The Renters (Reform) Bill of 2023 is set to revolutionize the rental market, bringing about significant changes aimed at increasing security and stability for tenants, improving compliance and enforcement, delivering safe and decent homes, and creating a more positive renting experience. Let’s take a closer look at the key messages conveyed by this bill.
Please note that this bill is currently undergoing the ‘Second Reading’ stage in the House of Commons, which means that it is subject to potential changes and amendments. It will need to be agreed upon by the House of Lords before it can be passed into law.
Increasing Security and Stability
The bill proposes converting Assured Shorthold Tenancies into Periodic Assured Tenancies, ensuring greater security for tenants. Landlords will need valid grounds for possession, and tenants will have the right to serve two months’ notice aligned with their rent period to end a tenancy. Moreover, the bill prohibits the marketing of a property for sale during the first six months of any new tenancy.
The replacement of Section 21 notices with additional possession grounds gives landlords the ability to gain possession of their properties through a Section 8 notice, provided they meet the criteria of the new possession grounds. These grounds cover various situations, including when landlords or close family members want to move in, when a landlord wishes to sell their property, and when the tenant is at fault for issues such as persistent arrears or disruptive behavior.
Annual Rent Increase Review
Under the bill, landlords will have the ability to increase the rent annually in line with market rents. While the industry might encourage this to become the norm, rent increases will be managed through a Section 13 notice procedure. If a tenant believes the rental increase to be unreasonable, they will have the right to challenge it, and the case will be heard by the First Tier Tribunal, ensuring fairness and balance.
Introducing Better Compliance and Robust Enforcement
To ensure better compliance and enforcement, the bill proposes the establishment of a private rented sector database. Landlords will be required to enter their property details on the database before marketing them for rent. This initiative aims to provide critical information to tenants, landlords, and local authorities, enabling landlords to better understand their responsibilities and allowing tenants to access information about their landlord’s compliance. Local councils will also benefit from improved data to crack down on rogue landlords, promoting better enforcement and protection for tenants.
Delivering Safe and Decent Homes
The bill aims to implement the Decent Homes Standard (DHS) in the private rented sector. By ensuring that privately rented homes meet the DHS, tenants will enjoy safer and higher-quality living conditions. This move aligns with the government’s goal of halving the number of non-decent homes by 2030. Additionally, council enforcement powers will be strengthened, enabling them to monitor and target rogue landlords more effectively.
Implementing a Landlord Redress Scheme
The bill proposes the implementation of a reformed court process, leveraging digitization to reduce delays in resolving disputes. We do, however, await further ‘concrete’ details on this process. Furthermore, the bill introduces a landlord redress scheme, making it mandatory for landlords to join. Landlords will need to register with the appointed ombudsman before marketing their property, and failure to join the scheme may result in enforcement action by local councils.
Creating More Positive Renting Experiences
The Renters (Reform) Bill 2023 also focuses on promoting inclusivity and fair treatment. It aims to make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants receiving benefits or those with children. This ensures that no family suffers discrimination when seeking a place to live. The bill also grants tenants the right to request a pet in their rental property, with landlords being required to consider such requests and provide reasonable justifications for refusal. To cover any potential pet damage, landlords can request tenants to buy pet insurance, subject to an amendment of the Tenant Fee Act 2019 – landlords will be able to refuse tenants with pets that do not take insurance.
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