United Kingdom

Uncertainty continues over Renters (Reform) Bill

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A hand striking a gavel next to a model house

A month on from the publication of the Renters (Reform) Bill, how much more do we know about the biggest change in private rented sector regulation since the Tenant Fees Act?

For many letting agents, the answer is “not enough”. At a Q&A webinar last month co-hosted with PayProp, agent support service HF Assist said uncertainty over the bill is the number one reason agents are calling their helpline.

Open questions

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has added to the confusion by giving out mixed messages on some parts of the bill. According to DLUHC, the new rules on pets in rented properties will apply to new tenancies at first, and then be extended to existing tenancies. But in a recent e-mail, the department told animal rights campaigners that the measures would only apply to existing tenancies at first.

So far, the government has also failed to address many of the concerns raised by property professionals. There have been no details on the digitisation of the court process – which is supposed to speed up eviction cases. Now that landlords are struggling with bailiff shortages as well as court delays, moving all evictions to the Section 8 process looks like an even riskier decision.

There has also been no reply to student landlords who warn that the mandated switch to periodic tenancies will destroy their businesses. Politicians are reportedly considering an amendment, but for now, housing providers are left in limbo.

In some areas, however, the government has shared more details. According to information passed on by Propertymark, the Property Portal referenced in the bill will soon be introduced, containing details of all residential landlords and residential rental properties as well as a database of landlords who have received banning orders. In the future, the portal will be expanded to include information on property standards – but as separate legislation will be used to extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector, there are no specifics yet on what that will look like.

The clock is ticking

The government hasn’t announced a date for the bill’s second reading yet – and with just over a month until the start of the summer recess, they don’t have long to fit it in.

Meanwhile, landlords are voting with their feet. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors says two thirds of its members have seen more landlords than usual selling their properties over the last six months, as well as a fall in new investment. The longer the uncertainty continues, the more damage will be done to the private rented sector.

Other regulation headlines

Grudging support for agents strictly observing Fees Ban – Letting Agent Today

Estate agents fined for breaching anti-money laundering rules – Property Industry Eye

The Future Homes Standard – what will it mean for housebuilders? – Property Reporter

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