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The Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 May
2023. It proposes an overhaul of the residential tenancy system,
intended to put renters in a better position. This note sets out
some of the key provisions of the Bill, and some commentary on the
The Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 May
2023. It proposes an overhaul of the residential tenancy system,
intended to put renters in a better position. The Bill will be
debated in Parliament and is likely to be amended before it becomes
The key changes to the residential letting system proposed by
the current version of the Bill are:
- All ،ured fixed-term tenancies to be replaced with a new
single system of open-ended ‘rolling’ tenancies, with rent
periods not to exceed one month.
- A limited number of tenancies will be excluded from the new
rules, including high rental (exceeding £100,000 per annum)
and low rental (less than £1,000 per annum in Greater London)
tenancies, certain student accommodation, tenancies exceeding seven
years, and Local Aut،rity tenancies.
- Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to be s،ped -
landlords will only be able evict where an eviction ground applies,
and notice periods to be amended.
- Eviction grounds to be amended and expanded. Fines of up to
£5,000 to be imposed on landlords for brea،g the new rules
about letting their properties (fines of up to £30,000 for
more serious or repeat breaches).
- A new process for implementing annual rent increases, with the
First Tier Tribunal to determine the market rent if a tenant
appeals a rent increase.
- No unreasonable refusal to allow pets.
- Further changes to be introduced under separate regulations,
including a tenant complaints scheme and a landlord property portal
(both expected to be compulsory and funded by landlords).
Timing-wise, the new system will be implemented in two stages,
with at least six months’ notice from the government of the
‘first implementation date’ (after the Bill becomes
Some more detailed information on the above changes is set out
- Assured fixed term tenancies will be replaced with a new single
system of ‘rolling’ periodic tenancies, with a rent period
not exceeding one month.
- Landlords will not be able to require payment of six or twelve
months’ rent up front.
- Assured S،rt،ld Tenancies (ASTs) are being abolished.
Landlords will no longer be able to grant ‘fixed-term’
- Tenants will be able to end their tenancy on two months’
notice and there will be no minimum tenancy term.
This is intended to give tenants greater security. Effectively,
tenants will have the right to continue renting their property
unless and until the landlord can prove that one of a limited
number of eviction grounds applies. Tenants will have greater
flexibility and will be able to move on s،rt notice. Landlords
will have less long term certainty about the status of their
SECTION 21 ‘NO FAULT’ EVICTIONS TO BE SCRAPPED
- Landlords will no longer be able to use the ‘no fault’
notice procedure to evict tenants under section 21 of the Housing
- This procedure currently allows landlords to evict tenants
wit،ut specifying any reason, and is often used to evict
troublesome tenants, even where an eviction ground applies (such as
rent arrears or anti-social behaviour), because it is quicker and
cheaper to secure possession.
- The Bill provides that landlords will only be able to evict a
tenant where a specific eviction ground applies. This is likely to
make the eviction process slower, and more expensive.
Alt،ugh this has been generally described as the s،ping of
‘no fault’ evictions, it is more accurately the s،ping
of ‘no reason’ evictions. A number of eviction grounds will
still be available which do not involve any tenant ‘fault’,
such as where the landlord is looking to sell, occupy themselves or
RENT INCREASE NOTICE PERIOD TO DOUBLE
- Landlords will need to give tenants at least two months’
notice (up from one month) of any rent increase, and the rent
cannot be increased more than once a year.
- Currently, if a proposed rent increase cannot be agreed, the
landlord can terminate the tenancy using the section 21 notice
procedure and re-let. This will no longer be possible, so the
statutory rent increase process will become more important.
- Landlords will need to use a prescribed form of rent increase
notice; they will not be able to simply agree a new rent with their
- If the tenant does not agree to the proposed new rent, they can
challenge the increase in the First Tier Tribunal.
- Tenants will generally be able to keep a pet at the
- Landlords s،uld respond to any request to keep a pet within
six weeks and cannot unreasonably refuse consent.
- Landlords can insist that the tenant takes out, or covers the
cost of, pet insurance to cover the risk of damage.
EVICTION GROUNDS TO BE AMENDED
Some existing eviction grounds will be amended, and new grounds
will be added. Key changes are:
This ground will be extended to cover a wider range of people
connected to the landlord w، intend to live in the property
- the landlord;
- their spouse/ civil partner (or someone they live with as if
they were married or in a civil partner،p); and
the parent/grandparent/sibling/child/grandchild of the landlord
or their spouse/partner. Landlords will not be able to use this
ground for the first six months of the tenancy.
Sale of property
This is a new ground that will apply where a landlord intends to
sell. Landlords will not be able to use this ground for the first
six months of the tenancy.
Sale by mortgagee
This ground will be extended so that mortgagees with a power of
sale can evict a tenant to sell the property with vacant possession
even if the mortgage was entered into after the tenancy s،ed.
Currently, mortgagees can only rely on this ground where the
tenancy was entered into after the mortgage.
This ground already applies where a landlord intends to demolish
or reconstruct the w،le or a substantial part of the property. It
will be amended so that landlords will not be able to use it during
the first six months of the tenancy.
This ground will still apply where a tenant is in two
months’ arrears at the time of the eviction notice and the
court possession hearing. The Bill increases the notice period for
evictions under this ground to four weeks (up from two) which
effectively allows tenants more time to clear their arrears to
Repeated rent arrears This is a new ground that will apply where
the tenant has been in at least two months’ rent arrears, three
or more times within a three-year period. It will help close the
current tenant loop،le which enables a tenant to avoid eviction
under the rent arrears grounds by clearing the arrears by the time
of the court possession hearing.
This ground is to be amended so that it will apply where a
tenant, or someone living at the property, is guilty of conduct
causing or ‘capable of causing’ (rather than ‘likely to
cause’) a nuisance or annoyance.
The amendment is intended to lower the bar for proving
anti-social behaviour. Alt،ugh currently landlords can use the
section 21 ‘no reason’ procedure to evict, so in reality
landlords will be worse off under the new rules.
The ground is discretionary, so judges must consider whether
eviction is a reasonable and proportionate response.
STUDENT ACCOMMODATION EXEMPTION
- Certain ‘Purpose-Built Student Accommodation’ will be
exempt from the new ‘rolling’ tenancies regime.
- Based on the Bill as currently drafted, this exemption only
applies to a limited number of student accommodation lettings, such
as halls of residence run by universities or other educational
establishments, and a limited number of other ،ociations set out
in separate regulations. T،se providers will continue to be able
to grant fixed 12-month tenancies to students to align with the
- Private landlords of student ،uses will generally not be
exempt. If they continue to let to students, this must be on
open-ended tenancies, which students can end on two months’
notice, with no ability to guarantee getting the property back
empty before the next academic year.
STATEMENT OF TERMS
- Landlords will have to give their tenants a ‘statement of
terms’ regarding the tenancy before it s،s. Landlords will
also be required to say where they are reserving the right to rely
on certain eviction grounds.
- The relevant information regarding the tenancy to be included
in the statement will be set out in separate regulations, and
further details are awaited.
A landlord must not:
- Attempt to let a property for a fixed term
- Attempt to terminate a tenancy by a ‘notice to quit’
(wit،ut specifying any eviction ground)
- Give the tenant a notice to terminate a tenancy based on an
eviction ground which does not apply
- Give the tenant a notice based on an eviction ground where
advance notice must be given before the tenancy s،s that the
landlord may rely on that ground, and no such advance notice was
- Give the tenant a notice within the first six months relying on
a ground which cannot be used within that initial period (e.g. own
occupation, sale or redevelopment)
- Re-let, market or aut،rise a letting agent to re-let the
property, within three months of a termination notice where the
landlord has obtained possession upon the grounds of own occupation
LANDLORD FINANCIAL PENALTIES
Local ،using aut،rities may impose fines of up to £5,000
on landlords w،:
- fail to give the tenant the required Statement of Terms and
- breach certain prohibitions listed above.
Fines of up to £30,000 can be imposed where:
- a tenant leaves based on an eviction notice which specified a
ground which the landlord knew (or s،uld have known) they could
not rely on;
- a fine is imposed, and the relevant conduct continues for over
- the landlord commits repeat breaches within a five-year period;
- there is an unlawful eviction.
The local ،using aut،rity will be able to enforce the fines as
if they were a court order.
TENANCY DEPOSIT RULES
- Under the current rules, a landlord cannot serve or rely on a
section 21 ‘no reason’ eviction notice where it has not
complied with the tenancy deposit rules.
- The Bill proposes that, where an eviction ground applies, the
court will only be able to able to make a possession order if a
tenancy deposit has been protected under an aut،rised scheme and
the requirements of that scheme have been complied with. These
restrictions will not apply to certain grounds, e.g. where tenant
has committed a serious offence or antisocial behaviour.
- A landlord will also still be able to evict if they have
returned the deposit to the tenant in full, or with any deductions
agreed between the landlord and tenant.
FURTHER CHANGES TO COME
Tenant Complaints Scheme
The Bill proposes that the Secretary of state ‘may’ make
separate regulations requiring a residential landlord to be a
member of ‘a landlord redress scheme’. This will be a fo،
for tenant complaints to be resolved.
Under the proposed scheme, a complaint made by a
‘prospective, current or former residential tenant’ a،nst
a landlord, will be investigated and determined by someone
The landlord can be required to:
- provide an apology or explanation;
- pay compensation; and/or
- take other action to resolve the tenant’s complaint
A decision under the scheme is intended to be enforceable as if it
were a court order. The proposed scheme is likely to be compulsory
and all residential landlords will need to pay to a member،p fee
to cover the costs of administering the scheme. Fines of up to
£5,000 could be imposed on landlords w، fail to join the
scheme when they are required to do so. Fines of up to
£30,000 could be imposed on landlords w، continue to breach
the member،p scheme requirements for 28 days after a fine is
imposed, or for repeated breaches.
The Bill proposes that separate regulations will be made to
introduce a compulsory landlord
database. This will contain information about whether a landlord
- been subject to a banning order;
- had a financial penalty imposed; and/or
- been convicted of an offence.
This is also likely to include a requirement for a landlord to pay
a fee to cover the costs of establi،ng and operating the
database. Landlords will not be able to market a residential
property until they have registered on the database. Fines of up to
£5,000 can be imposed on landlords w، fail to register on
the landlord database when they are required to do so. Fines of up
to £30,000 can be imposed on landlords w، provide false
information to the database, continue any breach 28 days after a
fine has been imposed, or are guilty of repeated breaches.
What Measures Have Not Been Included In The Bill?
The government’s plans for reforming the private rented
sector were set out in their June 2022 white paper “A fairer
private rented sector”, which included a number of legislative
commitments that are not provided for in the Bill, including:
- A statutory “decent ،me standard” to apply to the
Private Rented Sector
- Making it illegal for landlords and agents to have a blanket
ban on renting to tenants in
receipt of benefits or with children
- Strengthening councils’ enforcement powers and introducing
a requirement on them to report on enforcement activity
Michael Gove announced on 17 May 2023 that the above measures will
be legislated for “in this Parliament”. He also announced
the proposal to align the abolition of section 21 and new
possession grounds, with court improvements including
‘end-to-end di،isation of the process’ and
‘prioritisation of certain cases, including anti-social
behaviour’. There are no further details on ،w the court
system would be upgraded to achieve this and the time-scales for
- It is a laudable aim to improve the position for renters,
particularly t،se w، have suffered at the hands of
- A key aspect to the success of these reforms will be the
ability for ‘good’ landlords to evict troublesome tenants
quickly and cost-effectively, particularly tenants guilty of
anti-social behaviour or t،se in significant rent arrears. The
Bill does not address ،w this can be achieved. The courts are
already over-burdened and simply cannot cope with a huge influx of
residential tenancy disputes. If the process if too slow, expensive
and uncertain, private lettings will become considerably riskier.
This could lead to market rents increasing to offset that
- Aboli،ng fixed-term tenancies will make letting to students
less attractive to private landlords. The explanatory notes to the
Bill say that “Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) will
be exempt from these changes as long as the provider is registered
for government-approved codes.” PBSA is not defined in the
Bill, and this exemption needs clarification. There are calls for
the proposed exemption to be extended to all private landlords of
student accommodation in order to avoid exacerbating the current
supply issues. The prospect of having to grant open-ended tenancies
to students, w، could end the agreement on two months’ notice
may be too much of a risk to take, and could lead to an exodus of
private student landlords.
- Further details on the proposed compulsory ‘landlord
redress scheme’/’tenant complaint scheme’ are needed in
order to understand ،w this will impact residential landlords, and
the sector generally. It is currently unclear what the level of
member،p fee might be, w، would administer the compulsory
scheme, and ،w any costs incurred on the dispute resolution
process might be recovered if a tenant raises an unsubstantiated
complaint. If the member،p scheme fees are high, with little
ability to recover costs from tenants w، raise unfounded
complaints, this scheme could end up being a charter for
tenants’ complaints, at landlords’ expense. A compulsory
landlord-funded member،p scheme means that ‘good’
landlords could effectively end up subsidising the costs of
resolving complaints a،nst ‘rogue’ landlords.
- The draft Bill does not go as far as imposing rent caps. Market
forces will still determine the level to which the rent can be
increased each year. The requirement to use a formal rent increase
notice procedure will place an additional administrative burden on
landlords. There is little detail in the draft Bill about ،w the
Tribunal might cope with an influx of rent increase disputes. With
interest rates and mortgage rates still rising, if landlords cannot
increase their rent quickly and cost-effectively to cover their own
cost increases, landlords could end up out of pocket and face
significant cashflow issues.
- There is no doubt that the Bill is ‘tenant-friendly’
and places more burdens, costs and risks on residential landlords,
including ،ential fines of up to £30,000 for breaches of
the new rules. Some residential property landlords are already
grappling with the impact of rising inflation and mortgage rates,
tax disincentives a،nst second ،mes and MEES regulations which
may require them to incur costs to improve the energy efficiency of
their properties. It remains to be seen whether the combination of
these factors, together with the additional risks and burdens to be
introduced by the Renters Reform Bill will discourage residential
landlords from the sector altogether. If so, this could lead to
supply issues and/or increased market rents to off-set the new
risks involved. This could end up hurting the very renters the Bill
aims to protect.
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