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Renters Reform Bill Progresses with Amendments Despite Delays

The Renters (Reform) Bill has made headway in Parliament, but not without some setbacks and ongoing debate over key amendments, including the anticipated delay in banning Section 21 evictions until the court system is fully prepared.

Modifications to Court Assessments and Tenant Notices
During the latest parliamentary session, the bill advanced despite opposition, particularly from Labour MPs who criticised several of its proposals. A significant amendment backed by MPs requires the Lord Chancellor to evaluate the county court possession order process in England before the abolition of no-fault evictions, a shift from earlier promises that it would occur before the next general election.

In addition, a noteworthy amendment was approved, altering the notice period tenants must give; they can now only issue notice after six months of tenancy, except in certain situations like the death of a tenant or cases of domestic violence.

Adjustments to Housing Acts and Licensing Reviews
The debate also touched on broader housing issues, including the modification of the Housing Act 2004. The update ensures that both ‘superior’ landlords and rent-to-rent companies are accountable when issued with improvement notices and could face Rent Repayment Orders.

Housing Minister Jacob Young highlighted the separate roles of selective licensing and the upcoming property portal, promising a review to streamline processes. “The portal will be a resource for local authorities and help landlords understand their legal obligations, while selective licensing gives councils powers to address issues such as poor housing and crime,” Young stated.

Industry Reactions and Forward Look
The discussion around the Renters (Reform) Bill was vibrant, reflecting varied industry perspectives. Oli Sherlock, Managing Director of Insurance at Goodlord, noted, “The Renters (Reform) Bill involves much more than the abolition of Section 21 eviction notices. However, it was the main topic of conversation again in Parliament today.” He expressed disappointment over the vague details concerning funding for necessary court resources.

Ben Beadle, CEO of the National Residential Landlords Association, supported the bill’s progression, stating, “This bill delivers a fair deal for tenants and responsible landlords. It is now time to ensure the bill passes through parliament.”

Meanwhile, Labour MP Matthew Pennycook criticised the government’s vague timeline for the courts’ readiness to handle the abolition of Section 21, arguing that it could take years, thereby delaying crucial protections for tenants.

The bill now moves to further stages with a mixed reception, encapsulating the complexities of legislative changes aimed at balancing tenant protections with landlords’ interests in the evolving landscape of the UK’s private rented sector.