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Latest changes to the Renters (Reform) Bill

Posted 18/04/2024 by Your Move
Categories: Landlords/Lettings
Cogs of compliance

The Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 8th November 2023, when it had both its first and second readings. One of the main points of the Bill is the scrapping of section 21, with fixed-term Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) also disappearing.

These two things alone have caused a lot of concern within the industry – not least because of the knock-on effects on things like student landlords and the court system.

The good news is that there have already been some amendments, and the Government’s latest proposed changes are very positive news for landlords.

Here’s a round-up of the key changes to date:

November 2023

Following the second reading in the Commons, the Government made various technical amendments and some significant updates, including:

  • A ground allowing Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) student landlords to regain possession of their property in line with the academic year. This would be subject to certain conditions, including requiring possession between 1st June and 30th September and giving tenants at least two months’ notice.
  • The power for the Government to set a new Decent Homes Standard for the Private Rented Sector (PRS)

January 2024

Further amendments proposed, including:

  • Extending the possession ground applicable to landlords of student HMOs, to landlords of smaller student properties, e.g. one and two-bedroom shared flats. This would ensure tenancies for the whole student private rental sector can function in the same way.
  • Helping landlords tackle tenants’ anti-social behaviour by amending the wording of section 8, ground 14, from “likely to cause nuisance” to “capable of causing nuisance”.

End of March 2024

The Government outlined its latest set of proposed changes in a letter to Conservative MPs, and these are expected to be formally tabled after the Easter recess.

They include:

  • Delaying the scrapping of section 21 until there has been a full review of the court process, as Michael Gove suggested last year. This is to make sure the system can cope with the increased workload that’s likely to be generated once tenants are able to challenge more evictions in court.
  • Ensuring tenants have to wait until they’ve been in a property for four months before they can give two months’ notice. This will essentially give landlords a minimum six-month rental commitment.
  • Enabling landlords of student properties to tailor rental contracts to the academic year. This should allow fixed-term rental agreements and ensures properties can be available for students to rent from the start of each university or college autumn term.
  • A review of whether local council selective licensing schemes should be continued once the proposed Property Portal has been established, as that will require all landlords to enter their properties on a central register.

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, commented:

“The Government’s commitment to review the implementation of the move to open-ended tenancies and establish an initial six-month tenancy period for tenants, does provide more certainty for agents and their landlords. It is also pleasing to see [their commitment] to further assessments and measures to ensure the current inadequacies that exist in the court system are tackled before removing no-fault evictions.”

In terms of the Bill’s progress, the Government Committee has yet to report on the debates it held last November. This needs to happen before the third reading can take place, then a final draft of the Bill has to go through the House of Lords.

So, while it’s possible the bill could still be passed into law this side of the upcoming General Election, it’s looking increasingly doubtful.

And if Labour comes to power the Bill could be substantially amended. We will, of course, keep you posted.

House of Lords questions why Government has not yet moved ahead with regulation of property agents

At the same time as significant changes to the PRS are being proposed in the Renters (Reform) Bill, there is the ongoing question of when property agents in England will be regulated.

Although agents do have to be registered with a redress scheme and have client money protection insurance, there’s still no requirement for them to undergo mandatory training or work to a specific code of practice.

This means England is the only country in Great Britain not to have agent regulation.


Letting agents must:

  ● Be on the official government register

  ● Follow the statutory Letting Agent Code of Practice

  ● Reapply to the register every three years

  ● Keep relevant training and qualifications up to date.

If an agent fails to comply with the Code, they can be held to account by the First-tier Tribunal and could be prosecuted in court.

In its recent enquiry, the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee found that a new regulator would make a significant positive difference to the sector, driving up standards and proactively enforcing against agents that engage in bad practices.

As a result, the Committee is putting pressure on the Government to get on with establishing a regulator of property agents for England.

The enquiry also found that, because The Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme don’t operate to the same criteria or adjudicate against members in the same way, there are inconsistencies in complaint procedures against agents and a lack of clarity for consumers.

As such, they’re recommending that one single ombudsman for all property agents is established.

Until agents are regulated, how do I find a reputable one?

Agents that operate to the highest standards will have membership of one of the four self-regulating industry bodies:

At Your Move, we’re members of ARLA Propertymark, which reassures you that:

  • Our Principals, Partners and Directors have achieved various formal qualification levels in residential lettings
  • All our team members undergo regular training
  • We have professional legal support
  • We have Client Money Protection, professional indemnity insurance and membership of a government-approved redress scheme
  • We adhere to a strict code of conduct and have a clear complaints process.

For more information and advice on how to identify the best agents, see our recent blog, ‘The different services agents offer’.

And if you’d like to discuss how we can help let and manage your property, or find out more about our professional services, you can find the contact details for your local branch here.

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