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Antony Antoniou – Luxury Property Expert

Renters Reform Bill – Summary

Renters Reform Bill – Summary

The Renters’ (Reform) Bill outlines plans to abolish section 21, strengthen section 8, transition to Assured Tenancies as standard, create more rights for tenants to keep pets in lets – and more.

The government introduced the Renters’ (Reform) Bill to parliament on 17 May 2023. These “once-in-a-generation” reforms aim to deliver “safer, fairer, and higher quality homes”.

Now that the bill has been presented to parliament, MPs will have the opportunity to consider and debate the bill at a second reading – although reports suggest that this may now not take place until the autumn.


This guide to the Renters (Reform) Bill covers:

  1. What is the Renters (Reform) Bill?
  2. Why is the Renters (Reform) Bill being introduced?
  3. What was originally proposed in the A Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper?
  4. When will the second reading of the Renters (Reform) Bill take place?
  5. What’s included in the Renters (Reform) Bill?
    1. Section 21 “no fault” evictions to be abolished
    2. Periodic tenancies to become standard
    3. Notice periods for rent increases to be doubled
    4. Tenants given more rights to keep pets in properties
    5. A new ombudsman covering all private landlords
    6. A new property portal for private landlords and tenants
    7. Future proposed changes for the private rented sector
      1. Applying the Decent Home Standard to the private rented sector
      2. Bans on renting to families with children or those on benefits to be outlawed

What is the Renters (Reform) Bill?

The Renters (Reform) Bill sets out the government’s plans to fundamentally reform the private rented sector (PRS) and level up housing quality.

The proposed reforms commit to “bring in a better deal for renters” and marks  “the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in 30 years”.

The bill, introduced to parliament on 17 May 2023, will need to pass through parliament before becoming law. Housing Secretary Michael Gove told BBC Newsbeat he hoped to see the bill in place “as quickly as possible.”

Why is the Renters (Reform) Bill being introduced?

The private rented sector is a vital part of the UK housing market. More than four million properties are privately rented, with numbers having doubled since 2004.

The government says that under current legislation, some renters face “a precarious lack of security” – especially in terms of Section 21 “no fault” evictions. Meanwhile, responsible landlords are facing issues by being “undercut by a minority of criminal landlords”.

While the government has set out plans in its bill, it has further ambitions for the sector – highlighting that nearly a quarter of private rented homes “do not meet basic decency standards”. In the future it aims to apply a Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector.

What was originally proposed in the A Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper?

The government first published the full extent of its plans in a white paper – A Fairer Private Rented Sector  in June 2022.

The white paper proposed measures such as making all tenancies periodic, doubling the notice periods for rent reviews, and establishing a new property portal and a new property ombudsman.

Most of the measures proposed in the white paper were included in the bill, published 2023, with a few exceptions that will be considered as “further improvements”. This includes requiring rented properties to meet the Decent Homes Standard and making it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits.

When will the second reading of the Renters (Reform) Bill take place?

All signs now point to the second reading being delayed until the autumn. The parliamentary schedule allows little room for the bill’s inclusion before the summer recess on 20 July.

David Smith, Head of Property Litigation at JMW Solicitors, has shared his view on what progress the industry can expect to see in the coming months, if its second reading doesn’t take place in July.

“In principle, this could involve a second reading when Parliament returns in September but in practice Parliament is only back for a short time before immediately going back into recess for party conferences,” he says.

“After that we also need to have a budget and [probably] a King’s speech before December so there is not actually a huge amount of time to do this before Christmas.”

What’s included in the Renters (Reform) Bill?

1. Section 21 “no fault” evictions to be abolished

The bill confirms plans to abolish Section 21 – a process that enables private landlords to repossess their properties. Instead, landlords will only be able to evict a tenant under reasonable circumstances.

The 2022 government white paper states that “Removing Section 21 will level the playing field between landlord and tenant – empowering tenants to challenge poor practice and unjustified rent increases, as well as incentivising landlords to engage and resolve issues.”

Michael Gove further reiterated the government’s view that no fault evictions can be “cruel and heartless”.


In place of section 21, the bill outlines proposals to strengthen section 8. This allows a landlord to end a tenancy agreement early if they have a legal reason to do so.

This includes the introduction of a new mandatory ground for repeated rent arrears. This makes eviction mandatory where a tenant has been in at least two months’ rent arrears three times within the previous three years, regardless of the arrears balance at hearing.

There is also a new ground that means landlords can apply section 8 to a tenancy if they wish to sell a property, or if they wish to allow their family members to move into a rental property. This can apply after a tenant has been in a property for at least six months.

Grounds for possession

Landlords will be able to end a tenancy in specific circumstances defined in law. The grounds for possession are outlined here:

Table 1: Reformed grounds for possession

Ground Explanation Notice Period Mandatory or discretionary
Moving in The landlord or their close family member wishes to move into the property. 2 months Mandatory
Selling The landlord wishes to sell the property 2 months Mandatory
Student accommodation In the 12 months prior to the start of the tenancy the property has been used to house students. This can be used by educational establishments and PBSA only. 2 weeks Mandatory
Mortgage repossession The property is subject to a mortgage and the lender exercises a power of sale requiring vacant possession 2 months Mandatory
Superior lease ending The landlord’s lease is under a superior tenancy that is terminated by the superior landlord. 2 months Mandatory
Selling (rent-to-buy) The landlord is a private registered provider of social housing and there is a rent-to-buy agreement 2 months Mandatory


The government has committed to work in partnership with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

In the A fairer rental sector white paper, the government stated its intention to introduce a package of “wide-ranging court reforms that will target the areas that particularly frustrate and hold up possession proceedings”.

2. A single system of periodic tenancies

The bill confirms the government’s ambition to simplify existing tenancy structures, by moving all Assured Shorthold Tenancies onto a single system of periodic tenancies.

Assured Shorthold Tenancies are currently the most standard type of rental agreement in the private rented sector. It is a common process for tenants to enter into a contract of six or 12 months. After this time has elapsed, a decision would be made to either renew the contract or switch to a periodic (e.g. month by month) payment.

Instead, the Renters (Reform) Bill proposes that all rental properties will be under a periodic tenancy – rolling by every month without having a specified end date.

The proposals outline that tenants would then need to provide two months’ notice when leaving a tenancy, to “ensure landlords can recoup the costs of finding a tenant and avoid lengthy void periods”.

In addition, landlords would only be able to evict a tenant under “reasonable” circumstances.

3. Notice periods for rent increases to be doubled

Rent increases will be limited to once per year and the minimum notice landlords must provide of any change in rent will be increased to two months.


The Renters’ (Reform) Bill white paper outlines plans to end the use of rent review clauses, “preventing tenants being locked into automatic rent increases that are vague or may not reflect changes in the market price” and says that “any attempts to evict tenants through unjustifiable rent increases are unacceptable”.

However, landlords and agents will be able to raise rents once a year in line with the market rates – similar to the current section 13 rules – with two months’ notice of any increase shared with tenants.

The government will publish a new form that would need to be served to tenants to let them know that you plan to increase their rents. If the tenant agrees, they’ll simply pay the increased rent.

If the tenant feels that the increase is disproportionate, the government will “make sure that tenants have the confidence to challenge unjustified rent increases through the First-tier Tribunal.

However, it’s also expected that the courts will be able to choose to increase rents for tenants, helping to make tenants to do their own research before challenging an increase.

It will also “prevent the Tribunal increasing rent beyond the amount landlords initially asked for when they proposed a rent increase”.

4. Tenants given more rights to keep pets in properties

The Renters (Reform) Bill outlines that tenants can request permission to pet in their home and that landlords cannot unreasonably withhold consent.

A landlord must accept or refuse consent by the 42nd day after the date of the request. This can be extended by a week if a landlord asks for further information.


The bill is slightly stricter than the white paper. It indicates that a tenant must provide in writing confirmation that they have acquired insurance for their pet, or that they are willing to pay the landlord reasonable costs to cover the landlord’s insurance in case of pet damage.

5. A new ombudsman covering all private landlords

Landlords “may” be required to join a government-approved ombudsman covering all private landlords who rent out property in England – regardless of whether they use a letting agent.

A landlord redress scheme would enable a former or current tenant to be able to make a complaint against a landlord, which would then be independently investigated.

The bill outlines its conditions for what the redress scheme should include, but more details are needed on when the scheme would be set up.


The ombudsman would have powers to “put things right for tenants”, including compelling landlords to issue an apology, provide information, take remedial action, and/or pay compensation of up to £25,000.

The government also intends for the ombudsman to be able to require landlords to reimburse rent to tenants where the “service or standard of property they provide falls short of the mark”.

The ombudsman’s decision will be binding on landlords, should the complainant accept the final determination and failure to comply with a decision may result in repeat or serious offenders being liable for a Banning Order.


In all cases, it seems that membership will be mandatory. The white paper says that “making membership of an ombudsman scheme mandatory for landlords who use managing agents will mitigate the situation where a good agent is trying to remedy a complaint but is reliant on a landlord who is refusing to engage”.

It will also ensure that tenants have access to redress services in “any given situation, and that landlords remain accountable for their own conduct and legal responsibilities”.

6. New Property Portal for private landlords and tenants

A new digital property portal will be introduced to “provide a single ‘front door’ to help landlords understand, and demonstrate compliance with their legal requirements.”

The government says that “too often tenants find out too late that they are renting a substandard property from landlords who wilfully fail to comply, and councils don’t know who to track down when serious issues arise.”

It notes that the portal will also “support good landlords to demonstrate regulatory compliance and to attract prospective tenants.”


The nature of the portal is yet to be determined, with the government to “conduct extensive testing of potential solutions for the portal, underpinned by user research and engagement with representative groups, to make sure the system works for tenants, landlords and local councils.”

The portal should be flexible enough to support future policy developments, “supporting efforts to raise standards in the sector and reduce the number of non-decent rented homes by 50% by 2030.” This could include a system where landlords and agents must meet minimum standards before properties can be let.


The portal aims to provide a solution to these issues, with landlords legally required to register their property on the portal and local councils empowered to take enforcement action against private landlords that fail to join the portal.

The portal will “dramatically increase local councils’ ability to enforce against criminal landlords”. The government plans  to incorporate some of the functionality of the existing Database of Rogue Landlords and Property Agents.

7. Future proposed changes for the private rented sector

1. Applying the Decent Home Standard to the private rented sector

The white paper – A fairer private rented sector – published in 2022, suggested that there would be the introduction of minimum housing standards requirements that would “require privately rented homes to meet the Decent Homes Standard for the first time”.

The Decent Homes Standard – as it stands – currently only applies to the social housing sector. It outlines that homes must be free from serious health and safety hazards and landlords must keep homes in a good state of repair so renters have clean, appropriate and useable facilities.

On publishing the Renters (Reform) Bill in May 2023, the government stated it remained committed to this course of action. However, it needed to continue its ongoing consultation on the sector and would therefore set out its next steps in “due course”.

2. Bans on renting to families with children or those on benefits to be outlawed

The government has indicated that it plans to bring forward legislation “at the earliest opportunity” to further protect people with children or people on benefits. This does not form part of the proposed Renters’ Reform Bill at this stage.

However, the BBC has reported that the Scottish and UK governments are planning to work together to implement a law on this topic, to make sure that landlords can’t exclude tenants with children or on benefits from renting homes.

However, a spokesperson for the Scottish government has said that the talks “must include a close examination of the UK government’s decision to freeze Local Housing Allowance rates at 2020 levels for the third year running”, as affordability is “the far more significant barrier to accessing a privately rented home”.

Summary Conclusion

The Renters (Reform) Bill aims to bring significant changes to the UK private rented sector, focusing on tenant rights and housing quality. Introduced in May 2023, the bill seeks to create safer, fairer, and higher-quality rental homes. While the second reading might be delayed until autumn, the proposed reforms are substantial and can be summarized as follows:

**Key Reforms:**

1. **Abolishing Section 21 “No Fault” Evictions:**
– Landlords will only be able to evict tenants under reasonable circumstances.
– Strengthens Section 8 to provide valid grounds for eviction.

2. **Transition to Assured Tenancies:**
– All Assured Shorthold Tenancies will become periodic, rolling month-to-month agreements.
– Tenants will need to give two months’ notice when leaving.

3. **Notice Periods and Rent Increases:**
– Minimum notice period for rent increases will be doubled to two months.
– Rent increases limited to once per year, aligned with market rates.

4. **Tenant Pet Rights:**
– Tenants can request to keep pets; landlords can’t unreasonably withhold consent.
– Tenants must confirm pet insurance or agree to cover potential damages.

5. **New Ombudsman for Private Landlords:**
– Landlords may be required to join a government-approved ombudsman scheme.
– Scheme enables tenants to file complaints independently and receive compensation.

6. **Digital Property Portal:**
– A new portal will help landlords and tenants understand and comply with legal requirements.
– Supports enforcement against substandard properties and improves transparency.

7. **Future Proposals:**
– Applying Decent Home Standard to private rentals to ensure quality and safety.
– Banning exclusion of families with children or those on benefits from renting.

The Renters Reform Bill represents a comprehensive effort to enhance tenant rights, promote higher housing standards, and hold landlords accountable. While certain details are still being refined, the proposed changes signal a significant shift in the landscape of the private rented sector in the UK.

It is my opinion that this Bill is little more than appearing to act, when in fact it will do nothing to help landlords or tenants. The courts will be backed up with applications, an increasing number of tenants will be living in limbo, whilst they are being dragged through the courts, there are loopholes which will not help tenants and it has already caused a mass exodus of landlords which has caused even more harm to tenants.

It would have been far more effective to offer incentives to landlords to offer longer leases, mandatory annual inspections, to ensure that property is not only safe, but suitable for housing. It would have also been wise to have introduced a mandatory qualification for landlords to be granted a licence, in order for them to rent property.

Rather than address this issue with a strategy that would improve the situation for all, the government, as always, is introducing yet more red-tape, that will do little to help anyone.

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