Renters’ reform bill: what does it mean for landlords and tenants?

The Renters’ Reform Bill, which promises an overhaul of the private rented sector, is currently being discussed by parliament. We look into what it could mean for tenants and landlords.

tenant and estate agent
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Renters’ Reform Bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament today, 17 May, four years after a shake-up of the private rented sector was promised in the conservative party manifesto.

The government published a document in 2022 outlining the full extent of its plans and the current bill reiterates these commitments.

As it’s brought to MPs, we look into what the proposed changes mean for tenants and landlords and how they could affect the private rented sector.

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What is the Renters’ Reform Bill proposing?

A ban on no-fault evictions

The bill would ban landlords from evicting tenants without a valid reason. The conservative party pledged to abolish no-fault evictions back in 2019.

Section 21 of the Housing Act has allowed landlords to break contracts without good reason, leaving tenants with two months to find a new property.

This will give tenants protection and security, but Matthew Lesh, Director of Public Policy and Communications at the Institute of Economic Affairs, pointed out this could make it harder to rent.

“Landlords will inevitably be more selective about who they offer properties to and charge higher rents when they cannot quickly evict bad tenants,” said Lesh. “That is likely to disproportionately hurt those who are poorer, younger, and from minority communities.”

The bill would also limit rent increases to once per year, and end the use of rent review clauses, as well as make it easier for tenants to challenge these.

Allowing tenants to keep pets

The bill will also force landlords to consider tenants’ requests to keep pets and forbid them from unreasonably refusing them.

Ban on refusing families or tenants in receipt of benefits

The bill will make it illegal for landlords to refuse families or tenants on benefits, and in future explore whether this can be expanded to other groups, such as prison leavers.

The government would “improve support to landlords letting to people on benefits”.

Introduction of a Private Renters’ Ombudsman

The bill will see the creation of a Private Renters’ Ombudsman, which would seek to resolve disputes between private renters and landlords “quickly, at low cost, and without going to court” as well as “strengthen tenants’ ability to hold their landlord to account”.

Landlords would be required to sign up to the Ombudsman, which will “have the legal authority to compel apologies, take remedial action and pay compensation”, explains Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.

Changes to repossession

The bill would make it easier for landlords to evict tenants for anti-social behaviour or missed rent payments by broadening the meaning of anti-social behaviour.

The bill would also “expedite landlords’ ability” to evict antisocial tenants.

Introduction of a property portal

A property portal would provide rental information for tenants, councils and landlords, explaining obligations on all accounts.

Could the reforms push landlords away from the market?

Landlords are reportedly giving up on buy-to-let as higher interest rates on buy-to-let mortgages make it more difficult to earn a profit.

Reductions to tax allowances, as well as the government’s upcoming requirement for properties to be upgraded to an EPC rating of C, which will cost landlords a collective £18bn, have also deterred buy-to-let investors.

“New eviction rules, pet requirements, and higher standards will only worsen the rental property shortage and record-high rents,” said Lesh.

“The housing crisis won’t be solved by fiddling with rental rules. Britain needs fundamental housing reform to allow more homes to be built where people want to live – anything else will continue to see renters offered poorer quality homes at too high prices,” he adds.

But the bill will provide security and support to renters who are currently struggling with record rents.

“We have long needed a statutory single private rental ombudsman, so I'm pleased to see it in the legislative plans,” says Lewis. “The new Bill needs to pass through Parliament before it can become law and this can be a lengthy process – though the Government says it plans to do so "at the earliest opportunity".

Nicole García Mérida

Nic studied for a BA in journalism at Cardiff University, and has an MA in magazine journalism from City University. She joined MoneyWeek in 2019.