section 21 “no-fault” evictions
The government plan to scrap “no-fault” evictions under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (as amended), which allows landlords to evict tenants without giving a reason. Doing so will provide greater security for tenants and enable them to challenge poor practices and unfair rent increases without fear of eviction.
Changes to the grounds for possession
With the removal of “no-fault” evictions, the government will introduce extensive changes to the grounds for possession. Despite doing away with “no-fault” evictions under section 21, the new grounds will still allow landlords to regain possession of their properties should they wish to sell or move in close family. The changes will also make it easier for landlords to repossess properties where tenants are at fault, for example, in cases of anti-social behaviour by tenants or tenants repeatedly being in arrears of rent.
The bill gives tenants a stronger ability to appeal excessively above-market rent increases, which landlords often use as a way to force them to vacate. Landlords will still be able to increase rent to the market price for their properties. However, before doing so, they must serve a notice on the tenant, and an independent tribunal will make a judgement on whether the increase reflects the market price, if needed.
Ending assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs)
Once the bill is passed, ASTs will become periodic tenancies with no end date. This means rental periods will be limited to 28 days or one month. Landlords will be strictly prohibited from attempting to create fixed-term tenancies and could face hefty penalties from local authorities if they are caught doing so.
The right to request pets
The bill will give tenants the right to request a pet in the property, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. To support this, landlords will be able to require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property.
When will the changes come into effect?
There is no current date for the bill to be passed, but it is likely to receive Royal Assent in spring 2024 and can be expected to come into force in the autumn of that year.
If you would like to discuss a matter relating to a residential tenancy, please contact Ceri Giordmaina at [email protected].
Disclaimer: The above is merely general guidance and should not be relied on as formal advice. We suggest you take professional legal advice before taking any action in relation to the issues discussed above.