Rental reforms welcome but implementation could be the end of the year

With many of us renting for longer before buying a home of our own and more people becoming tenants for life due to house prices being pushed out of reach, the Renters’ Reform Bill announced in parliament this week by Housing Secretary Michael Gove has widely been welcomed.The radical change to housing laws includes abolishing section 21 “no fault” evictions which will empower tenants to challenge poor landlords without fear of losing their home.The new bill will also make it easier for landlords to recover rental property so they can sell it if they want to, or if they want to move a close family member in, or when tenants wilfully do not pay rent.Notice to quit periods will also be reduced where tenants have breached their tenancy agreement or caused damage to the property.

To speed up evictions that end up in courts, more of the process will be digitised. A new Ombudsman will provide quicker and cheaper resolutions to disputes, while a new digital property portal will be set up to help landlords and tenants to understand their rights.

Renters will also be given the legal right to request having a pet in their home, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.

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Mr Gove said: “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them. This Government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a new deal to those living in the private rented sector; one with quality, affordability, and fairness at its heart.

The forthcoming new rules on tenancy agreements will ensure that more renters can have petsThe forthcoming new rules on tenancy agreements will ensure that more renters can have pets
The forthcoming new rules on tenancy agreements will ensure that more renters can have pets

“Our new laws will support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants, while delivering our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions.”

The government will also bring forward legislation to apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector. It will be illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on tenants in receipt of benefits or with children.

The bill will need to pass through parliament before the new laws are enacted and Michael Gove said he hopes they will be in place by the end of the year.

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Luke Gidney, founder of HOP, estate and lettings agency in Leeds, has mixed feelings about the changes. He says: “It’s positive that tenants will feel more secure and that they will have the legal right to request a pet in their home, which the landlord must not unreasonably refuse.”

However, he fears that more landlords will sell up and leave the sector if no-fault evictions are not an option and says: “That could reduce stock and lead to more demand and less supply, which will push rents up.

“We have already seen older landlords cashing in on house price increases and selling up and retiring, though we are also seeing new investors entering the market too.”

Demand for rental property post-pandemic is up 50 per cent on the five-year average but stock has fallen and average rents in Yorkshire have already increased by eight per cent year on year, as a result.

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Luke’s other concern is that student properties with tenancies that run for an academic year could be hit by the bill, which proposes reforms to allow a renter to end their tenancy at any time providing they give two months' notice.

He says: “If that happens then the landlord would struggle to let the property again as the timeframe would be outside the student lettings cycle but hopefully this will be addressed before the bill is enacted.”

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors adds that the reforms must give confidence to landlords and does not result in them leaving the sector.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, welcomed the Government’s pledge to ensure landlords can swiftly recover properties from anti-social tenants and those failing to pay their rent. Plans to digitise court hearings will also improve the speed at which legitimate possession cases are processed.”

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Martin Lewis, founder of, adds: “We have long needed a statutory single private rental ombudsman. Crucially, it will have legal authority to compel apologies, take remedial action and pay compensation.”

Property Post has previously highlighted the emotional impact of pets being banned from many rental properties and Michael Webb, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Battersea Cats & Dogs Home, said: “Tenants being unable to find anywhere to rent with their pet is sadly one of the most common reasons people bring their animals to Battersea.

“Not only will this Bill bring us one step closer to significantly reducing the number of dogs and cats we see being needlessly separated from their owners, it will also open up the many joys of pet ownership to millions of renters in the future.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​