Reforming the private rental sector

The Renters (Reform) Bill is a flagship piece of legislation introduced by Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove to deliver on the Government’s 2019 manifesto pledge to reform the private rented sector.

The LGA welcomed the Bill, which has the potential to deliver a fairer, more secure, and higher-quality private rented housing sector (PRS) for both tenants and landlords. 

In its first draft, the Bill introduced a range of reforms to achieve this, including: abolishing unfair Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions; ending the system of assured shorthold tenancies; creating a new register of PRS landlords and a property portal to improve data on the PRS, to drive up standards across the sector; and establishing an ombudsman to help tenants and landlords resolve disputes. 

We have argued for the Bill to go further in supporting tenants’ rights by providing stronger regulatory and enforcement powers, and for government to ensure sufficient funding – especially for councils – to enforce these measures.

Subsequently, the Bill’s progress has been marred by delays and the walking back of key measures, most concerningly the inclusion of a new commencement clause that would allow the Secretary of State to delay the implementation of the ban on Section 21 evictions indefinitely. 

We have raised strong concerns about this delay with the Government.

Since November, no progress has been made on the Bill. While other key pieces of legislation have continued their journeys through Parliament, the Renters (Reform) Bill has been left behind. 

This has drawn the ire of the voluntary and community sector and politicians across both Houses of Parliament, amid media and political speculation about possible amendments to the Bill that could weaken key measures, including the ban on ‘no fault’ evictions, the redress scheme and essential enforcement measures.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), in collaboration with leading anti-homelessness charity Crisis, is among those who have called on the Government to provide clarity on the future of the Bill.

In a letter to Mr Gove, the NRLA warned that time is running out to ensure the Bill can complete its passage through Parliament “with the proper consideration it deserves”. 

It continued: “The lack of progress and uncertainty about the future is destabilising and damaging for those living and working in the private-rented sector.”

While the Bill has stalled, the LGA is concerned that no-fault evictions have reached record levels and homelessness figures have soared. 

The latest mortgage and landlord possession statistics show that during 2023, landlord claims increased significantly across all repossession procedures.

The data shows that between October and December 2023, 7,527 landlords in England began a claim through the accelerated possession procedure, otherwise known as a Section 21 notice or no-fault eviction.

This represents a 23 per cent increase compared to the same period last year, which saw 6,101 claims. 

The ending of a private rented tenancy is the most common reason for a household being at risk of homelessness. 

At a time of acute housing shortages, when councils are spending at least £1.74 billion annually on supporting 104,000 households in temporary accommodation because of a lack of social housing, it is imperative the Government put an end to Section 21 evictions without delay.

The LGA will continue to lobby government and work with MPs from all parties who support these much-needed reforms.

Find out more about the LGA’s work in Parliament.


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