This week’s expected publication of the much anticipated Renters’ Reform Bill failed to materialise because of reported ‘procedural issues,’ once again leaving millions of landlords and tenants waiting with bated breath for further details on what has been described as ‘the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector for a generation.’
The wait for rental reforms continues
Plans to transform the UK’s private rented sector first surfaced in 2019 when then Prime Minister Theresa May promised to abolish Section 21 evictions.
In June 2022, more than three years on from that announcement, the government finally published its ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’ white paper, setting out a series of sweeping reforms aimed at radically reforming the sector, levelling up housing quality, and cracking down on rogue landlords.
Earlier in May, it was announced that the draft legislation would finally be published this week – likely under a new name but containing much of the reforms outlined last year.
But that failed to materialise, with the Mirror reporting “procedural issues” have led to the postponing of the long-awaited overhauls.
There has however been growing speculation that the delays could be due to lobbying from Conservative backbenchers who are concerned that the legislative balance is tipping too far in the favour of tenants.
A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities said:
“We are absolutely committed to delivering a fairer deal for renters.
“We will bring forward legislation very shortly, which will include a ban on ‘no fault’ evictions, so that all tenants have greater security in their homes and are empowered to challenge poor conditions.
“We are also introducing a Decent Homes Standard for the Private Rented Sector for the first time ever which will make sure privately rented homes are safe and decent.”
What’s likely to be included in the bill?
Although we are still awaiting confirmation on exactly what will be included in the Renters’ Reform Bill, it is thought the legislation will closely follow the proposals outlined in last year’s white paper.
Headline reforms include the abolishing of Section 21 so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions, potentially leaving landlords relying on Section 8 notices which require landlords to have ‘concrete and evidenced’ grounds for evicting a tenant. It is however thought that this could be amended in the final bill to make it easier for property owners to regain possession when required.
In addition, the Decent Homes Standard is also set to be applied to the Private Rented Sector for the first time, along with the introduction of a new housing ombudsman covering all PRS landlords and tenants.
Other proposals include ending rent review clauses and the doubling of notice period for rent increases. Meanwhile, blanket bans on tenants receiving benefits and those with children are set to be outlawed. There may also be new rights for tenants who want to keep pets, with requests unable to be ‘unreasonably’ refused by landlords.
What do landlords need to do?
For landlords up and down the country, the long wait to find out exactly what will – and will not – be included in the Renters’ Reform Bill continues. Despite this, publication is expected in the coming weeks, so keep a close eye out for further details.
As ever, it’s a good idea for landlords to stay up to date on the latest legislation and know what they need to do to comply. Planning ahead as far as possible is always the best course of action – although this is something that has admittedly been extremely difficult given the ongoing uncertainty.
For many landlords, the concern is that these sweeping reforms will only add to the burden of being a private landlord. Against a backdrop of soaring interest rates, ever-rising mortgage repayments and mounting maintenance costs, it’s little wonder many buy-to-let investors are questioning whether it’s all worth it.
At Sterling Woodrow, we stay closely in tune with the property market and help investors seek out the best opportunities to suit their needs. Whether you’re concerned about these incoming legislative changes and the continuing squeeze on landlord profits, it’s often worthwhile to consider different options.
If you wish to speak to one of our property portfolio managers about your current position, please give us a call – or reach out using our contact form.
Important note: The information provided in this article is general in nature and does not constitute personal financial advice. If you are unsure whether an investment is right for you, please seek professional advice. If you choose to invest, the value of your investment can both rise and fall so you may get back less than you put in.