20 Jul 2023

The Renters (Reform) Bill: Large changes to the private rented sector and the impact beyond

The Renters (Reform) Bill proposes some of the largest changes to the private rented sector in thirty years.

A more comprehensive what you need to know guide that you have exclusive access to as a CIH member is available and provides an overview of the measures and what we think of them.

We’ve also produced a parliamentary briefing to support MPs who will be considering the detail of the Bill as it passes through the House of Commons.

The Bill represents a significant step forward in levelling the playing field for private renters and includes:

  • The end of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and a move to a simpler tenancy structure where all assured tenancies are periodic
  • Introduction of more comprehensive possession grounds so landlords can recover their property
  • Stronger protections against backdoor eviction by ensuring tenants can appeal against excessively above-market rents designed to force them out
  • A new private rented sector Ombudsman that private landlords must join
  • A new privately rented property portal to help landlords understand their legal obligations and demonstrate compliance
  • The right for tenants to request a pet in the property, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.

However, we believe there are several areas where it should be amended to ensure it fulfils previous government commitments and guards against unintended consequences.

Impacts beyond the private rented sector

One of the measures introduced is the end of assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) which will affect housing associations (introductory tenancies will still be available for councils).

The majority of housing associations and council tenants already have long-term tenancies, but housing associations will no longer be able to use starter tenancies or ASTs for other reasons.

The main consequence of this is that where the landlord wants possession (almost always either rent arrears or anti-social behaviour (ASB) they will have to show that the ground is made out. Mandatory grounds for rent arrears and the new ASB grounds will still be available.

There may be some other consequences for certain situations where ASTs were used for good reason. For example, for use in short-life housing (typically properties that are subject to compulsory purchase order awaiting redevelopment or demolition for other reasons) or for specialist lettings (e.g. supported housing). In the latter, the tenancy vs licence distinction is unchanged so in cases where the landlord or support provider is providing intensive support, letting on a licence will still be available. (In our response to the government’s earlier consultation, we said retaining ASTs for use by social landlords in certain well prescribed and limited situations (such as short life) could prove valuable.)

We’ll be keeping members updated as the Bill progresses.  

For further information please email: policyandpractice@cih.org