Your guide to the Renters' Reform Bill [+ video]
The White Paper on the Renters' Reform Bill will be published "shortly" according to the May 2022 Queen's Speech background briefing notes.
The White Paper on the Renters' Reform Bill, originally slated by the government for release in autumn in 2021, will be shared "shortly" according to the background briefing notes for the Queen's Speech 2022 on 10 May.
The Reform Bill reappeared on the government's agenda when it confirmed its intentions to "enhance the rights of those who rent" in the Queen's Speech in May 2021, and again in the Levelling Up White Paper.
This guide answers the following questions:
- What is the Renters' Reform Bill?
- What does the Renters' Reform Bill propose?
- Why has the Renters' Reform Bill White Paper been delayed?
- What do the experts say about the Renters' Reform Bill?
What is the Renters' Reform Bill?
The Bill is a proposed set of sweeping reforms intending to transform the Private Rented Sector in England and “deliver a fairer and more effective rental market.”
In the briefing notes to the Queen's Speech 2021, the government announced that the Renters' Reform Bill White Paper would outline its "reform package" for the private rented sector, with legislation to follow in due course.
The proposed legislation would only apply in England, as housing policy is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
What does the Renters' Reform Bill propose?
The Queen's Speech briefing notes 2022 set out what letting agents and landlords can expect from the reform package and include:
- Abolishing Section 21 - so-called "no fault" evictions - and improving security for tenants in the private rented sector
- Reforming possession grounds for landlords through Section 8, creating stronger grounds for repeated incidences of rent arrears and reducing notice periods for anti-social behaviour.
- Applying the legally binding Decent Homes Standard to the Private Rented Sector for the first time
- Introduce a new Ombudsman for private landlords to help handle disputes before they advance to the courts.
- Create a new property portal to "help landlords understand their obligations", and allow tenants to hold their landlords to account with access to performance information.
- Providing a more effective legal framework and stable rental market to encourage landlord investment and giving local councils tools to enforce the measures.
Although the original proposals outlined a new "lifetime" tenancy deposit model to ease the burden on tenants when moving from one tenancy to the next, this wasn't included in the 2022 speech. We wait to see if this plan will be included in the White Paper.
Why has the Renters' Reform Bill White Paper been delayed?
In a letter to contributors to the White Paper, the government said the extension would "not only allow us to benefit from continued work with the sector but will also allow us to carefully consider the findings of the National Audit Office’s review of regulation of the sector which is due to report in the coming months".
The government is also actively engaging with tenants - among other stakeholders - to learn more about their experiences in the private rented sector.
In the interim, the Public Accounts Committee has released a report highlighting the shortcomings of the Private Rental Sector.
The BBC has also put out a call for estate and letting agent insights into the reasons behind the rental stock shortages, in part to ascertain the impact of increasing legislation in the sector.
What do the experts say about the Renters' Reform Bill?
Goodlord's Co-Founder and COO, Tom Mundy, says: “After so many delays, the Queen’s Speech has put the Renters’ Reform Bill back on the table. Although the Bill is set to introduce policies which divide opinion in the sector, the ongoing uncertainty around when these proposals would come into law weren’t helping anyone.
"Now that it’s clearly back on the agenda, the government must provide letting agents, landlords and tenants the clarity they need to move forward with confidence.
“Uncertainty is no good for the market, especially one that’s grappling with an ever changing set of regulations and new requirements. The industry now needs clear timelines so they can prepare accordingly.
"We hope this is a decisive step forward that will end the years of dithering, but the proof will be in what happens next.”
As well as the proposals outlined above, Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme, has previously shared his views on what a redress scheme could involve, through a pilot which is currently underway, and has called for better enforcement of the lettings industry.
For more expert insights, you can also register for our webinar with Sean Hooker for an update on what was announced in the Queen's Speech 2022 and to get your questions answered.