Renter’s (Reform) Bill & The UK General Election: What You Need to Know

What is the Renter’s Reform Bill?

The Renter’s (Reform) Bill was a piece of legislation proposed by the government to transform the private rental sector and provide more security for tenants. It was introduced by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Some of the most prominent parts of the bill includes the banning of “no fault” Section 21 evictions, abolishing fixed term tenancies (ending periodic 6, 12 or 24 month contracts) and introducing new registration schemes for landlords.

The bill caused a divided response from MPs, tenants and landlords and was debated through the House of Commons through various stages, with the third reading due to take place at the end of April 2024. However, with the upcoming General Election, it emerged on 24th May that the Renters (Reform) Bill will not pass before the general election on 4 July.

When a General Election is called, all business in both the House of Commons and Lords must come to an end, this includes any debate and progression of possible legislation. The bill did not make the “wash-up” period where bills are passed quickly during an election and, therefore, this means that the Government’s promise to bring an end to Section 21 evictions by the end of parliament has not happened.

What happens now?

The future of the Renter’s (Reform) Bill is now uncertain. Even if the Conservative Party does win the upcoming election, the Bill cannot just continue from where it left off. In order to pass the bill, it must be reintroduced and go through all legislative stages again.

What should landlords do?

Given that there is a period of uncertainty, landlords should make every effort to stay informed about legislative updates and be prepared for new changes to come about. It is worth noting that whichever party forms the next Government, the Bill is likely to be amended before it is presented to Parliament again.

It’s important to understand your portfolio and ensure your tenancies are complaints. You might even consider speaking with an expert if you are uncertain.

What does each political party say on the Renter’s Reform Bill?

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party Manifesto does include the Renter’s Reform Bill, stating the following:

“We will pass a Renters Reform Bill that will deliver fairness in the rental market for
landlords and renters alike. We will deliver the court reforms necessary to fully abolish Section 21 and strengthen other grounds for landlords to evict private tenants guilty of anti-social behaviour.”

Whether this would mean that the Renters Reform Bill, that was being shaped prior to the dissolution of parliament, will reappear unchanged is not clear.

They have also pledged to strengthen grounds for landlords to evict private tenants guilty of anti-social behaviour, give more powers to councils to manage the ‘uncontrolled growth’ of holiday lets and introduce a two-year temporary Capital Gains Tax relief for landlords who sell to existing tenants.

Labour Party

Labour have previously shared they have doubts over the version of the Renter’s (Reform) Bill as introduced, and instead promised alternative plans. This still includes an end to Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions, the right for renters to have pets, to make reasonable alterations to a property, introduce a four-month notice period for landlords – and bring in an end to automatic evictions for rent arrears.

The Labour Party manifesto says:

“Labour will legislate where the Conservatives have failed, overhauling the regulation of the private rented sector. We will immediately abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, prevent private renters being exploited and discriminated against, empower them to challenge unreasonable rent increases, and take steps to decisively raise standards, including extending ‘Awaab’s Law’ to the private sector.”

The Labour Party’s stance is clear as they look to ‘overhaul the regulation of the private rented sector’. Even with the dissolving of the bill, Labour still remains committed to abolish Section 21. However, this would likely mean many of the original parts of the Renter’s (Reform) Bill would not pass through a Labour government.

Liberal Democrats 

The Liberal Democrats promised “to deliver a fair deal for renters” by abolishing Section 21 immediately and reintroducing EPC C targets for rented properties. 

The Liberal Democrats manifesto states:

“Liberal Democrats are committed to tackling these housing failures head-on by: [..] Delivering a fair deal for renters by immediately banning no-fault evictions, making three-year tenancies the default, and creating a national register of licensed landlords.”

The party’s manifesto proposes making three-year tenancies the norm and creating a national register of licensed landlords. Their manifesto doesn’t specifically address the Renter’s (Reform) Bill specifically, but the main ‘no-fault’ eviction plans remain.

Reform Party 

Reform UK plans to abolish the Renter’s (Reform) Bill and instead have released their own set of proposed policies to address the housing crisis. The Reform manifesto states the following:

Abolish the Renters’ (Reform) Bill Existing legislation was inadequate to address bad

practices. Instead, we will boost the monitoring, appeals and enforcement process for renters with grievances.”

They also plan to:

Scrap section 24 for Landlords The tax system should encourage smaller landlords into the rental markets. Not penalise them. We will restore landlords’ rights to deduct finance costs and mortgage interest from tax on rental income.”

Green Party 

The Green Party have outlined plans for the private rental sector in “Our Fair Deal for Renters”, which cover rent controls, an end to no-fault evictions, and private residential tenancy boards in their manifesto. 

In The Green Party manifesto, it states: 

“Elected Greens will push to: [..]Empower local authorities to introduce rent controls.End no-fault evictions.

[..] A new stable rental tenancy and the ending of no-fault evictions: Elected Greens will push to end Section 21 no-fault evictions and introduce longterm leases. Private tenants need to be secure in their homes. Renters will also be given a new right to demand energy efficiency improvements.”

The Green Party has many sustainability measures with a focus on tenant rights. As with the Renter’s (Reform) Bill, the Green Party looks to stable tenancies and abolish ‘no-fault’ evictions, as well as pushing for rent controls to be introduced for local authorities.

To Summarise: Each Party’s Stance on the Renter’s (Reform) Bill and Key Points

  • Conservative Party: Abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. They pledge to provide two-year temporary Capital Gains Tax relief for landlords who sell to their tenants and also give greater power to local authorities to manage the ‘uncontrolled growth’ of holiday lets. There will be no increase in residential stamp duty and to maintain Private Residence Relief.
  • Labour Party: Abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. They will look to empower tenants to challenge ‘unreasonable’ rent increases as well as extend health and safety standards to the private sector. They pledge to increase stamp duty on non-UK residents and increase home building with 1.5 million new homes.
  • Liberal Democrats: Abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. They pledge to enhance tenant security, make three-year tenancies the norm and create a national register of licensed landlords
  • Reform UK: Abolish the Renter’s (Reform) Bill. They pledge to encourage smaller landlords into the rental markets and dock stamp duty on properties valued under £750,000.
  • Green Party: Abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. Introduce greater rent controls and private residential tenancy boards.

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