As you will probably be aware, the Government has previously confirmed its commitment to reforming the residential private rented sector, in response to a perceived unfairness of the current law as towards renters. We have seen that the Government has consulted upon a possible Renters’ Reform Bill.
I have previously spoken to many of our clients and contacts about the challenges that the proposed legislation could pose for landlords of residential properties. The proposal to abolish Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) and further to curtail the ability to serve Section 21 notices requiring possession, often known as no fault notices, will have a significant negative impact upon landlords. If the Renters’ Reform Bill became law it would, in my opinion, be a game changer for the private rented sector.
However, there is now some doubt whether the Renters’ Reform Bill, in anything like its current form, will become law anytime soon.
The steps taken by the Government, to date, are:
- February 2022: The Government published the Levelling Up White Paper
In this, it recommitted to bringing forward the Renters’ Reform Bill and scrapping section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions
- May 2022: The Government promised a Renters’ Reform Bill in the Queen’s Speech
It announced that the bill would abolish section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and introduce a register of landlords
- June 2022: The Government published A Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper
In this, it set out the details of its plans for the Renters’ Reform Bill, to abolish section 21 ’no fault’ possession notices and ASTs
- 24 November 2022: Michael Gove said that the Renters’ Reform Bill will be brought forward in this parliamentary session
Whilst speaking on the BBC, Michael Gove, when pressed, would only confirm that legislation reforming the private rented sector will be brought before Parliament “during 2023”. However, given the likely scrutiny this Bill will receive in Parliament, the later in 2023 it is introduced, the less chance it will become law. When this Parliament ends is within the gift of the Prime Minister. He may dissolve Parliament and call an election at any time up to and including 17 December 2024. If a Renters’ Reform Bill has not become law before the dissolution of this Parliament, it will be lost.
Rumours have been reported that the Government, under pressure from its MPs, may be about to drop the proposed abolition of ’no fault’ evictions. If that were to happen the proposed legislation would be significantly watered down, probably to the relief of landlords. Who knows? Whilst such a development might be welcomed by landlords, the continuing uncertainty will not.