Industry News Sally Walmsley 24/05/2024

Uncertain future for the PRS as reports Renters (Reform) Bill dropped

The Renters (Reform) Bill, the Government's masterplan to transform the private rented sector, is reported to have been dropped as a result of the general election announcement. 

The NRLA and other stakeholders had hoped the Bill could be dealt with in ‘wash-up’, the period between an election being called and the ‘proroguing’ of Parliament, which will take place later today. 

This allows for outstanding parliamentary business to be completed, with a way forward agreed between Conservative and Labour MPs. 

However, it has not been listed, with reports from Westminster suggesting the Bill has now failed. 

This means whoever triumphs at the polls on 4 July will need to start from scratch when it comes to developing new legislation around private rented housing. 

We have warned the impact such ‘crippling uncertainty’ could have on the market, with latest figures showing increasing numbers of landlords are already considering their future in the private rented sector. 

Our extensive lobbying work led to the inclusion of amendments that would ensure the legislation was fair to landlords, while allowing the Government to meet its commitment to tenants, and we are disappointed that a series of hold-ups have seen it fall at the last hurdle. 

Ben Beadle, our Chief Executive 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.”   

How did we get here? 

The Renters (Reform) Bill was first mooted in 2019. What followed was years of debate about what the Bill should look like, with the proposed legislation finally presented to Parliament in May last year. 

It was then five months before the second reading in the Commons, with many backbenchers objecting to the plans, causing significant delays to the progress of the Bill, which was still passing through the House of Lords when the election was called. 

Any parliamentary business not completed by the end of the ‘wash up’ period cannot become law and cannot be carried over to the next Parliament, and as such the Bill, still unlisted, looks to have failed. 

What happens next? 

Once the election has taken place the new Government will decide how to progress with plans to reform the private rented sector. Both the Conservatives and Labour have previously committed to abolishing Section 21, one of the cornerstones of the Renters (Reform) Bill, but it will be down to the new administration as to how they progress this – and what priority it is given. 

We may have more clarity on what approach the different parties may take once election manifestos are published in the coming weeks. 

More information 

Please follow our social media channels and keep an eye on the NRLA news site for all the latest on the General Election and rental reform going forward. 

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