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Rental reforms edge closer – what’s the latest for landlords?

2-minute read

Conor Shilling

8 October 2021

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This article was updated on 2 November 2021

Landlords will soon need to start preparing for widespread rental reforms, including the proposed scrapping of Section 21 evictions and the introduction of lifetime deposits for tenants.

The government is planning to publish a rental reform white paper next year, with a range of updates given at the recent Conservative Party Conference.

Read on to find out more about how you could be affected by the proposed changes, when they might come into force, and how they’ve been received by tenants.

What is the Renters’ Reform Bill?

First put forward in 2019, the Renters’ Reform Bill intends to ban ’no fault’ Section 21 evictions and introduce lifetime deposits for tenants.

It’s been suggested that the reforms will give tenants more security and reduce the financial pressure when they move between rental properties.

There are also plans to make the database of rogue landlords accessible to the public, while more recently there’s been speculation that the Bill might include proposals for an independent industry regulator or national landlord database.

The introduction of the Bill was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s been back on the agenda since May when, as part of the Queen’s Speech, the government suggested it would be publishing a white paper in the autumn.

However, it was recently revealed by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities that the white paper will now be published in 2022.

At the end of October, contributors to the document were told by ministers that the government wanted extra time to create a ‘balanced package of reforms’.

What rental market changes do tenants want?

Ahead of the government’s white paper, property listing site SpareRoom surveyed over 6,000 tenants to find out what changes they’d like to see.

The most popular change among respondents was for the rogue landlord database to be made public (16 per cent), which is one of the policies expected to be announced as part of the Renters’ Reform Bill.

Other changes popular with the tenants surveyed included:

  • better enforcement on criminal landlords (15 per cent)
  • making it easier to rent with pets (13 per cent)
  • introduction of a national landlord register (13 per cent)
  • making open-ended tenancies the norm (13 per cent)

Interestingly, the removal of Section 21 evictions and the introduction of lifetime deposits – two of the expected flagship policies – were least popular with tenants, with just 10 per cent saying they’d like to see these changes.

When is the rental reform white paper going to be published?

When plans for a white paper were announced in May, the government said the proposals would be launched in the autumn. However, the publish date of the white paper has now been delayed until next year.

However, at the recent Conservative Party Conference a debate called ‘Rent Back Better: What does the Renters’ Reform Bill mean for the future of private renting?' gave an update on what might be included in the white paper.

The debate was held by the Onward think tank, and included the panellists:

  • Eddie Hughes, a Housing and Homelessness minister at the Ministry of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
  • Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter
  • Tamara Sandoul, Policy and Campaigns Manager at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
  • LIa Nici, MP for Great Grimsby

A ‘significant’ piece of legislation

Hughes said his team were still ‘in roundtables’ and speaking with stakeholders. He added that the government wants to make sure there are no ‘unintended consequences’ of the reforms.

He confirmed that the white paper would include a policy on lifetime deposits, but didn’t say whether Section 21 would be scrapped, or if an independent landlord regulator would be introduced.

It appears the white paper is now still some months away from being published, and then it’s likely to be late next year (or even 2023) before any new measures are introduced.

However, Eddie Hughes described the Renters’ Reform Bill as a ‘significant’ piece of legislation, so it’s important for landlords to keep up to date with its progress.

For more updates on the Renters’ Reform Bill and other key topics affecting landlords, keep an eye on our Knowledge centre.

Are you concerned about the introduction of the Renters’ Reform Bill? Let us know in the comments below.

Photograph 1: Вадим Пастух/stock.adobe.com

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