Queen's Speech 2022: The Renters' Reform Bill and other key takeaways for letting agents

10 May 2022

The Queen's Speech 2022 has reconfirmed the government's commitment to strengthen tenants rights under the Renters' Reform Bill, plus announced a new planning system, social housing regulation, and more.

The Queen's Speech 2022 has reconfirmed the government's commitment to legislating on the Renters' Reform Bill, including abolishing Section 21, and creating a new Ombudsman and property portal for landlords. The Bill was originally proposed in 2019. The speech also announced that legislation would be introduced on the regulation of social housing plus a new planning system, as well as promising a new data protection regime.

These announcements for the next parliamentary session are considered the last chance for the current government to outline how it plans to deliver on its manifesto commitments. Although the Queen herself didn't attend the State Opening of Parliament, Prince Charles read the speech in her place.

Section 21 to be abolished, and a new Ombudsman and property portal created

The speech has reconfirmed that legislation will be introduced to strengthen the rights of tenants in England, including repealing Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act.

A new Ombudsman for private landlords will also help resolve disputes before they reach the courts - and a new property portal will "help landlords understand their obligations" so that tenants can hold their landlords to account.

Abolishing Section 21 will end “no-fault evictions” in England. Grounds for Section 8 are expected to be amended and strengthened, to help support landlords that want to recover their properties, including when they want to sell or move into the property themselves, or that have tenants that fall into rent arrears.

Agents will now need to take steps to ensure their landlords are fully aware of the changes and share any further details with their landlords regarding their new responsibilities once confirmed.

The background briefing notes for the speech confirm that the long-awaited Renters' Reform Bill White Paper will be published "shortly".

New regulation of social housing

The speech outlined that legislation will be introduced to improve the regulation of social housing in England, to "increase social housing tenants’ rights to better homes and enhance their ability to hold their landlords to account."

The government has already released draft clauses for a regulatory regime that will help deliver the proposed transformation of the social housing sector in England, "when Parliamentary time allows".

It aims to introduce more powers to address "failing" landlords and enforce the new responsibilities of social landlords.

This includes creating a new "consumer regime", covering an update of consumer standards, new Tenant Satisfaction Measures that all landlords will need to report on, and stronger enforcement powers for the Regulator of Social Housing.

A new planning system and housing reform

The speech also announced a new planning system, allowing local residents to simplify and standardise the local planning process, so that they can be produced and making it "easier for local communities to influence."

This will be done in part by "digitalising the system to make local plans easier to find, understand and engage with."

It also committed to help more people "to own the home of their dreams", primarily through the new Leasehold Reform Act 2022 which will come into effect on 30 June, and it will ensure that all new houses built are freehold, with a ban on new leasehold houses.

Reforming the UK's data protection regime

As the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union, the government will look to reform the UK's data protection regime, with a bill expected to be published in the summer. Currently, the UK follows General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The lettings process involves the handling of a lot of personal data, and agents will need to ensure they keep on top of these changes as details are announced to ensure that their systems and processes are in line with any new data requirements.

For more information, visit gov.uk.

Further reading