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Industry disappointed in ‘death’ of Renters (Reform) Bill

Allison Thompson

The Renters (Reform) Bill is now unlikely to pass after it wasn’t heard in parliament on Friday.

This has caused lots of disappointment from the industry, who felt it struck the right balance between tenant and landlord rights following numerous amendments.

The Renters Reform Bill was set to scrap Section 21 evictions – a manifesto pledge – but only after the court system was reviewed.

Allison Thompson, national lettings managing director, Leaders Romans Group, said: “We are deeply disappointed that the much-anticipated Renters (Reform) Bill will not pass into legislation due to the upcoming general election on July 4th. This Bill has been in development for several years, aimed at addressing critical issues that impact both tenants and landlords.

“The Bill’s failure to pass into law is a significant setback. While many of the Bill’s provisions were contentious – including concerns over periodic tenancies, the abolition of Section 21 and the associated issues of court delays along with the inclusion of the right to request a pet – we believed that continued dialogue and amendments would have addressed the concerns of all stakeholders, ultimately benefiting the rental market.

“LRG has consistently advocated for a balanced approach that protects both tenants’ rights and landlords’ interests. The failure to pass the Renters Reform Bill highlights the need for comprehensive housing policies that provide stability and address the critical issues facing the sector, principally the undersupply of good-quality rental homes.”

Ben Beadle

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “If true, it is hugely disappointing that this Bill will not now make it into law. The news comes despite the fact that the Bill was in a state which would work for tenants and responsible landlords.

“There has been too much dither and delay in government, and a failure to be clear about how to ensure changes would work in practice. Critically, the market now faces yet more crippling uncertainty about what the future of the private rented sector looks like.

“Reforming the sector will be an important issue for the next government and we will work constructively with them to ensure changes are fair and workable. That means empowering tenants to challenge rogue and criminal landlords whilst ensuring the confidence of responsible landlords to stay in the market.”

In terms of other elements in the bill: periodic tenancies were to become the norm; tenants were going to be able to challenge unjust rent increases via tribunal; it was going to be illegal to refuse to rent to people for being on benefits or having children; there was going to be a new national landlord register; there was going to be a grounds for eviction for landlords who want to sell their properties or move back in; and tenants were going to be able to keep pets as standard as long as they took out pet insurance.

Nick Emmerson, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: “We have been increasingly frustrated by the delays in banning ‘no-fault’ evictions and we are disappointed in the decision to drop the Renters Reform Bill entirely during the wash-up.

“A ban on ‘no-fault’ evictions was a critical step in strengthening renters’ rights. The constant delays, obstruction and now complete abandonment of the Renters Reform Bill shows us that reforming the rental market has not been taken seriously.

“With the cost-of-living crisis and high interest rates, many renters are struggling to pay rent. The next government must treat renters’ rights as a priority.”

The Labour Party has pledged to abolish Section 21 if it wins the general election.

Unlike the Renters (Reform) Bill the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill, which should scrap leaseholds on new houses but not flats, is being prioritised and could still yet pass.