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Report stage and third reading of the Renters (Reform) Bill [15 of 2023-24], as amended in Public Bill Committee, are scheduled for 24 April 2024. This briefing provides an overview of the progress of the Bill through the House of Commons prior to report stage.

The Bill, together with its explanatory notes, impact assessment and transcripts of the parliamentary stages, are available on the Parliament website: Renters (Reform) Bill.

What would the Bill do?

The Bill primarily applies to England. It is intended to fulfil the 2019 Conservative manifesto commitment to create a fairer rental market for both tenants and landlords, and implement reforms set out in the Government’s white paper A fairer private rented sector (June 2022). In particular, it would provide greater security of tenure for tenants by abolishing section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and strengthen the grounds on which landlords could seek to repossess their properties.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published a series of guides to different parts of the Bill.

The Library briefing, Renters (Reform) Bill 2022-23, describes the Bill as it was originally introduced and explains its policy background.

Second reading in the Commons

The Renters (Reform) Bill [308 of 2022-23] was introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023 and had its second reading on 23 October 2023 where it was broadly welcomed. However, the Government was criticised for the length of time it had taken to bring the legislation forward.

Several MPs expressed concern about the Government’s decision to delay implementing the new tenancy regime until improvements had been made to the court possession system. The Opposition pressed the Government to clarify the implementation timetable to give tenants and landlords greater certainty.

Some MPs outlined specific changes to the Bill they hoped would be made in the Public Bill Committee. Several emphasised the importance of striking the right balance between protections for tenants and assurances for landlords.

The Bill was carried over from the 2022–23 parliamentary session to the 2023– 24 session.

Public Bill Committee in the Commons

The Bill was considered by a Public Bill Committee over 10 sittings in November 2023. The Committee took oral evidence from expert witnesses during the first four sittings.

The Government tabled 183 amendments to the Bill, including 52 new clauses and one new schedule, all of which were agreed. Many of the amendments were minor, technical or consequential. The substantive changes to the Bill included to:

  • allow landlords to recover possession of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) let to full-time students at the end of the academic year to ensure it is available for reletting to students in the next academic year.
  • prohibit landlords and letting agents from refusing to let to families with children or people who receive benefits. Local authorities could impose a penalty of up to £5,000 for a breach of the requirements.
  • enable regulations to be made to apply a decent homes standard to the private rented sector and empower local authorities to enforce it.
  • strengthen local authorities’ investigatory powers to respond to landlord practice, including to require information from property owners and to enter a property.
  • improve national oversight by requiring local authorities to report, at the request of the Secretary of State, on how they exercise their enforcement powers.
  • increase the maximum amount of rent that a First-tier Tribunal can order a landlord to repay from 12 to 24 months, and ensure that superior landlords can be liable for rent repayment orders as well as a tenant’s immediate landlord.

The Opposition tabled 81 amendments to the Bill (of which 14 were new clauses), none of which were agreed, including to:

  • require landlords and letting agents to state the proposed rent when advertising the property and prevent them from encouraging bids that exceed that amount.
  • restrict the maximum amount of rent a landlord could request before a tenancy begins.
  • strengthen tenants’ rights to request to keep a pet.
  • prevent a First-tier Tribunal from increasing rent above the level proposed by a landlord in a notice under section 13 of the Housing Act 1988.
  • strengthen protections for tenants around the grounds for possession, including increasing the minimum notice periods.
  • increase the maximum financial penalties for landlords who breach the renters’ reform legislation.
  • enable rent repayment orders to be made against landlords for less serious, non-criminal breaches of the legislation.

The Shadow Housing Minister, Matthew Pennycook, indicated that Labour might return to some of these issues at a later stage of the Bill.

Amendments at report stage in the Commons

The amendments tabled to date for the Bill’s report stage can be viewed on the Parliament website: Renters (Reform) Bill.

In February 2024, the BBC reported that the Government was consulting backbench Conservative MPs on amendments to address their concerns about the Bill.

A leaked letter from the Levelling Up Minister, Jacob Young, to Conservative MPs on 27 March 2024, published by Rightsnet, confirmed the Government’s intention to bring forward amendments at report stage in the Commons (PDF) to:

  • prevent a tenant from ending a tenancy within the first six months (with some exemptions).
  • require the Lord Chancellor to publish an assessment of the readiness of the county court possession system before abolishing section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.
  • apply the new ground for possession for student lettings to all properties, not just HMOs.
  • prevent landlords from letting their property as short-term or holiday accommodation for three months after using the possession grounds to move into or sell their property.
  • require local authorities to work with tenants who have been served a section 8 eviction notice to prevent them becoming homeless.
  • require a review of the implementation of the tenancy reforms within 18months of measures being applied to existing tenancies.

The Minister also committed to undertake a review of local authority private rented sector licensing schemes with “the aim of reducing burdens on landlords”.

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