Renters Reform Bill White paper released – The Future of the Private Rental Sector

Author: Richard Pulford

Associate Solicitor (Dispute resolution), Boyes Turner

We are a step closer to understanding the future of the private rental sector with the release of the White Paper for the Renters Reform Bill. This piece of legislation is going to be the biggest shake up to the rental market since the Housing Act 1988 and so needs to be monitored carefully by landlords, letting agents and tenants over the coming years to ensure that all parties are prepared.

The white paper sets out the elements that will be covered in the eventual legislation. Not in enough detail to establish the finer detail of the plans or logistically how it will all work but it certainly gives a reading of the intent of government and what will eventually be included. The main elements have support from all sides and so subject to certain inevitable alterations, should go through parliament without too much objection. Following the white paper release, we would expect the bill to be drawn up later this year which starts the process of becoming an Act of Parliament.

This is going to be the biggest shake up to the rental market since the Housing Act 1988

As well as the main headline of the banning of section 21 notices, the white paper also includes:

> A ban on unreasonable refusal by landlords to keep pets in a rental property

> Housing standards requirements that landlord will need to meet

> A legislative ban on landlords refusing to let to families with children or that are in receipt of housing benefits solely for that reason

> Doubling the notice period required for landlords to increase the rent

> A new ombudsman scheme to deal with disputes between landlords and tenants without needing to go to court

> Incorporating grounds for landlords to recover possession if they are looking to sell the property even where the tenant is not in breach

> Introducing a new property portal that will help landlords to understand their responsibilities as well as giving councils and tenants the information they need to enforce against the worst offenders

I would argue that many of these are not new conditions or revolutionary ideas.

Housing standards has been recently legislated for in the Homes (Fitness of Human Habitation) Act. In recent cases involving the charity Shelter, the courts have determined landlords or managing agent policies with a blanket ban on tenants on benefits are already unlawful and discriminatory. Tenants are able try to oppose unreasonable refusal to keep pets using The Consumer Rights Act 2015 or the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. However if these problems are persisting despite the pre-existing authority above then it may be useful to re-iterate, clarify or toughen up the obligations.

It will be interesting when the bill is eventually released in full to see how the new protections differ, if at all, to those already in existence.

It is going to be important not to jump to conclusions on this before we see the actual bill and eventual final legislation.

There have already been a number of articles on the topic citing headlines along the lines of … Landlords banned from refusing pets. Obviously this is the type of title that will attract attention and questions from incoming and existing tenants. However, this extracts the nuance. For example with pets, the proposal is for a ban on unreasonable refusal not an overall ban. Many landlords may have good grounds to refuse pets in properties and the right to do so looks like it will be protected in the upcoming legislation. Equally, the legislation is still some time away from becoming binding on landlords and agents. The bill itself needs to be drafted and debate through parliament will be required before that.
the Future of the Private Rental Sector
Despite the above, there are some radical changes incoming. An end to no-fault notices and the implementation of a landlord ombudsman scheme are not going to be easy and will require a lot of planning so this is still not going to be an overnight change. However after waiting over 3 years from the initial policy decision regarding section 21 notices we are moving closer to the inevitable and this change will be happening sooner rather than later.

When giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, Boyes Turner cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems it is recommended that professional advice be sought.

About Boyes Turner

Boyes Turner are a regional UK law firm with an impressive international reach. The expertise of their teams is considerable, spanning the corporate world, technology and private clients. Richard Pulford is an Associate in the firm’s Property Disputes team with over 10 years of experience in property law. He advises on all elements of residential and commercial property matters. (

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