What is the Tenant Reform Act and how does it affect you? | British News

Put up a sign in front of a house.

The market for private rental properties could soon experience major upheavals. (Source: Getty Images/Image source)

The The Tenant (reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament on May 17 in a bid by the government to address problems in the private rental housing market. This move is described as a “one-off overhaul of housing laws.”

The bill met with a mixed reception, with some claiming it was “anti-rental”, but has now reached its second reading in the House of Commons.

However, Michael Gove, MP and Housing Secretary, said: “Too many tenants live in damp, unsafe, cold houses, have no power to remedy and face the threat of sudden eviction.”

“This government is determined to fight these injustices by offering a New Deal to those living in the private rental sector; one that focuses on quality, affordability and fairness.’

The introduction of the bill could affect up to 11 million tenants in the UK.

So what does the bill say and how might it affect you?

Here’s what you need to know

What does the Tenant Reform Bill say?

The tenant (reform) bill was based in part on the 2019 Conservative Manifesto pledge to abolish the notorious “no-fault” Section 21 evictions.

Tenant Reform Bill

Some of the key changes in the bill are:

  • Elimination of no-fault evictions under Section 21 and transition to a simpler rental structure (based on time period).
  • Apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rental sector.
  • Introduction of a new ombudsman for the private rental sector.
  • Ban landlords and agents from refusing to rent to tenants because they are on welfare or because they are with children.
  • Create larger lots so landlords can still reclaim their property.
  • Create a portal for privately rented properties.
  • Give renters the right to request a pet at the property.
  • Strengthened enforcement powers for councils and introduced a new obligation for councils to report on enforcement activities.

Source: gov.uk

Housing Secretary Michael Gove also said: “Our new legislation, coming before Parliament today, will support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality housing to their tenants, while delivering on our manifesto commitment to abolish no-fault evictions under Section 21 .”

“This will ensure that everyone can live in a decent, safe and secure place – a place they can be really proud to call home.”

In return, Labor has proposed a so-called “tenants’ charter”, which also promises abolition of no-fault evictions, a four-month notice period, a national landlord register and other additional rights for tenants.

How might the Tenant Reform Act affect you?

The new bill that is being introduced will have a significant impact on both renters and landlords in the private rental market. So it’s important to be aware of the changes if you fall into either category.

David Breare, director of Canonbury Management, has spoken out about the bill’s impact on tenants and landlords.

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More access to housing than tenants

Blanket bans on renting to families who are on welfare, have children, or own pets are now becoming illegal.

This means that anyone in this situation looking to rent will have better access to the housing market and a wider choice of housing.

David Breare said: “The bill introduced a decent home standard, which means that all properties must meet a minimum standard of condition and repairability.”

“Additionally, tenants will have the ability to challenge landlords who don’t, meaning tenants will have more leverage over the condition of the properties they rent.”

Higher living standards

Applying the Decent Homes Standard to the private rental market is intended to improve the quality of available housing and to meet the government’s “Leveling Up” mission to halve the number of non-decent rental homes by 2030.

sign for rent

The Decent Homes Standard is applied to rental properties. (Source: Getty Images)

Increased social mobility

Under the bill, landlords will no longer be able to increase rent more than once a year. Should they decide to do so, the notice period will be extended from one month to two months.

This means renters should have better control over their finances and more time to look for alternative accommodation should their current home become unaffordable.

More property information available for renters

Landlords are required to provide tenants with more information about the property they live in, including an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and rental history.

Mr Breare said: “Renters can then make more clear decisions about the property by being able to assess before moving in what the bills could be and whether the landlord is regularly increasing the rent.”

Increased rental costs

To meet the Decent Homes Standard, landlords may need to increase rents. Additional costs may also need to be factored in to comply with the new pet rules, as landlords may require owners to purchase pet insurance.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Housing, Housing and Communities, introduced the bill to the House of Commons. (Image: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Less flexibility for landlords

The new rules mean landlords have less control over who they can and cannot rent to.

Mr Breare added: “While illegal, the previous blanket bans were used by landlords to turn away tenants they deemed unsuitable.”

“As a result, it’s now becoming much more difficult for landlords not only to turn down tenants, but to turn down their requests, such as allowing pets on the property.”

“Similarly, the ban on no-fault evictions means landlords will have a harder time evicting tenants, which means their property management flexibility will be limited.”

Reduced housing stock

Landlords strongly opposed to the new law may choose to sell their property rather than rent it out. Should this happen on a large scale, it could impact the overall market.

MORE: Rent ‘should be reduced for women in London to close the gender housing gap’

MORE: Renting: Eight expert tips for saving money when renters face rising prices

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Justin Scaccy

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