Tenants could soon have greater protection against eviction and landlords will be encouraged to welcome pets.
It’s all part of the government’s newly unveiled Renters Reform Bill, which has already been dubbed a “game-changer” by the housing charity Shelter.
The housing crisis has been dragging on for years, but things appear to have taken a turn for the worse in recent months as skyrocketing rent – which is rising at its fastest rate in five years – has coincided with the cost of living crisis.
The proposed bill could benefit England’s 4.4 million private renters in what Downing Street has described as “the biggest shake up of the private rented sector in 30 years” and “a major reset of power between tenants and landlords”.
With 21% of private tenant renters living in unfit homes and a further 12% of rented households posing an imminent health and safety risk, this could be a major turning point for many.
Here’s a breakdown of what the government hopes to implement if this new bill passes into law (and how it will impact you):
Tenants would be able to:
Challenge poor practice
Challenge unjustified rent increases
Obtain refunds for unhealthy, unsafe or poor quality homes
Use a property portal to understand their rights
Rate their landlord as part of new satisfaction measures
Leave poor-quality housing without being liable for the rent.
Make sure homes are free from serious health and safety hazards
Keep homes in a good state of repair, with clean, appropriate and useable facilities
Not have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those receiving benefits
Consider requests to allow pets which they must not “unreasonably refuse”.
Private landlords will be able to:
Use a private-renters’ Ombudsman to settle disputes cheaply and quickly, without going to court
Efficiently recover their properties from antisocial tenants and sell their properties when they have to
Use the property portal to comply with their responsibility.
No-fault evictions will also be dropped
No-fault evictions currently allow landlords to end tenancies without reason, but with the new bill, tenancies would only end if a renter ends it or a landlord has a valid reason.
The proposal comes after the department for levelling up found more than a fifth of private renters leaving accommodation in 2019 and 2020 did not do so by choice, while 8% were asked to go by their landlord.
It was already banned in Scotland for any new tenancy agreements starting after December 1, 2017. Both Wales and Northern Ireland’s devolved governments have suggested that they intend to extend the notice period for no-fault evictions to six months at some point before the end of 2022.
Shelter was particularly pleased with this clause, telling the BBC that it will “level the playing field” and enable tenants to “stand up to bad behaviour instead of living in fear”.
“Gone will be the days of families being uproots and children forced to move school after being slapped with a Section 21 no-fault eviction for no good reason,” chief executive Polly Neate said.
Other changes include:
Dropping the “arbitrary” rent-review clauses
Restricting tribunals from increasing rent
Notice periods for rent increases will be doubled
Councils will receive stronger powers to tackle the worst landlords and increase fines for serious offences
Decent Homes Standard, which normally applies to social housing, would be extended to the private sector.