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The Renters Reform Bill from an immigrant’s perspective

Olusegun Akinfenwa writes for Immigration Advice Service, a law firm based in the United Kingdom that offers immigration services globally

The 2023 Renters Reform Bill was introduced to improve the security of renting in the UK. Once the bill is passed, private renters will no longer have to contend with ‘no fault’ evictions, while landlords will have an easier time moving back into their rented properties.

With renting growing in popularity year on year, it is hoped that the Renters Reform Bill will have a positive impact on a significant proportion of the UK population.

One overlooked group within this private renting community is migrants, who face unique challenges when it comes to renting approval. The new legislation may make it easier for migrants to enjoy stable accommodation in the UK, though there are concerns surrounding the treatment of migrants due to this bill.

Understanding the Renters Reform Bill

The key components of the Renters Reform Bill are:

  • Stronger protections against backdoor eviction (via appeals)
  • New regulatory body (Private Rented Sector Ombudsman)
  • Abolition of ‘no fault’ evictions
  • Privately Rented Property Portal for the education of landlords
  • More comprehensive possession grounds for landlords
  • Right to request a pet in the property

According to the UK government, nearly one-quarter of private rented homes do not meet basic decency standards, which lowers the quality of life of private renters in the UK. The situation is also difficult for many landlords, who have valid reasons to want to evict tenants and yet cannot legally do so.

The Renters Reform Bill addresses key concerns of both renters and landlords, in an attempt to make private renting fair for all.

We can predict that renting will become even more popular as a result of this bill, although there is a strong likelihood that it will lead to a decrease in landlords. This is due to the increased duties that landlords are obliged to carry out, which will take up more of their time and money.

The Migrant Housing Challenge

Landlords are legally obliged to check the immigration status of their tenants. For fear of renting to someone who does not have legal residence in the UK, some landlords have been known to discriminate against all migrants.

This has led to a troubling situation for many migrants, who either struggle to rent a property to begin with or find themselves illegally evicted from properties.

Key Provisions Impacting Migrants

When the Renter’s Reform Bill is rolled out, illegal evictions of migrants are expected to decrease, as landlords will need a valid reason for eviction. It will also be harder for landlords to force migrants out in more subtle ways, such as increasing rent.

However, as there will be a straightforward process for landlords to move back into their property, some landlords may abuse the new reform in an attempt to keep migrants out of their accommodation.

The new deposit reforms may work in favour of low-income migrants. Instead of paying a new deposit for every property, tenants will pay a ‘lifetime deposit’ which can be passed on to each new property.

The introduction of the Private Rented Sector Ombudsman could also result in a fairer system for migrants, as there will be an independent body to take complaints to.

Mitigating Risks and Maximizing Opportunities

There is no doubt that the new bill will significantly impact migrants in both positive and negative ways.

To ensure the positive outweighs the negative, we recommend reaching out to an immigration advice service provider who will explain your new rights and responsibilities as a private renter. With this knowledge, you will be able to quickly identify and report any illegal behaviour carried out by your landlord.

There are also a number of UK charities offering support to private renters, including migrants. Citizens Advice and Shelter are just two examples of reputable advice firms that deal with private renting.

The Broader Implications

Currently, it would appear that the Renter’s Reform Bill is going to trigger more positive change than negative. With the ability to avoid no-fault evictions, request a pet and make a formal complaint to a neutral organisation, tenants will hold more power than ever before.

That said, we have not yet seen how landlords will respond to this bill. There are concerns that some landlords will use their power to get around the new rules, and others will stop renting their properties entirely.

Overall, it’s crucial for migrants to stay informed about this new government bill. It not only helps foreign nationals to see the renting opportunities that are available to them, but also ensures they can rent as safely and securely as possible in the UK.