Renters Reform returning to Parliament in a storm of criticism

The Leader of the House of Commons has confirmed the remaining stages of the Renters (Reform) Bill will take place on Wednesday 24 April 2024 with some key changes to the Bill brought forward. Whilst the UK Government has listened and reacted to some industry concerns, another chance has been wasted to effectively regulate property agents.

Big ben.jpg

Progress made on agent concerns

Propertymark has been in close contact with Housing Minister Jacob Young, MP and senior officials at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) about the next steps for the Bill and received advance notice of the amendments the UK Government has now tabled for the Commons Report Stage.

We are pleased to see that DLUHC has listened to our members’ concerns and campaigning and welcomes the changes around fixed-term tenancies and assessment of the county court possession system before abolishing Section 21.

Continued failure to act on regulation of property agents

Disappointingly, and despite growing momentum on this issue over recent months, confirmation has now emerged from questions in the House of Lords on 18 April 2024 that there is not enough legislative time to introduce the regulation of property agents into the Bill.

The answer was given by Baroness Swinburne, who went on to state that regulation would still be ‘looked at’ and key recommendations from Lord Best’s 2019 report would be taken forward at a later date.

Amendments will make key changes across the Bill


Establishing an initial minimum tenancy

In effect this will create a default fixed-term of six months in all contracts, mirroring a standard break clause in many existing contracts.

The original version of the Bill would have allowed tenants to end a tenancy with two months' notice at any point, which Propertymark has argued would lead to poor outcomes for both landlords and renters.

Broadening student possession grounds

A mandatory possession ground to allow landlords to evict students living together in an HMO has already been added to the Bill, but the UK Government will now ensure this applies to any property that is let to students as long as landlords write their intention to use the student possession ground into the tenancy agreement.

Undertake a review of council licensing schemes

To prevent duplication with the introduction of the new Property Portal, the UK Government will conduct a review of selective licensing and licensing of HMOs to reduce burdens on landlords.        

Review county court possession proceedings

The Lord Chancellor will be required to publish an assessment on barriers to possession and the readiness of the courts in advance of abolishing Section 21 for existing tenancies.

Committing to a review of implementation

The Secretary of State will be obliged to make sure an independent review of the new system is carried out and report to parliament on the effectiveness of new possession grounds and the impact of moving to periodic tenancies and abolishing fixed terms within 18 months of the measures being applied to existing tenancies. In addition, an annual parliamentary update on the state of the private rented sector – including data on the supply, size and location of properties - will be provided.

Throughout the passage of the Bill, Propertymark has worked hard to highlight the importance of retaining fixed-term tenancies and the need for improvements to the court system if the abolition of Section 21 is to work. Whilst these amendments show that Ministers have listened to our concerns there are still areas that need further clarity.

We are continuing to engage with officials at DLUHC, the Minister and Parliamentarians as the Bill moves to its next stage.

Timothy Douglas Serious.jpg
Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark