Industry News Sally Walmsley 27/03/2024

Rental reform amendments will include minimum tenancy plan

Plans to introduce a minimum six-month tenancy will be included in government amendments to the Renters (Reform) Bill. Here NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle talks about what we know. 

As you will no doubt be aware, new amendments to the Renters (Reform) Bill have been revealed in the media, following weeks of speculation in the press and online.

The new proposals offer sensible solutions to what we at the NRLA considered sticking points in the original Bill, and are hopeful  it can now continue its progression through Parliament without further delay.

The Government is planning to table a series of amendments to the Bill, including:   

  • A requirement that tenants be unable to give two months’ notice to leave until they have been in a property for at least four months – creating a six-month tenancy by default 

  • A commitment to a full review of the courts before ending section 21 for existing tenancies 

  • Extending the student ground for possession to all student properties, not just HMOs. 

These are fair, sensible and workable changes – some of which were proposed by the NRLA – and we now want to see them formally tabled so the Government can press ahead to bring the Bill forward ahead of a general election. 

Rumours of the amendments and off-the-record briefings to backbenchers have been circulating for some time now and, as we explained in a recent article, the clock is ticking when it comes to rental reform

Any further delays at this stage could derail plans put forward by the current administration, something which could have serious repercussions for the sector. 

Both major political parties have confirmed they will abolish Section 21 possessions, the cornerstone of the Bill, and this would likely happen before vital court reform under a Labour administration

Our focus has been on ensuring that the replacement system works, and is fair, to both tenants and responsible landlords and we believe these amendments meet this brief. 

Expert backing  

The proposals to introduce a moratorium on tenants serving notice was first mooted by the NRLA, and adopted as a proposal by the cross-party housing select committee as something that will ‘give landlords the legal certainty of at least six months’ rent at the start of a tenancy’, while at the same time offering protections for tenants whose properties are substandard.  

The Law Society threw its weight behind our argument that the justice system needs reform before the loss of Section 21, warning that ‘without investment for housing legal aid and the courts, the bill will not achieve its aims and may lead to an increase in backlogs and landlords and tenants alike will be unable to enforce their legal rights’. 

Universities UK also agreed change is needed to proposals on student lets and that ‘the annual cyclical model is critical for landlords’ business models which ensures a timely and robust supply of student accommodation’. 

While there is still no date for the next parliamentary stage of the Renters (Reform) Bill we understand the housing minister Jacob Young is writing to MPs to outline his intentions, with a date for debate to be scheduled shortly after the Easter recess.  

The lack of progress and uncertainty about the future has been destabilising and damaging for those living and working in the private -rented sector, be they landlords or tenants. 

Now is the time to bring this to an end by getting these amendments out in the open where they can be given the scrutiny they deserve. 

More information 

For more information about the Renters (Reform) Bill, including FAQs visit the dedicated NRLA pages here.  

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley Magazine and Digital Editor

Sally is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

See all articles by Sally Walmsley