How will the Renters’ Reform Bill become law?
The Government is expected to publish the long-awaited Renters' Reform Bill next week. Here, we take a look at how legislation is made and the likely route the Bill will take to Royal Assent and implementation.
What is a legislative Bill?
A legislative Bill is the Government’s proposal for a new law or changes to an existing law that is introduced to Parliament for consideration.
It must pass through several stages in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and in most cases, must receive support from both Houses before it can become law.
How does a Bill become law?
The publication of a Bill is known as a ‘First Reading’. The Bill’s full title is read out, but there is no opportunity to debate the Bill’s contents. This happens at the Bill’s ‘Second Reading’, usually at least two weekends after the ‘First Reading’.
After a Bill’s ‘Second Reading’, a cross-party committee of MPs is formed in what is known as ‘Committee Stage’. The committee takes a detailed look at each line of the Bill and, in the House of Commons, issues a call for evidence, which is an opportunity to offer improvements and propose new clauses. Once evidence has been heard, the committee debates and votes on any changes.
‘Report Stage’ follows, which is when all MPs have a chance to debate and suggest changes to the Bill. A vote is held if necessary.
Immediately after ‘Report Stage’ – often on the same day – comes the ‘Third Reading’. This is the final opportunity for MPs to debate the contents of the Bill, but no further changes can be made.
The Bill is then introduced to the House of Lords and follows a similar process to that in the House of Commons. The main difference is that, at the Bill’s Third Reading in the Lords, amendments can be made provided the matter has not been previously voted on at Committee or Report Stage.
Once amendments made in each House have been agreed by the other – which can involve a considerable amount of ‘ping-ponging’ between the two Houses – the final Bill is sent to the King for Royal Assent.
How long will it take?
It is difficult to predict exactly how long it will take a Bill to progress through Parliament – availability of Parliamentary time and contentiousness of the Bill are the main factors affecting progression. Some Bills are fast-tracked, meaning a Bill can be passed in as little as a day.
However, since the Renters’ Reform Bill is likely to contain a considerable number of changes to current legislation, it is unlikely – though possible – that it will reach Committee Stage before Summer Recess, with Royal Assent and implementation more likely to be in the latter part of this year or early next.
What should I expect when it becomes law?
The Government has confirmed that it will provide at least six months’ notice of the first implementation date, after which all new tenancies will be periodic and governed by the new rules. Existing tenancies will be given a further twelve months’ notice from the first implementation date to convert to the new system.
So, even once Royal Assent is granted, it is likely to be at least eighteen months before ongoing tenancies are required to move onto the new regime.
The NRLA will continue to engage with the Government and parliamentarians as the Bill progresses to ensure that our concerns are addressed. You can add your voice by responding to the NRLA’s surveys and by contacting your local MP.
We have created a series of template letters that you can use to make this process simpler. You can write to your MP using our online tool. Once you are logged into your membership account, the tool will automatically find your MP and ensure your letter follows parliamentary protocol.