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An update on the Renters (Reform) Bill

Posted 18/04/2024 by Reeds Rains
Categories: Landlords/Lettings
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Although it's looking increasingly doubtful that we'll see the Renters (Reform) Bill passed into law this side of the upcoming general election, it is continuing to make its way through Parliament.

However, progress has slowed, with the Committee still to formally report on the debates it held last November – and this needs to happen before the third reading can take place.

On the positive front, there have been a number of welcome changes to the original proposals along the way.

See our article, ‘20 things landlords need to know about the Renters (Reform) Bill’ for all the key information about the first draft.


Following the second reading in the Commons in November 2023, the Government added in various minor technical amendments and some significant updates, including:

  • A ground allowing House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) student landlords to regain possession of their property in line with the academic year - subject to meeting certain conditions, including giving at least two months’ notice and requiring possession between 1st June and 30th September.
  • The power to set a new Decent Homes Standard for the Private Rented Sector (PRS), with details to be confirmed in due course.

In January this year, further amendments were proposed, notably:

  • Extending the possession ground applicable to landlords of student HMOs, to landlords of smaller, non-HMO properties. This is to ensure that tenancies for the whole student private rental sector can function in the same way.
  • Helping landlords tackle tenants’ anti-social behaviour by modifying the wording of section 8, ground 14, from “likely to cause nuisance” to “capable of causing nuisance”.

What are the latest changes?

Most recently, at the end of March, the Government wrote to Conservative MPs, outlining its latest set of proposed changes, which are expected to be tabled after the Easter recess. These include:

  • Delaying the abolishing of section 21 until there has been a full review of the court process to make sure the system is able to cope with the increased workload. Michael Gove had already indicated last year that this was the Government’s intention.
  • Ensuring that tenants cannot give two months’ notice within the first four months of a tenancy, essentially requiring a minimum six-month commitment from them.
  • Enabling landlords with student tenants to tailor rental contracts to the academic year. This addresses the legitimate concerns of student landlords around the original proposal in the Bill that fixed-term Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) should be scrapped and ensures properties can be available for students to rent from the start of each university or college year.
  • Making sure that landlords don’t have to duplicate information supplied to any council licensing schemes and the new landlord property registration scheme. This includes a review of whether selective licensing will even be needed once the proposed Property Portal has been established.

These proposals are all good news, as they address many of the biggest concerns of landlords and letting agents, and we hope they do indeed make it into the next draft of the Bill.

Propertymark’s Timothy Douglas commented:

“The Government’s commitment to review the implementation of the move to open-ended tenancies and establish an initial six-month tenancy period for tenants, does provide more certainty for agents and their landlords. It is also pleasing to see [their commitment] to further assessments and measures to ensure the current inadequacies that exist in the court system are tackled before removing no-fault evictions.”

House of Lords urges Government to get on with statutory regulation of property agents

Part of the wider reforms for the sector that have been on the table for years alongside the Renters (Reform) Bill, is the regulation of property agents in England.

While agents do have to be registered with a redress scheme and have client money protection insurance, there’s still no requirement for them to undergo mandatory training or work to a specific code of practice.

This leaves England as the only country in Great Britain not to have some form of agent regulation.

In Wales, agents undertaking letting and/or management responsibilities on behalf of a landlord must apply to Rent Smart Wales for an agent licence, complete approved training and comply with a Code of Practice.

Now, the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee is putting pressure on the Government to get on with establishing a regulator of property agents for England.

In its recent enquiry, the Committee found that a new regulator would make a significant positive difference to the sector through driving up standards and proactively enforcing against agents that engage in bad practices.

The Committee is also recommending that there be a single ombudsman for all property agents, as The Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme don’t operate to the same criteria or adjudicate against members in the same way.

This means there’s currently a lack of clarity for consumers and inconsistencies in complaint procedures against agents.

With the General Election looming, it’s worth noting that Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister has confirmed the party’s commitment to introducing agent regulation.

In January, Matthew Pennycook proposed an amendment to the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill, which would see the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group’s (RoPA) recommendations enacted within 24 months of the Bill becoming law.

While agents in England are still not regulated, how do I identify reputable ones?

Until agent regulation becomes law, it’s important to make sure that you work with an agent that operates to the highest industry standards, which means they should be a member of one of the self-regulating bodies:

At Reeds Rains, we’re members of ARLA Propertymark, which requires our Principals, Partners and Directors to achieve various formal qualification levels in residential lettings and our team members to undergo regular training.

It provides legal support and ensures all agents have Client Money Protection and professional indemnity insurance, membership of a government-approved redress scheme, and adhere to a strict code of conduct.

For more information and advice on how to identify the best agents, see our recent blog, ‘Comparing Landlord Services’.


If you’d like to discuss any aspect of how we can help let and manage your property, or to talk about our professional services in more detail, you can find the contact for your local lettings experts here.

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