What is The Renters Reform Bill and will it work for tenants and landlords?

The Renters Reform Bill

This month The Renters Reform Bill was brought to Parliament. The government now needs to pass this bill into law – something that is pledged to take place before the next General Election in late 2024.

Government says The Renters (Reform) Bill will improve the system for the 11 million private renters and 2.3 million landlords in England.

The Bill promises to:

  • Abolish section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and move to assured, periodic tenancies, abolishing fixed-term tenancies. This means tenants will need to give two months’ notice if they wish to leave but will not have 6-month or 12-month rent liabilities as under fixed-term tenancies. Government may amend this so that landlords can retain fixed-term contracts in the student sector.
  • Introduce more comprehensive possession grounds so landlords can still recover their property (including where they wish to sell their property or move in close family) and to make it easier to repossess properties in cases of anti-social behaviour and repeat rent arrears;
  • Provide stronger protections against backdoor eviction by ensuring tenants are able to appeal excessively above-market rents which are purely designed to force them out. As now, landlords will still be able to increase rents to market price for their properties and an independent tribunal will make a judgement on this, if needed.;
  • Introduce a new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman that which will provide fair, impartial, and binding resolution to many issues and prove quicker, cheaper, and less adversarial than the court system;
  • Create a Privately Rented Property Portal to help landlords understand their legal obligations and demonstrate compliance (giving good landlords confidence in their position), alongside providing better information to tenants to make informed decisions when entering into a tenancy agreement.
  • 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.

Further reforms promised are:

  • Apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector
  • Make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children –
  • Strengthen local councils’ enforcement powers and introduce a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity – to help target criminal landlords.

This Bill is now on its passage through Parliament and, as previously stated, is expected to come into force by the next General Election.

Views vary on the effectiveness of the Bill.

Thanet council’s deputy leader Cllr Helen Whitehead, who is also in charge of housing for the district, says despite the fanfare the removal of no fault evictions has just been replaced with strengthening of other powers.

She said: “The universal headlines are occupied by the abolition of Section 21 evictions, otherwise known as “no fault” evictions, where landlords are not required to give a reason as to why they are ending the tenancy.

“However, whilst removing Section 21, the government has also strengthened/expanded other grounds for eviction, to allow for eviction if the landlord is intending to live in the property, sell the property, or if behaviour is being exhibited that is “capable of causing” an ASB issue.

“Bluntly, Section 21 disappearing doesn’t warrant the significance that has been attached to this move, as the strengthening of powers in other areas to a large degree simply produces similar powers under a different name, and monitoring the legitimacy of given grounds is going to be an ongoing challenge.”

Welcome changes

However, she says there are elements of the Bill that are welcome – such as a responsibility on landlords to not “unreasonably” refuse pets – albeit with the proviso that landlords can require renters to take out pet insurance against damage.

Cllr Whitehead says she also welcomes: “ A move to periodic tenancies with two months notice (which can be waived if the tenant wishes to move earlier and the landlord agrees), once yearly rent reviews and no automatic rent increases, a property ombudsman to deal with complaints, a mandatory landlord register, and a six month period at the start of the tenancy where notice cannot be served, to increase stability for renters.”

Rent cap

But she highlights one measure that was not included that would have made a huge difference to those in private let accommodation -a rent cap.

She said: “This hasn’t been included in the Bill, although arguably it is the measure that could have made the most difference to eviction rates.

“In Thanet, we are seeing extraordinary rises in rent and in property purchase; partially fuelled by the areas sudden popularity, partially by the influx of individuals choosing to invest in property here as popularity rises, and partially due to the rise in short term rentals, which reduces overall availability and spurs investment purchases, which is increasing rent exponentially in certain parts of Thanet.

“The reality is that those who use property for rental income are now far more likely to only invest in short term rentals, which is likely to reduce property supply; and we are already seeing landlords with smaller numbers of properties selling up entirely in areas of increasing sales prices, such as Thanet.

“This simply puts those properties on the open market, to usually be bought as investment properties or short term rentals/Airbnb. For many Thanet residents, buying one of those properties on Thanet wages is simply out of reach.”

‘Glaring holes’

Cllr Whitehead says the Bill is “messy” with “glaring holes” such as omission of the rent cap, the lack of a Decent Home Standard as exists in the social rented sector and lack of solid protections for those on benefits/with children..

She added: “We are assured that the Decent Home Standard and the protections issues will be addressed at a later date; however, I’m not really clear as to why the choice has been made to develop that legislation separately, as the logical thing would be to include those protections within the Bill, if you genuinely want to address those issues.”

Fewer properties

Cllr Whitehead says she believe in the short term there will be fewer properties available for long term rental, rent rises as a result of that lack of availability, and the use of expanded powers/grounds to evict instead of Section 21, rather than a decrease in evictions overall.

This combination would put further pressure on council housing services which are already struggling with demand, and enforcement which will also fall to local authorities without extra resources being likely.

She added: “I  believe that the best way to balance the external rental market is by internal means; building council houses at a sufficient rate to balance market pressures and keep private rents manageable.”

Craig Mackinlay

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay, who is a landlord, has also expressed concerns but in terms of whether Section 21 is actually used to evict for ‘no reason.’ Despite focusing on the Bill in a different way, he too agrees that strengthening of other powers  essentially replaces Section 21.

He said: “Whilst sounding entirely innocuous and positive for tenants, and I obviously support that, my experience is that s21 no-fault evictions on a whim are rarely used. Why would a rational Landlord – of which I’ll state clearly that I am one- evict a tenant merely because the abstract right to do so exists? The answer is they don’t.

“The reasons s21 has been used is as an alternative to court-led s8 evictions for non-payment of rent or anti-social behaviour. Evictions for these reasons and for the property to be taken back by the Landlord for sale will be made more explicit in this Bill so nothing changes there. My query is whether this Bill is attempting to solve a mischief that simply doesn’t really exist?

“My fear is that there will be a huge number of s21 evictions prior to the Bill becoming law as Landlords use the last chance saloon as they feel that the increasing number of rules and regulations loaded onto them is now too much.

“I’m not sure local authorities are ready for the housing demands upon homelessness claims that will be coming their way.”

The Bill has been broadly welcomed by homelessness and pet charities but concerns have been expressed by local authorities that they will not have resources for enforcement and some landlords have dubbed it a ‘rogue tenants charter.’ It is said that some 30 Tory MPs are set to oppose the legislation.

The Bill was first mooted in 2019. It had its first reading in the Commons on May 17 and the second reading the following day. It  must now pass through multiple stages in the House of Lords and the House of Commons before making it into law and could be at risk of being watered down before reaching the final stage.


  1. In reply to Craig MacKinley: “no fault” evictions are carried out by landlords because, once they’ve got rid of pesky tenants, they can re let the premises as Air B&Bs, and make much, much more money.

  2. The changes won’t help tenants one bit and will encourage more landlords to sell up. The overall effect of the bill will mean that moving forwards rents will increase to cover the greater uncertainty as to time scales to gain possession.
    The “ no fault” eviction tag is disengenuous, sec21 is a mandatory possession and so used the most as its the easiest, the vast majority of evictions will have a valid reason behind them. The bill suggests that the court system will be improved for possession on other grounds but there is no detail and seems unlikely it’ll happen.
    The result will be landlords increasing rents ( just look at rightmove for rents on new tenancies, 2 beds now start at 850), guarantors will be required in just about every case. The local market rent is already way above LHA so if a tenant gets a huge rent increase any appeal is likely to fail in light of current rents.
    If landlords are forced to accept pets, landlords with flats will need to be exempted from responsibility for flea infestations and the council needs to be dealing with noise complaints promptly. What happens when other tenants in a block have allergies or phobias , religious norms etc ?
    Last lot of fleas cost me 2500 to get rid of ( this includes the extended void whislt treatment was on going).
    Decent homes standard is no problem , but will the private landlord have the costs covered by the taxpayer ( the social sector received 40 billion )of course it won’t so for some rents will rise.
    The council has more than enough powers it can use HHSRS being the most useful , but councils don’t like it as it has a statutory duty to act in the event of class 1 hazards, invariably this means an initial cost to the council and so they choose not to do assessments.
    There’s most definitely a lack of housebuilding, but given our rates of migration we’ll never build fast enough, people don’t want more houses in their area, and social housing needs subsidy from the taxpayer and in addition new build social housing can’t be rented at traditional council rents unless further subsidised by the state. A couple of statistics that don’t get much publicity
    Over 60% of social housing properties are occupied by workless households
    Over the last 20 years social housing has been responsible for 80% of evictions.
    Social housing costs the taxpayer more than the private rented sector.
    These reforms will trap many tenants in existing tenancies as they’ll never be able to move on with the current market rents. If the energy efficiency improvements currently proposed go ahead rents will soar yet again.
    For the record
    I’ve never evicted a tenant in 26 years
    My current average tenancy is over 8 years
    I’ve 4 tenants with me for over 15 years
    All my properties are epc C rated
    All my rents are under those advertised on rightmove by at least 150pcm.

    The majority of private landlords are the same, the criminal landlords need dealing with, there is plenty of legislation for councils to do so. Private landlords have better tenant satisfaction surveys than the social sector, grenfell, lakanal, deaths from mould all in the social sector. TDC had how many properties with no gas safety certificates a few years back? By all means play to the baying mob, but its the tenants that will bear the brunt of the changes.

    The rise of air bnb is largely another side effect of the anti landlord rhetoric/ legislation.

  3. I always find Lc’s contribution very factual and well researched. A most interesting read, from an experienced landlord.

  4. As a long term privately rented tenant with the same landlord for well over 30 years I do feel sorry for all those other long terms who are being booted out of their homes so the landlord can sell to those developers who convert the properties into unregulated Airbnb’s. Many of these residents cannot find suitable alternative privately rented accommodation locally in the dwindling supply and are having to move well out of the area because the waiting list for social housing is years long. Many (mostly single males), are becoming homeless in the area. Unless TDC do something radical and provide accommodation this will not change. The changes going through parliament are not going to safeguard local private tenants in the Airbnb trend. I do not have an answer to stop the no fault evictions on good tenants but can see the continuous heavy increase in population is not helping the situation one bit. Maybe TDC taking over the old empty student accommodation at Broadstairs for the homeless might have helped !!

    • There are a lot of issues at play in the current situation. Tenants who have had long term rentals such as yourself are often going to have landlords who are approaching retirement. They may well have continued into retirement where they had good relationships with long term tenants.
      However in recent years the private rented sector has altered hugely, the legislative burden has grown seemingly without pause, the taxation of the sector is totally out of kilter with business norms, the uncertainty in respect of energy efficiency and taxation going forward are for many older landlords issues that mean that the investment needed in their properties are not financially viable unless you can hold the property for at least 10 years , plus of course the sector is offered no certainty in respect of future legislation and taxation.
      Many landlords had built their businesses on the basis of reasonable rents and the cream being the capital gains on eventual sale decades later, these gains used to be taxed with indexation for inflation, this was changed to a system that rewarded keeping homes for the long term ( taper relief) , now these have been removed and an additional rate of cgt applied to redidential investment property, ( effectively retrospective taxation on decisions made many years earlier) as a result for some sort of certainty it now makes sense for landlords to charge market rents and take profits each year rather than gamble on uncertain retrospective taxation, so yet again its the tenants paying for policy. But it appeases the crowd ( who generally aren’t affected by the changes) so politically expedient.
      As a result many decide it’s time to exit the sector. The same factors mean that the prs ( as the government and society in general has wanted) is no longer particularly attractive for residential investors, which leaves owner occupiers of the bnb brigade as potential buyers. Short term holiday lets obviously take a permanent home out of the market and in general owner occupied property has a lower occupancy density than rented property so you again have an overall loss of numbers housed ( a fact that the “the house doesn’t disapear someone will live in it brigade” choose to ignore in their anti landlord crusade), the upshot is that those displaced are looking for a new tenancy in an ever shrinking market. As mentioned single males are often those most disadvantaged as they’ll have next to no chance of accessing social housing as they usually end up bottom of the pile under the “needs based” allocation system.
      It’s also generally not realised that many developments depended on the “off plan” sales of investors to provide financial security for the developments to be built, now that that source of income has been reduced developers are finding it harder to finance their builds and so again supply is constrained.
      The private rented sector has been painted as the villain in a country that has failed to build enough homes for decades whilst simultaneously having high levels of net inward migration, the problem was given a boost when the UK was the only country not to take a 7 year brake on eu freedom of movement in 2004 and so we were the only real option for the accession countries, from that point on the country was fighting a losing battle trying to match house building with population growth. A problem exacerbated by all governments since then underestimating the numbers coming here and so not trying to build homes to suit the real level of demand.
      This understating of the numbers of those arriving was also a way of fiddling the supposed levels of increased per capita gdp we were led to believe they contributed. Ie x% of gdp growth from y million migrants is easier to make sound positive than if it was actually 2y million. Plus of course it means funding for public services doesn’t need to be based on real demand either.
      All a terrible mess , using the most efficient form of rented housing provision as a scapegoat and running it into the ground hardly makes sense when there’s nothing to replace it. But it appeals to those who feel landlords are drowning in ill gotten piles of cash having been fed endless false narratives by the likes of generation rent and shelter ( an oxymoron if ever there was one as they’ve never put a roof over anyone and the policies they’ve championed are putting people out of homes they had, utterly bonkers) , plus of course it diverts attention from the parlous state of too many of the homes in the social sector and the cost it demands from the taxpayer.
      A private landlord will be providing their pension from the rents they charge, council houusing department staff get their pensions paid by the council taxpayer , which is another indirect subsidy for council tenants. There’s nothing wrong with that but it needs to be seen as part of the full picture.
      Last but not least, all this legislation is driven by a fixation on the landlords that don’t comply with current rules and an assumption that all tenants are perfect, perhaps a bit of balance where the actions of bad tenants is taken into account would be sensible , but it isn’t and so just as all landlords are being treated on the actions of the minority of poor landlords , landlords are being pushed to treating all tenants as if they’ll be problem tenants and so charge accordingly.
      It’s not going to work out well for anyone, landlords who are good at what they do will seek another way to earn a living and sell up, tenants will struggle to find new homes, councils will be under ever greater pressure, the tax payer will have to fund ever greater demands from councils for resources to deal with those needing housing.

  5. Whilst i’ve got the bit between my teeth.

    Rent controls/cap, it’s one of those wonderful notions but how do you determine what they should be? Labour under Gordon Brown bought in the “local housing allowance” and in an attempt to buy votes effectively increased thanets benefit level remts up by around 15% overnight. However it should also be noted that rents for a basic 2 bed property in 2000 were 450pcm ish, so in 23 years they’ve not quite doubled if you look at advertised rents for new lets. However compare that with the increase in house prices over the same period.

    Bring in rent controls and every landlord will raise rents to the level decreed ( meaning increases for those tenants currently paying less and rents will be increased at every opportunity allowed by the law) there’ll be no incentive to offer properties or maintain above the bare minimum mandated. Can you apply the same rent to a 2 bed conversion in cliftonville as a penthouse newbuild on the northforeland estate?

    Do you end up with properties offered on a similar basis to many council properties no floor coverings unless left by the previous tenant and no cooker?

    Many landlords only go to market rent when they have a property to relet , good tenants generally don’t get massive rent increases and most landlords will use the LHA amount as their baseline. But in itself LHA is aflawed concept which promotes rent increases which is why it’s been repeatedly frozen.

    One of TDCs reasons for introducing selective licencing in cliftonville was because the area had low house prices and low demand from people willing to live there. This obviously restrained rents . But now the area is being gentrified and improved house prices improving. (Alledgedly one of the remaining single house properties in Dalby Square sold for a million relatively recently) properties are being refurbished to better standards and so demand and rents increase , the council can’t have it both ways.
    Rent controls have been tried in various places across the globe and have hardly been a resounding success. It must also be noted that whilst there is much talk of rent control/ caps no one wants to put actual numbers on the table, if such numbers were suggested and controls proposed to parliament the number of properties going on the market would be enormous and so self defeating.

  6. Unfortunately the left depicts all landlords as Scrooges in spe. My tenants can expect a 5% increase in rents every 5 years. And when they send me their Christmas cards I know they’re well meant.
    I have wonderful handpicked tenants (including their pets). Handpicked, vetted, not imposed by penpushers. Including REAL refugees (not boatpeople escaping du pain, du vin et du Boursin), again, not imposed. It’s not because (these) people are on benefits that they are automatically bad tenants. Everybody needs a roof. Divorced dads, single mums, as long as lefty do-gooders don’t impose them on me. I pick them! My house, my choice!

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