Honourable and personal residential letting experts

15May

Renters Reform Bill – what happens next?

Last week the Renters Reform Bill received its last reading in the House of Commons and has made it way to the House of Lords. It now faces another five stages before it will enter Royal Assent and become law. Most pundits believe this could be by October 2025, but as per the Tenant Fee Ban (2019) we were given a nine-month lead in from passing Royal Assent which means we could be looking nearer April 2026. However, The National Residential Landlords Association predicts that the House of Lords is unlikely to make substantive changes to the Renters Reform Bill.

What have been the changes since the last reading?

183 amendments Including 52 new clauses

What has been changed?

Here is a precis of the changes with our understanding on what this will mean to the PRS.

Positive changes to the Bill include:

1. Tenants will need to be in a property for four months before they can give two months’ notice. This means a landlord will guarantee that a tenant will stay in a property for six months.

Our understanding – we have ended up with what we had with a different wording. But now is the time to consider renewing tenancies into a fixed term beforelegislation arrives.

2. Section 21 cannot be abolished until there has been an examination of whether the courts can handle the increased capacity. Since October 2023 the government used the words when “sufficient progress has been made to improve the courts.”

Our understanding – it will happen, but it seems legislators have just cottoned on to the fact that pushing everything to the courts will just crash the system. The 1.2 million invested in digitising the courts will not touch the sides!

3. More protections for student housing making sure that the cyclical nature of the student lettings market is not damaged.

Our understanding – this is to make sure that landlords can guarantee to prospective students that there will be a property to rent for them.

Changes that landlords need to note

1. Prohibit landlords from refusing to let to families with children or people who receive benefits. Local authorities could impose a penalty of up to £5,000 for a breach of the requirements.

Our understanding – this does not mean you would need to let a one-bedroom property to a family of four or if an applicant could not afford the property be forced to take them on.

2. Enable regulations to be made to apply a decent homes standard to the private rented sector and empower local authorities to enforce it.

Our understanding – this will depend on local authorities gearing up in the light of prospective Awabbs Law.

3. Strengthen local authorities’ investigatory powers to respond to landlord practice, including to require information from property owners and to enter a property.

Our understanding – as above.

4. Improve national oversight by requiring local authorities to report, at the request of the Secretary of State, on how they exercise their enforcement powers.

Our understanding – as above.

5. Increase the maximum amount of rent that a first-tier tribunal can order a landlord to repay from 12 to 24 months, and ensure that superior landlords can be liable for rent repayment orders as well as a tenant’s immediate landlord.

Our understanding – we wait to see what the fines would be.

6. If your tenant wants to have a pet landlords must give or refuse their consent in writing within 28 days of the request being made. The landlord cannot withdraw consent once it is given.

Our understanding – this would not be applicable in leasehold premises and a landlord would be able to refuse permission if the property was not fit for a pet. However, the tenant fee ban is also in discussion. Which means that a landlord could demand that a pet damage insurance is taken out.

Things at were rejected from the last reading but will most probably hit the media and will most probably be part of a Labour manifesto if the Bill is not concluded before the next General Election

These include:

1. Requiring landlords to state the proposed rent when advertising the property and prevent them from encouraging bids that exceed that amount.

Our view – we do not disagree with but unless supply improves there will always be people that take bids.

2. Restrict the maximum amount of rent a landlord could request before a tenancy begins.

Our view – not sure how this would be policed since any landlord / agent marketing a property would not find a tenant if it was way above market rent.

3. Prevent a first-tier tribunal from increasing rent above the level proposed by a landlord in a notice under section 13 of the Housing Act 1988.

Our view – as above.

4. Strengthen protections for tenants around the grounds for possession, including increasing the minimum notice periods.

Our view – at present they are suggesting a six month notice period. But let’s be honest, 87% of tenancies are ended by the tenant (our data).

5. Enable rent repayment orders to be made against landlords for less serious, non-criminal breaches of the legislation.

Our view – at the moment rent repayment orders are applied to landlords that ignore licensing.

6. Strengthen local authorities’ homelessness prevention duty where a valid section 8 notice is served.

Our view – rather than councils advising people to stay in a property once notice has been given. They will need to help find a new home rather difficult when there is very little social housing available.

What the future holds

We will be hearing quite a bit about how the Bill is progressing over the next few months. You can be assured that we shall keep you informed as we hear.