Renters Reform moves to Lords as sector calls for certainty

The long-delayed Bill included over 200 amendments as it returned to the House of Commons for its Report Stage and Third Reading on 24 April 2024. Having been voted through by MPs it will now move to the Upper House, with Housing Secretary Michael Gove MP controversially stating that it’s up to the House of Lords to decide how quickly the Bill can become law.

Lettings agent's let board

Despite criticism from renters’ groups that protections for tenants had been watered down, Jacob Young, MP, stated that the Bill strikes a fair balance, further commenting that measures that were bad for landlords would not be good for tenants. 

Section 21 and the court system

The ban on no-fault evictions has been the most high-profile aspect of the Bill since it was first announced and continues to dominate the mainstream press coverage. The Bill now requires an assessment of the readiness of the courts before Section 21 can be abolished.

Young said that the courts must be ready, or tenants will not benefit from the changes to eviction rules, adding that the UK Government has already allocated £1.2 million for the Courts and Tribunals service to deliver a new end-to-end online possession service.

When questioned by Clive Betts, MP, Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, Young rejected the idea of a dedicated housing court, saying that the judiciary did not support this approach.

The Minister also stated that the UK Government was looking at whether serious eviction cases such as those involving anti-social behaviour can be prioritised and will explore options for doing this after the Bill has gained Royal Assent.

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14 Dec 2023
County Courts are failing on possessions cases

Selective licensing is likely to stay

Young indicated that there is no plan to scrap HMO or selective licensing after the Bill is introduced. Instead, it is intended that they will be used differently to target specific local issues.

To prevent duplication with the new Property Portal, the UK Government will conduct a review of the licensing regime, claiming they will look to reduce burdens on landlords.       

More work to do on fixed terms

The latest amendment has improved the picture for student lets. If it’s made clear at the start of a tenancy, and all the residents of a property are students, landlords will be able to use the student possession ground to evict tenants in line with the academic year. This will apply to any property, not just HMOs. 

Propertymark is, however, disappointed to see the proposed amendment from Anthony Mangnall MP overlooked, which would have allowed a fixed-term contract to be agreed between landlords and tenants on an individual basis.

We have long argued that a fixed term allows security of tenure for the tenant and a guarantee of rent payments for the landlord. For tenants with low income or poor credit history, the fixed term allows a guarantor to be confident about the length of time they are signing up to support them. The complete removal of this option is likely to impact more vulnerable tenants the most.

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15 Mar 2024
Propertymark outlines the importance of protecting fixed-term tenancies

The Bill faces more challenges in the Lords

Matthew Pennycook, MP, Shadow Housing Minister responded by saying that the Bill is no longer fit for purpose and must be re-balanced in favour of tenants. He claimed it will still allow the minority of disreputable landlords to exploit tenants and jeopardise their security of tenure. 

Labour intends to continue to press for many of the amendments they tabled in the Commons committee which the UK Government rejected. These include increasing the minimum notice period for de facto no-fault possession grounds from two months to four months, removing ground 8a for repeated rent arrears, prohibiting rental bidding wars, and extending Awaabs Law to the PRS.

Working for our members

Propertymark has actively engaged with MPs about the content of the Bill, responded to the consultation, and given evidence to parliamentary committees throughout its progress so far.

The legislation must help to increase the supply of homes to rent and Propertymark will continue this work with MPs in the Lords, championing the role of property agents and ironing out further unintended consequences to ensure the legislation works in practice for all.

The Renters (Reform) Bill has been strengthened since it was first introduced but still misses the mark in providing the right level of fairness and flexibility for landlords and tenants and improved competency standards for letting agents. 

It is disappointing that the UK Government continue to not recognise the benefit of allowing tenants and landlords to enter a fixed term tenancy where it is mutually beneficial to both parties. This will impact large parts of the market including students who rent. 

The legislation as a whole must help to increase the supply of homes to rent and not reduce the number, so Propertymark will continue to push for measures as the Bill goes to the House of Lords. It is important that it maintains the flexibility and choice that the private rented sector has provided over recent decades. The consequences of not doing so would be detrimental to landlords, tenants and agents alike.

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Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark
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Renters (Reform) Bill

The Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 17 May 2023 and sets out the UK Government’s plans to deliver on the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitment to reform the private rented sector in England.