Since 2019, The Renter's Reform Bill has been officially on the table. Theresa May's Government first announced the bill in April 2019 as a 'step change' in protections for renters, ending no-fault evictions and giving landlords and tenants more rights. It was hailed as the biggest change to the private rental sector for a generation.
ARLA Propertymark is warning the Government that it should not delay further on its long-awited Renters' Reform Bill, because of the uncertainty it is causing the Lettings sector. The Bill was introduced in outline in last week's Queen's speech, suggesting it would be put on the Parlimentary timetable for sometime in the coming 12 months.
There have been so many proposals to this Bill already.
- July 2018: Consultation Number One
In 2018, the Government launched a consultation on 'Overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the Private Rented sector'.
This was the first step towards creating the Renters' Reform Bill as we know it today, and the first invitation to the industry at large to contribute views on the benefits and barriers of landlords offering longer tenancies.
- April 2019: The Government Responds to the Consultation
In April 2019, the Renters' Reform Bill started to take shape. Just before the Tenant Fees Ban came into effect, Theresa May's Government published its response to the 2018 consultation.
The Government shared that it woule ban no-fault evictions, amend the Section 8 Notice, and reform the court process to 'improve security for tenants'. Doing so would also 'effectively create open ended tenancies' and bring about the 'biggest change to the Private Rental sector for a generation'.
The press release from the Government announced a new consultation on eviction and court processes, saying that this was "the start of a process of engaging with landlords and tenants to amend these grounds".
- July 2019: Second Consultation is Launched
In July 2019, the consultation, 'A new deal for renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants' was launched.
The paper invited views on 'how the Section 21 Notice has been used in the past and the circumstances in which landlords should be able to regain possession once it has been abolished'.
It highlights that landlords feel that the Section 21 Notice is more efficient than the Section 8 Notice, becuase 'the existing grounds for possession do not provide enough flexibility to respond to changing circumstances' - hence why it is consulting to understand how to strenthen the Section 8 grounds.
The consultation also examined the implications of removing Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), how the possession process could be improved, and whether housing associations should also be included under the reforms.
- October 2019: Renters' Reform Bill first announced in the Queen's Speech
The second consultation closed in October 2019, and the Renters' Reform Bill was announced offically in the Queen's Speech for the first time in the same month. The Bill promised to 'introduce a package of reforms to deliver a fairer and more effective rental market'.
- May 2021: The Second Queen's Speech to include Renters' Reform
In 2020, the pandemic struck, and the Government set aside many pieces of legislation already in the works to focus on the impact of Covid-19. However, in May 2021, the Queen's Speech was back, and so were Renters' Reforms.
- The last Step to Legislation
This Parliamentary session is particularly important to the current Government, as it is one of the last chances it has to fulfil the commitments it made in the party manifesto, before the next general election.
Nikki da Costa, former advisor to Number 10, said "the last major legislating session of this Parliamentary term. A final, fourth, session is now more likely than not to begin next May....
"....It is also unwise to leave politically important Bills to the last session: this risks backbench rebellions, criticism for not having legislated sooner, and / or distracting from the electoral narrative".
This will increase the sense of urgency around converting these proposals to legislation before the Government's time runs out.
The Government may also intend to present an airtight, final proposal in the white paper, that has thoroughly addressed all angles and that will see little opposition as it moves through the houses.
We may therefore have confirmation of the final form of the Bill will take earlier rather than later.