United Kingdom

2023: The year of the Renters’ Reform Bill?

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A court room gavel resting on a book and model house

What private rented sector reforms will 2023 bring?

Late last year, Housing Secretary Michael Gove promised that the long-awaited Renters’ Reform Bill would be implemented in 2023.

If it arrives, the bill will scrap Section 21 “no fault” evictions, introduce a legally binding Decent Homes Standard and create a new Ombudsman position to solve disputes between landlords and tenants.

But in his first major 2023 address earlier this month, prime minister Rishi Sunak set out his top five priorities for the year – and while he pledged to tackle inflation and cut NHS waiting lists, housing wasn’t mentioned at all.

The Renters’ Reform Bill has already been postponed by successive governments, starting with Theresa May’s in 2019. Some industry commentators have already said that it is unlikely to be acted on this year. But postponing it again could cause more uncertainty for letting agents and landlords – something industry groups say is already damaging investment in the sector.

And it’s not the only big-ticket piece of legislation to be delayed. The government has said that it is still considering the recommendations of the 2019 Regulation of Property Agents report. Housing minister Lucy Frazer said that the government would work with estate and letting agents on best practices, but did not commit to any specific regulations or a timeline.

Dates for your diary

Politicians have promised other new rules this year. In the summer landlords will receive new official guidance about damp and mould in rented housing.

Some previously passed laws will also come into force. From the end of this month, estate agents may need to carry out more in-depth checks on overseas buyers under the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 to verify their details. From 1 April, estate and letting agents with an annual revenue of at least £10.2 million will need to start making payments to the government under the Economic Crime (Anti-Money Laundering) Levy. And from 1 June, the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will apply to existing tenancies in Wales. Landlords will need to convert their tenancy agreements to comply.

There are also some dates for short term let operators to remember. From April, holiday let owners in England will have to prove that their properties are let for at least 70 days of the year to qualify for business rates instead of council tax. Meanwhile, in Scotland, existing short-term let hosts will have to apply for a licence for each of their properties by 1 April. New short term lets have had to be licensed since last year.

Other regulation headlines

Making Tax Digital for landlords is delayed by two years – Property118

Propertymark CEO urges Scottish government to reverse tax hike – Property Industry Eye

Tax incentives best way to improve rental EPCs – claim – Letting Agent Today

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