Renters Reform Bill: How Michael Gove Plans To Clamp Down On Landlords

No-fault evictions are to be scrapped, and pets have to be considered by landlords.
Michael Gove, levelling up, housing and communities secretary, will be unveiling his renters' reform bill today in parliament
Michael Gove, levelling up, housing and communities secretary, will be unveiling his renters' reform bill today in parliament
Leon Neal via Getty Images

Michael Gove’s renters reform bill will be announced today in parliament – but just what is in it, and why is it such a big deal?

With 11 million people living in rented properties in the UK and two million landlords nationwide, the housing secretary has promised that the sector – which has doubled in the last two decades – will be transformed by his proposals.

The long-awaited bill comes three and a half years after the Conservatives included a manifesto pledge to change how renting works.

What’s in the renters’ reform bill?

1. Section 21 evictions scrapped

This is a landlord’s right to evict tenants without having to prove any fault, otherwise known as Section 21 notices.

The bill will make it so landlords have to show a specific reason for eviction. The county courts will then decide if the tenants should be evicted.

2. Tenants can be evicted on repeated serious rent arrears

The bill will close the loophole where tenants can avoid being evicted on rent arrears if they paid the arrears before a possession hearing.

3. Rent increase notice period goes up to two months

Before, it was only one month’s notice. The bill would also stop rent being increased more than once in a year.

4. ‘Fault-based evictions’ to be sped up

Rent arrears and anti-social behaviour evictions will be fast-tracked under the new system, which will include a digitised court process.

5. Property Ombudsman

There will be a new ombudsman to speed up decision-making in disputes between all landlords and tenants while also making it cheaper to find resolutions.

6. Landlords have to consider pets

They will not be able to “unreasonably refuse” tenants with pets, although they can charge “pet insurance” to the renters in the event of damage.

7. Landlord portal

Tenants will be able to rate their landlords online and look at their letting history, while helping landlords understand their obligations to tenants.

8. ‘Decent home standards’ introduced

This is being applied for the first time to the private rented sector. It already applies to social housing.

9. It will be illegal for a ban on tenants on benefits or families

Tenants can’t be rejected just because they have children or are on benefits as long as they can pay the rent.

10. Rolling tenancies

Tenancies will automatically continue instead of just being fixed, short term contracts.

11. Landlords will be able to evict anti-social tenants easily

The bill includes greater protection for landlords who want to move renters on so they can sell up the property, provide accommodation for a relative or because of the renters’ anti-social behaviour. Landlords also have reduced notice periods for “irresponsible” renters.

12. Strengthen councils’ enforcement powers

This is meant to help target criminal landlords.

What isn’t in the bill?

Reforms to the leaseholder system – which Gove described as “feudal” – are not in this bill. The government claims these will be addressed in a separate bill later this year.

Gove also acknowledged how the lack of housing is a major problem also influencing the rental sector earlier this week, when speaking at the National Conservatism conference.

He said: “The problem is there simply aren’t enough homes in this country, it is increasingly difficult to get on the property ladder.

“We do need to think about supply, but we also need to think about how it is that we can help people, particularly younger people, in that increasingly competitive market to get the first-time buyer support that they need.”

The bill does not have a clear timeframe either, but it’s likely the government will try to pass it into law before the next general election at the end of 2024.

Is there much support for the bill?

Gove has, for the most part, received plenty of backing.


The housing charity Shelter described it as a “game changer”, adding: “For far too long Shelter’s emergency advisers have helped renters facing anguish and uncertainty, paying sky-high rents in return for poor living conditions, with no protection or security if they complain.”

Generation rent’s Dan Wilson Craw also praised the scrapping of Section 21 evictions, saying: “Abolishing [no-fault evictions] will take away much of the stress of renting and improve communication and trust between tenants and landlords.”

Inflation worries

But, London Renters Union’ Siobhan Donnachie said that “inflation-busting rent” means tenants will still feel insecure.

“If the government is serious about bringing renters security in our homes, it must recognise how insecure renters feel speaking out against unsafe housing or planning for the future with the threat of inflation-busting rent increases hanging over our heads.”

Does it go far enough?

However, the Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer said that there needs to be an immediate rent freeze and eviction ban “to prevent people being made homeless during this cost of living crisis”.

“And then in the longer term, I want to see councils being given the power to bring in rent controls in areas where the housing market is overheated,” she continued, while also calling for “stricter controls on the type of new homes being built” to include more affordable and social housing.

Labour’s shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy said her party would go further and introduce a “four-month notice period for landlords, a national register of landlords, and a host of new rights for tenants – including the right to make alterations to your home, to request speedy repairs and to have pets”.

And, as Sky News pointed out, there are also fears that property owners could still avoid the laws by using large rent hikes to push tenants out, rather than using Section 21 evictions.

What do landlords say?

Gove has claimed his bill is meant to target only the “minority” of landlords who are not treating their tenants well.

However, not everyone is happy.

Chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, Ben Beadle, told the BBC that landlords need to be confident they can “repossess their properties as quickly as possible”.

“Without this assurance, the bill will only exacerbate the rental housing supply crisis many tenants now face,” he claimed.

The Institute of Economic Affairs also warned: “Making it harder to evict residents is only likely to make it harder to rent.

“Landlords will inevitably be more selective about who they offer properties to and charge higher rents when they cannot quickly evict band tenants. That is likely to disproportionately hurt those who are poorer, younger and from minority communities.”

Similarly Andy Shepherd, chief executive of the London estate agent Dexters, told The Telegraph: “It could drive people away from the market and the unintended consequence of that will be pushing rents up.”


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