NHC disappointed by change to Renters Reform Bill

Last week, the Renters Reform Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons. It will now progress to the House of Lords before likely becoming law.

Renters Reform has been the source of continued controversy over recent weeks, following several changes being made to the Bill which were seen by campaigners in favour of the Bill as attempts to water down the protections it will provide to tenants.

Last week, the Renters Reform Coalition – a collection of organisations, including the Northern Housing Consortium, in favour of strengthening protections for private renters – withdrew their support for the Bill claiming that “In its current form, the Renters Reform Bill will be a failure”.

Principle among the changes that led to the withdrawal of support is the government’s decision to extend the period within which a tenant cannot give notice that they wish to end their tenancy from two to six months. In addition, the Renters Reform Coalition has called for the Bill to ensure that tenants are given a minimum of four months’ notice prior to eviction, rather than two months currently required in the Bill.

The government has also said that it intends to review existing arrangements around landlord licensing schemes overseen by local authorities in line with the reforms made through the Bill, with an eye to reduce the burden on landlords.

Finally, the government has confirmed that it does not intend to abolish Section 21 or ‘no fault’ evictions until reforms to the court system have been implemented.

As members of the Renters Reform Coalition, the NHC has consistently supported the initial aims of the Renters Reform Bill to “provide a fairer deal for renters”, to improve quality in the private rental sector, and to closer align the security of tenancies offered in the private and social rental sectors. We are disappointed that the government has watered down the proposals in the Bill.

Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive of the Northern Housing Consortium said:

“We are disappointed that government has watered down the Renters Reform Bill. The decision to delay the abolition of Section 21 evictions effectively kicks the issue into the long-grass and could weaken protections for tenants. Government must set a date when the assessment of the impacts on the courts of these changes will be complete.

“Government must also continue with its commitment to apply the Decent Homes Standard to the Private Rental Sector and set out a plan for improving the energy efficiency of private rented homes. Across the North, bringing all private rent homes to EPC C will cost around £5.4bn.

“Meanwhile a review of local authority licensing schemes aimed at reducing the burden on landlords could weaken one of the few tools available to improve the quality of private rented homes.

“Our recent Living in Fear Report highlighted the negative impacts of living in poor quality private rented housing. We are disappointed the Renters Reform Bill does not deliver solutions to the challenges private renters face.”