Renter Reform Bill: “No fault” evictions and hidden consequences for the rental market?

The Renter Reform Bill has been published and aims to provide “safer, fairer and higher-quality homes’ for the 11 million tenants currently renting across the country. Here, Beyond Conveyancing Partner, Kevin Richardson looks at what the important changes that the bill brings.

The Government claims this ‘once-in-a-generation overhaul’ of housing laws brings several significant, positive changes. The Bill forms part of the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ strategy and is designed to dovetail with other housing reforms introduced following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The change making all the headlines is the abolition of the ‘no-fault’ ground for possession, which currently enables a landlord to end an assured shorthold tenancy on two months’ notice for any reason.

Few would argue the need for greater protection from landlords who seek to take advantage of vulnerable tenants. However, there is a concern that private landlords (already tired of unfavourable tax changes, high interest rates and new regulations) will decide that ‘enough is enough’ and look to sell up before the Bill becomes law. This may lead to a shortage of decent homes to rent at affordable rents at exactly the time when they are most needed, and may result in even higher rents in the private rental market (less supply = higher demand).

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Some other important changes announced include:

  • All tenancies must be periodic, so it will no longer be possible to tie a tenant in to a minimum term.
  • New landlord grounds to end a tenancy if they wish to sell their property or move in a new family member and a quicker and easier process to evict tenants for anti-social behaviour and repeated rent arrears.
  • A landlord will not be able to refuse consent unreasonably to a tenant’s request to keep a pet.
  • A landlord will only be able to increase rent once a year using the existing statutory process and a tenant will be able to challenge the increase in a tribunal.
  • A new database of residential landlords and privately rented properties and a new compulsory Ombudsman scheme to investigate and determine tenant complaints.

Only time will tell whether the proposed changes will deliver their stated goals or result in less affordable housing being available to the very people the bill is designed the help.

By Kevin Richardson