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Renters (Reform) Bill labelled a ‘failure’ on its return to Parliament

The Bill is finally set to return to the House of Commons today to receive its third reading, where industry experts have explained a lot of work needs to be done.

Back in 2019, the Renters (Reform) Bill was proposed in a bid to axe section 21 notices, which give landlords the power to evict their tenants on short notice.  So far, the new legislation has been ineffective as a result of delays in Parliament, which have caused more people to be cast out of their homes. Recent figures from housing charity Shelter, found the number of households evicted by bailiffs rose by 39% last year.

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However, the Bill was published in May 2023 and is finally due for its second reading in the House of Commons today. But despite progress, various industry experts have claimed major revisions need to be completed before it is made into law.

Darren Baxter, principal policy advisor at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), said: ‘As it stands the Renters (Reform) Bill prioritises placating landlords and backbenches over strengthening tenants’ rights. The Renters’ Reform Coalition is right to highlight the serious inadequacy of the Bill, which has been repeatedly watered down. While its primary aim has been to end no-fault evictions, it offers no clear timeframe or commitment as to when this will be done, reneging on promises made to renters over five years ago.’

The Renters Reform Coalition, which is made up of 20 leading organisations – one of them being the JRF – was created to ensure the new Bill favours tenants’ rights over private landlords’.

Darren added: ‘There is still time to do the right thing. Ministers must table amendments to the Bill that reverse the delay to ending Section 21 or no-fault evictions. The Bill must also limit in-tenancy rent increases to the lowest of either inflation or wage growth to prevent landlords from pricing tenants out of their homes.’

Echoing a similar tone, Anthony Kyriacou, CEO and founder of Krispyhouse, has claimed that currently, the Bill is failing the UK rental market.

‘Despite the plethora of amendments suggested by government MPs and the Labour Party, the Bill in its current state still does not strike the right balance between the interests of landlords and tenants,’ Anthony said. ‘The intention is noble, to give tenants better security of tenure, more certainty over their future in a tenanted property, while trying to ensure the Bill does not make the private rental market so unattractive that landlords don’t continue to leave the market as they have been doing for the past few years.’

Anthony continued: ‘Now spanning more than 112 pages and set for a second reading in the Commons [today], the Bill still fails in its purpose to streamline the needlessly complex property market, while also not meeting the real needs of both tenants and landlords. As drafted, I fear that more landlords will decide to leave the market, leaving tenants in a worse position as stock diminishes, prompting a further rise in rents.’

As well as looking to abolish no-fault evictions, the Bill will also mean tenants won’t be able to give two months’ notice leave until they have been in a property for at least four months. Student housing will also be given a new ground for possession to ensure landlords can retain the annual cycle of tenants.

Despite apprehensions, Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association has said that the introduction of the Bill is great news.

‘This Bill delivers a fair deal for tenants and responsible landlords. In the interests of certainty for the sector it is now time to ensure the Bill passes through Parliament,’ Ben said. ‘For renters, the Bill will abolish section 21 repossessions and fixed term tenancies, introduce a Decent Homes Standard for the sector, a new Ombudsman and Property Portal which landlords will have to join as well as measures to protect families and those in receipt of benefits from discrimination.’

Although, with this being said, Ben also noted that ‘the tenant group, Generation Rent, has rightly warned that landlords selling properties is ‘a leading cause of homelessness.’

Ben said: ‘The only answer to this is ensuring responsible landlords feel confident enough to stay in the market. Greater security for tenants will mean nothing if the rental homes are not there in the first place.’

Image: Heidi Fin

More on this topic:

Eviction rates surge as government reforms stall again

Biggest landlord MPs in push to gut renters’ reform


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