First Reading of the Renters (Reform) Bill

Described as the “biggest shakeup of renters’ rights in England and Wales since the 1980s,” the Renters (Reform) Bill has now had its first reading in Parliament.

This is just the first stage of the journey through Parliament and there may be significant amendments before the Bill becomes law (or not).  In the meantime, we will help to familiarise you with some of the key parts of the proposal.

What is the Renters (Reform) Bill?

The bill aims to change the law about rented homes, including provision abolishing fixed term assured tenancies and assured shorthold tenancies; imposing obligations on landlords and others in relation to rented homes and temporary and supported accommodation; and for connected purposes.

What changes are proposed in the Renters (Reform) Bill?

There are five parts to the Renters (Reform) Bill: –

  • Part 1 provides for the abolition of assured shorthold tenancies and Section 21 evictions; introduces amended and additional grounds for possession*; changes notice periods; procedural changes for landlords introducing rent increases and challenges; an implied right for permission to keep a pet**; penalty for unlawful evictions / harassment.
  • Part 2 provides for regulations to introduce the Private Landlord Ombudsman and Private Rented Property Portal.
  • Part 3 makes provision for enforcement duties on local authorities.
  • Part 4 makes provision for further government amendments.
  • Part 5 contains general and technical clauses related to the bill.

*What new grounds of possession might be of interest to Registered Providers of Social Housing?

For Registered Providers of Social Housing there are some proposed new grounds for possession which may be particularly useful in resolving difficult cases.

  • Ground 5F makes provision for seeking possession when support services have been removed by a third party.
  • Ground 18 provides for seeking possession when there has been a period of non-compliance by the tenant with support.
  • Ground 5G makes provision for seeking possession when a homelessness duty has been discharged.
  • Ground 8A provides for possession for repeated high level rent arrears (three strikes).
  • Ground 14 definition of nuisance amended to “capable” of causing nuisance.

**What is a Pet? You’re having an ornamental giraffe!

Interestingly, the bill makes provision for a tenant to have the right to request to keep a pet, and it states that the landlord cannot unreasonably refuse such a request.

A pet is defined under the bill as an animal kept by a person for: –

(a) personal interest,

(b) companionship,

(c) ornamental purposes, or

(d) any combination of paragraphs (a) to (c);

We can only anticipate the fertile ground for litigation that such a widely drafted definition could have.

Why is this important for Landlords?

If introduced, these changes will have a wide-ranging impact for both landlords and tenants. Post- Housing Act 1988 legislation was in part designed to encourage landlords to let their properties to tenants. The resulting criticism was that Section 21 rests too much power in the hands of landlords at the expense of tenants.

While the contents of the bill does not quite take us back to the position of the Rent Act 1977, it will remain to be seen whether the proposals will result in properties being withdrawn from the rental market.

Should you have any queries, please contact Andy Moore, Partner and Head of Leasehold and Anti-Social Behaviour (Social Housing) at