15 Nov 2023
CIH welcomes government changes put forward to the Renters (Reform) Bill to crack down on rogue landlords, protect vulnerable residents and improve the decency and safety of homes for private tenants.
Head of policy and external affairs, Rachael Williamson, said:
“All renters should be able to live in decent, secure and affordable homes. The Renters Reform Bill is a once in a generation opportunity to level the playing field between landlords and tenants and to drive up protections and standards.
"We’re pleased to see the government introducing the important provisions committed to in its White Paper - applying the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector, making it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children, and strengthening local councils’ enforcement powers. As we identified in our submissions and evidence, these are an essential part of the framework.
"We will continue to work with our members and partners in examining the detail of the Bill as it progresses to ensure the new measures are workable and provide appropriate protections.”
The Government has tabled amendments to the Renters (Reform) Bill to make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to people who receive benefits or who have children – ensuring families aren’t discriminated against when looking for a home to rent and protecting the most vulnerable. Landlords will still be able to carry out referencing checks to make sure a tenancy is affordable and have the final say on who they let their property to. This will apply to England and Wales and will be extended to Scotland via a further amendment at Report Stage.
Alongside this, the Decent Homes Standard (DHS) will be applied to the private rented sector for the first time. The new standard will set a clear bar for what tenants should expect from their home ensuring it is safe, warm and decent. It will be set following further consultation and will help to meet the target of reducing non-decency in rented homes.
Local Authorities will be given new enforcement powers to require landlords to make properties decent, with fines of up to £30,000 or a banning order in the worst cases. Tenants will also be able to claim up to 24 months rent back through rent repayment orders up from 12 previously.
Councils will also be given stronger powers to investigate landlords who rent substandard homes, providing them with the tools they need to identify and take enforcement action against the criminal minority and help drive them out of the sector.
The amendments will now be considered at Committee stage for the Bill in the House of Commons, at which CIH has given evidence.
The wider reforms in the Bill represent an important change to housing laws to ensure that private tenants across England benefit from safer, fairer and higher quality homes. This includes a ban on ‘no fault’ (section 21) evictions to protect tenants and give them the security to call out poor standards without fear of losing their home. It also gives tenants a legal right to ask for a pet and creates a new Ombudsman to resolve issues with their landlords more quickly, as well as a new landlord portal.
The bill delivers on commitments made in government’s White Paper, A fairer private rented sector.