Industry News Sally Walmsley 04/05/2023

Renters’ Reform Bill out next week

Michael Gove has confirmed the Renters’ Reform Bill will be published next week, promising the biggest shake-up in the private rented sector for over 30 years.

The Housing Secretary made the announcement in an interview for Sky News, a full six years since then Housing Secretary Sajid Javid proposed the introduction of a housing court, and four years since his successor James Brokenshire mooted abolishing Section 21 repossessions.

Since then the NRLA has been working tirelessly on behalf of members, campaigning for reform that will support landlords and encourage investment in the private rented sector, while at the same time allowing the Government to honour its commitment to strengthening tenants’ rights.

The Government published a White Paper on Rental Reform last summer, outlining proposals set to be included in the Bill. The NRLA produced its own in response, with the document A New Deal for the Private Rented Sector outlining changes which would iron out some of the more problematic aspects of the proposals, specifically around areas such as tackling anti-social behaviour and student tenancies.

The NRLA has asked the Government to:

•    End the anti-landlord rhetoric and back the majority of landlords providing good quality home to rent
•    Address issues that will arise in the student market as a result of plans to introduce indefinite tenancies
•    Come up with firm principles as to how councils and the police can support landlords to tackle anti-social tenants quickly and effectively – something there has already been movement on
•    Reform the courts BEFORE Section 21 powers are removed to tackle lengthy waits for possession cases to the processed.
•    Abolish local licensing once the new property portal is introduced.

Chief Executive Ben Beadle has given evidence on proposals, to the influential Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee throwing its weight behind the NRLA’s plans on everything from court reform, a review of landlord tax and student lets.

Ben has also met with Michael Gove twice in the last two months to explain the NRLA proposals in greater detail and the Housing Minister, Rachael Maclean. 

He said: “Next week will mark the culmination of years of hard work by the NRLA and its legacy organisations to ensure landlords get a fair deal from the Government’s reform package.

“We are keen to see the finalised proposals and will be going through the Bill with a fine-tooth comb to ensure what’s in there is realistic and workable, and will encourage a robust and vibrant private sector.

“Whatever is announced next week, it’s important to remember it is not a fait accompli. There will still be a number of hurdles for the Bill to clear before it passes into law, with the NRLA and other stakeholders given the opportunity to submit evidence for further amendments. 

“Keep an eye on the NRLA’s news site and social media channels for up to the minute information on the Bill and live reaction on the day.”

What happens next?

It could take a number of months for the Bill to pass into law. The process includes readings in both the Commons and the Lords and will include opportunities for amendments to be tabled: 

•    First Reading: This is held in the House of Commons, when the bill is first published
•    Second Reading: This is the first opportunity for MPs to debate the main principles of the Bill and usually takes place no sooner than two weekends after first reading.
•    Committee stage: A committee of MPs will scrutinise the bill line by line, offering the first opportunity to propose, debate and vote on suggested amendments and new clauses. 
•    Call for evidence: The Committee will also issue a call for written and oral evidence. Evidence, which will be provided by groups including the NRLA, should focus on improvements needed and suggested amendments and new clauses.
•    Report stage: All MPs will have an opportunity to table, debate and, if needed, vote upon further suggested amendments and new clauses to the Bill.
•    Third reading: The final chance for the Commons to debate the contents of the Bill. It usually takes place immediately after report stage as the next item of business on the same day. 

A similar process the takes place in the House of Lords.

Any amendments have to be agreed by both Houses, the Commons and the Lords after which the Bill can be sent to the King for Royal Assent, and move into law.

Read more about Rental Reform here.