What London Tenants and Landlords Need to Know About the Renter's Reform Bill.

Ross McColl
4 min read
Nov 22, 2023
Updated: Nov 22, 2023

The eagerly awaited Renter's Reform Bill has finally been made public, with intentions to benefit both UK private rental sector tenants and landlords alike. The bill is expected to pass through Parliament before any changes are implemented. Here are some of the key features of the bill aimed at enhancing the current state of the industry.

Indefinite tenancies

Under the new bill, tenancy contracts will continue on an indefinite basis, enabling renters to stay in their homes until the tenant decides to terminate their contract, provided that they provide the required two-month notice. Landlords will only be permitted to serve notice under specific Section 8 grounds if they choose to evict tenants. For the first six months of the tenancy, the ground for moving in, selling, or redeveloping will not be valid.

The End of Section 21 (No Fault Eviction) 

In favor of tenants dealing with difficult landlords, there will be an end to no-fault evictions, also known as Section 21. The bill's plan is to provide more protection for renters by empowering them to address unacceptable practices and illegal rent hikes without fear of eviction. Section 21 will remain in effect until the bill passes through parliament.

Enhanced grounds for possession (Section 8)

There will be specific conditions allowing landlords to terminate their tenancy, including occurrences of anti-social behaviour, recurring rent arrears, and when landlords sell or move in with family. The list of disruptive or harmful activities deemed anti-social has been extended, offering landlords stronger powers to evict anti-social tenants. The proposed anti-social behaviour action plan published in March this year outlines the guiding principles for judges overseeing eviction cases.

If a tenant has been in significant rent arrears for at least two months over three years, with a minimum of three occurrences, then eviction will be mandatory, regardless of the rent arrears balance at the hearing. This reform ensures that tenants with long-standing tenancies may not be evicted because of a one-off financial misfortune.

A full list of the reformed grounds for possession can be found here. 

Rent increase

Landlords will be able to adjust the rent annually by market prices, provided they give two months' notice of the change, using a form that will be available on the Gov.UK site. If tenants think the rent increase isn't reasonable, they will have the right to challenge the increase through the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). The intention is to prevent above-market rent increases from being used to force renters out of their properties.

Pets in Rentals

More furry friends may be the company for London's tenants. Pet owners will receive legal immunity to have a pet in their rented unit, and landlords can't unreasonably turn down the applicant's request. To protect their properties, landlords and property managers may request pet insurance, with tenants liable for court actions if the deposit and insurance do not adequately cover any damage to the house.

New Ombudsman

All landlords will be required by law to join a redress scheme, even those that use an agent to manage their property. Agents will still maintain legal obligations to the tenants, obviously. However, landlords will be able to complain to the Ombudsman about mediation services.

Private Rented Sector Database

The entire collection of rental properties will have to be uploaded to a digital portal, including uploading needed compliance documents such as EPC's, EICR's, and GSI's. Local enforcement parties will be able to check this portal to make sure the property complies, track down rowdy landlords quickly, and upload property issues that require tackling by enforcement officials.

End tenant benefit discrimination.

It will be deemed illegal for landlords to refuse to rent their homes to tenants in receipt of benefits or to tenants with children.

Council Enforcement Powers

The Renters' Reform Bill will also strengthen enforcement powers by introducing a new requirement for councils to report enforcement actions to help track down bad landlords.

The full Renter's Reform Bill has been published and can be viewed here.