After four years of anticipation and speculation, the Renters' Reform Bill, a comprehensive plan to revamp the rental sector, has finally been presented to Parliament. The bill encompasses changes to eviction laws, the establishment of a Private Rental Ombudsman to address disputes, and measures to expedite the existing court process. Although the bill is subject to scrutiny and potential amendments by MPs and members of the House of Lords, it is important for landlords in Crawley to understand the current proposals and their implications.

Evictions are at the forefront of the proposed changes, garnering significant attention. In essence, the bill will eliminate Section 21 and "no-fault" evictions while strengthening Section 8. This means that landlords will be required to provide a reason for evicting a tenant. Under the enhanced Section 8 rules, there are now 17 official grounds for possession. These include situations where the landlord intends to reside in or make the property available to a family member, sell the property, or carry out property redevelopment (at least six months after the start of the tenancy). Other grounds include tenant breaches of the tenancy agreement, serious rent arrears, deterioration of the property caused by the tenant's conduct, or if the tenancy was granted based on false statements.

Despite concerns within the industry about the abolition of Section 21, it is important for landlords not to panic. They will still be able to regain possession of their property if they wish to sell or redevelop, albeit through a slightly different process. Additionally, the bill reduces the notice period for landlords seeking to evict irresponsible tenants and streamlines the eviction process for cases involving missed rental payments.

Regarding pets, tenants now have the right to request to keep a pet in the property, and landlords cannot unreasonably refuse their request. However, it is still unclear what would be considered an "unreasonable" refusal. Tenants must provide written confirmation that they have pet damage insurance.

To facilitate dispute resolution, a new Private Rental Ombudsman will be introduced. This allows landlords and tenants to resolve disputes without the need for the slow and costly court route. In cases where evictions proceed to court, the bill aims to make greater use of digital platforms to reduce delays.

In terms of rent, landlords can increase rents once a year but must provide two months' notice. Furthermore, blanket bans on renting to individuals with children or those on benefits will no longer be permissible.

The Government aims to have the bill enacted into law before the next general election. Even after it becomes law, there will be a minimum of six months' notice before any new regulations take effect.

While the Renters' Reform Bill introduces changes, responsible landlords who already fullfill their duties diligently may experience a relatively minor shift. Key principles such as implementing thorough tenant selection processes, maintaining open lines of communication to prevent disputes, and upholding property standards remain essential. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend that all landlords familiarize themselves with the new rules, particularly the strengthened conditions outlined in Section 8.

For a more detailed discussion about how the Renters' Reform Bill may affect your rental portfolio, we encourage you to call Ben on 01293552 388.