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Renters Reform Bill: An ongoing tale of promises and problems

Back in 2019, the Government promised a ban on so-called no-fault evictions. Section 21 was to be outlawed. While some housing campaigners celebrated the proposal, the private rental sector was thrown into a state of uncertainty and confusion which has continued to this day.

A third reading of what has become the very controversial Renters (Reform) Bill has just taken place in the House of Commonswith over 200 amendments up for consideration.

Only the previous day, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, had watered down his earlier bold promise that the bill would be on the statute books before the next election which, at the latest, means by January 2025. If Gove is pinning his hopes on a smooth passage of the bill through the House of Lords, he may be disappointed. Many of those 200-plus amendments are minor, but others are both significant and contentious – suggesting that the onward progress of the bill might not be as straightforward as the Government wishes.


Amongst the amendments is the emotive issue of the no-fault (Section 21) eviction. The latest proposals include an assessment of the courts and barriers to possession before abolishing Section 21 provisions for existing tenancies. Quite what that means in practice is yet to be seen.

Other amendments include changes to the grounds for possession of student properties, which should ensure the student-let market can continue to operate effectively.

Another important change is a proposal for an initial six-month tenancy term, which will give some much-needed reassurance to landlords. Sekhon also welcomed a review of the effectiveness and cost of council licensing schemes and their role alongside the proposed property portal.

There’s also a proposed expansion of homelessness prevention duty placed on local authorities to include cases where a tenant has been served a valid Section 8 notice.

Those supporting renters’ rights will, no doubt, be claiming that the proposed amendments represent a watering down of the Government’s plans. But from the landlord’s perspective, the proposals are practical. Propoly’s Sim Sekhon believes they will help to ensure a property rental sector that works for both landlord and tenant. He told us, ‘The legislation has provoked strong views from the outset because landlords have legitimate concerns. I am pleased that the Government has responded to some of them.’

Amendments aside, Sim Sekhon believes the bill still has a long way to go. Indeed, he believes the abolition of Section 21 may not be achieved for several years. The proverbial spanner in the works is the inability of the under-resourced judicial system to cope with the sheer volume of legitimate possession cases, which has prompted the calls for a review of the entire process, its operation and its funding, as detailed in one of the amendments. Until that’s complete, progress on the abolition of Section 21 cannot be made. What’s more, the role of local authorities in the regulation of the private rented sector means that reform is complex.

The bill has been controversial since it was originally drafted, with many landlords objecting to what they saw as an unfair bias towards the rights of tenants. Many have already responded by leaving the sector, but from May 1st, landlords who have had enough will find it more costly to quit. Court fees for all possession applications are set to rise in the region of 10–15 per cent, with those needing to secure the services of a bailiff facing a steep increase in costs.

The debate on this bill is far from over, but it does seem that progress is being made. The uncertainty that has disrupted the lettings industry may be coming to an end, but according to Sim Sekhon, we shouldn’t hold our breath.

* Sim Sekhon is the managing director of Propoly *

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    Labour has pledged to end Section 21 evictions as soon as they take power. That key point can't be forgotten.


    Labour also pledged to abolish leasehold in the first 100 days but have now back peddled.

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    So the opposition party decides to do it for them.

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    Of course, it is conceivable that Labour might not win the next election if:

    1. The Tories do very badly in the May elections.
    2. The requisite number of letters of no confidence in Rishi Sunak are sent to the 1922 Committee triggering a leadership contest.
    3. A new Tory leader is appointed who moves the party to the Right taking up many of the Reform policies so that Reform is finished as a political force.
    4. The Tory vote is no longer split and there are enough Tory policies to appeal to those who voted for Brexit in 2019 - and the Renters Reform legislation is ditched as well thus leading to more landlord and tenant votes for the Tories.


    You are correct, Ellie.
    The last time the Conservatives were Conservative was when Maggie was in charge. The rot started when that weasel Major took over and went progressively left wing with each leader. Boris at least delivered a form of Brexit and we know what happened to him. Truss tried to be conservative and was removed very quickly.

    I always have a wry smile when my Welsh relatives bang on about Maggie destroying the pits when in fact, Labour closed more pits than she did. 😱


    Get rid of back stabbing Sunak and Gove then there might be a chance

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    When Theresa May former Prime Minister for a few years put scrapping Section 21 in the Manifesto on bad advice by those around her, little did she know the can of worms she was opening
    It has now become a farce just imagine those people in Parliament are so deranged how could they have 200
    amendments or why on earth would there be more than 200 proposals in there to start with when there are hundreds more existing for years. That says it all and how far out they are, it’s to let a properly or a room even you could write enough rules on the back of a fag box.
    Why not put MP’s on paid leave let them stay at home and send them their salaries, to stop them doing damage.


    Treason May was and is, no true Conservative. I am just surprised that she does not self-combust when she goes to Church.


    These people who come up with super-authoritarian left-wing legislation believe they are doing good. They are self-righteous and ignorant.

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    Yes Ellie you are certainly spot on there, ''self-righteous and ignorant'' sums them up perfectly

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    A promise:
    Most people: something you state you will do, that another person can trust will definitely happen.
    Michael Gove: something you state you will do, that only the naive would trust, with no real intention of doing if it proves to be difficult or unrealistic.


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