Renters Reform Bill - 2nd Reading

So, you may be aware the Renters Reform Bill had its second reading in Parliament on 23rd October 2023. Here’s a summary of the debate by Rob Whisson of Belvoir! Evesham:

The Bill is progressing without alterations or a vote at this stage. As per the standard procedure, it has been forwarded to the committee stages where amendments are expected.

While the core components of the Bill remain intact, the following areas sparked the most vigorous debates:

  • The postponement of the abolition of Section 21 until the court system is adequately equipped to handle the increased workload received substantial criticism from opposition members. It remains to be seen whether the Government will proceed with this measure before the courts are fully prepared.
  • Emphasis was placed on reinforcing and expanding Section 8 options to safeguard the interests of landlords.
  • Regarding the student component, while most welcomed the introduction of an annual notice allowing termination of student tenancies, some argued that establishing fixed terms would be more preferable.
  • There was a discussion about whether the Ombudsman for Landlords should be a distinct entity or integrated with the existing Agents Ombudsman. Many suggested that the current one could serve both roles.
  • Questions were raised about what would constitute reasonable grounds for pet refusal, and additional guidance was requested. Ultimately, the courts would be responsible for making this determination.
  • The majority expressed support for upholding the Decent Homes Standard, which now includes a provision for energy efficiency in the acceptable standards. This is distinct from the currently suspended minimum grade legislation.
  • Concerns about supply shortages were voiced, with some acknowledging that landlords may not be exiting the market, but acknowledging a general shortage of homes across all sectors.
  • The importance of landlords in our housing system was underscored. Some argued for reintroducing incentives for landlords, a viewpoint that faced opposition from the other side.
  • While the proposal for annual rent increases aligned with market rates, with tenant recourse to a tribunal for excessive increases, fell short of Jeremy Corbyn’s expectations, who called for rent controls, this was swiftly rejected, citing failures in countries where such controls were implemented.
  • The opposition advocated for reinstating the bans on children and housing benefit, which were omitted from the initial reading of the bill. 

The Bill moves on and we will see what the next stage brings in due course.

With more than 12 years’ experience in lettings, Belvoir! Evesham’s knowledgeable team are available to offer help and advice, as well as free property market appraisals. Get in touch here.

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