United Kingdom

Renters (Reform) Bill delay is an opportunity for agents

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The government has confirmed that the Renters (Reform) Bill won’t go ahead until at least September – giving the industry more time to make their voices heard on the one hand, but potentially risking further delays.

The House of Commons closes for the summer recess today, 20 July 2023, and MPs won’t return until 4 September. Even once they are back, they’re unlikely to make any immediate progress on the bill: politicians will spend just two weeks in Parliament before taking another four-week break for party conference season.

How things stand

While the expected second reading hasn’t happened, MPs haven’t been sitting around. Last week, a Select Committee got the chance to question Housing Minister Rachel Maclean and others from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

In that session, the government revealed that it’s considering making the new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman a combined redress scheme for landlords, agents and tenants. The government also plans to widen the range of anti-social behaviour that judges can consider in eviction cases, although it’s not yet clear what that will include.

What’s next?

While MPs have given a few more details, they still haven’t answered many of the outstanding questions about the Renters (Reform) Bill. Agents and landlords still don’t know what the final list of Section 8 eviction grounds will look like, or how digitisation will speed up the court process.

The government also hasn’t addressed the industry’s concerns that the bill will have unintended consequences, such as open-ended tenancies making student lets unworkable or tougher new regulations driving landlords out of the sector.

But the delay gives letting agents, landlords and other property professionals more time to make their voices heard. Earlier this month we launched our latest industry survey – Life after the Renters (Reform) Bill ­– to ask the lettings industry what the expected impact of the bill impact is likely to be, and what questions still need to be answered.

We plan to take the results of the survey into our meetings with politicians and officials over the coming months, and we’ll also give anyone who completes the survey (and leaves their e-mail address) early access to the resulting report.

Don’t miss this chance to have your say – and potentially help shape the rules that will govern our industry for decades to come.

Other regulation headlines:

Influential Labour group says tougher eviction rules needed to tackle poverty – LandlordZONE

Greater scrutiny of commission earned could prove a major ‘blow’ for agents – Property Industry Eye

Rent controls backfire – Propertymark speaks out – Letting Agent Today

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