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When will the Renters Reform Bill take effect in England?

The Renters Reform Bill, which is set to change tenancy agreements and eviction rules in the private rented sector, still has a long way to go before becoming law.

Landlords and tenants across the country who are keen to find out when the Renters Reform Bill will come into play – and, indeed, what new rules the final Bill will contain – will need to wait several more months for any answers.

It is currently awaiting a second reading in the House of Commons, and this is not scheduled to happen before the summer recess, which starts on 20th July and ends on 4th September. This means it is likely to be at least autumn when the Bill gets its second reading.

After this point, though, the Renters Reform Bill may need to go through several more stages, including a committee and report stage, followed by a third reading in the Commons, before going through the same stages in the House of Lords. At any stage, amendments could be made to the draft law.

So, while it is important for anyone involved in the private rented sector – including landlords, tenants and agents – to be aware of what the Bill contains, it is not something that will imminently affect the rental market.

Renters Reform Bill still ‘unclear’

There has been speculation among some in the industry that the government is being slow in its dealings with the Renters Reform Bill because of some of the concerns it has brought up, such as how effective the new housing courts will be.

This is a sentiment echoed by Michael Cook, group managing director of Leaders Romans Group, who believes it is “unsurprising” that the Bill has been delayed.

“As an industry, we are concerned that a number of the elements of the Bill are unclear and need amending to make it workable.

“Giving MPs and the Select Committee a bit more time to liaise and engage with all parts of the sector is probably not a bad thing.”

He adds that landlords and tenants are “concerned about the impact of removing fixed terms. We also question how effective the new housing courts will be, given that we have heard of no clear plan.

“We suspect many MPs will share these concerns. This has possibly been sensed by government and hence the brakes applied to allow for some of these issues to be addressed.”

What we know so far

The most significant and most talked about changes in the Renters Reform Bill are linked to evictions. The Bill suggests abolishing the Section 21 “no-fault” eviction option for landlords, while boosting the powers and scope of Section 8 evictions and improving the existing court process.

Another proposal of the Renters Reform Bill is for the introduction of an ombudsman that will deal specifically with issues between landlords and tenants. This is aimed at improving overall standards in the industry where landlords fall below the expected level, as well as ousting criminal landlords.

It will also aim to create a ‘Privately Rented Property Portal’, aimed at helping buy-to-let landlords to understand the legal obligations involved with renting out properties, as well as allowing good landlords the chance to demonstrate their compliance. It is hoped this will help both tenants and landlords, and improve the sector.

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee also hopes to make it harder for landlords to discriminate against tenants with pets, families with children, and renters on benefits. It will prevent them from imposing a blanket ban on such tenant types in their listings.

Strengthening the powers of local councils to enforce powers and target criminal landlords is also on the agenda, as well as introducing a requirement for landlords to report on any enforcement activity.

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