Changes will protect renters from rent rises, ensure homes are fit to live in and make it easier to have a pet.

Renters are set to be protected from unfair rent increases as part of a package of reforms to improve the private rented sector.

New rules being introduced will also end ‘no fault’ evictions, while all rental homes will have to meet minimum standards, the government said.

Other changes include making it illegal for landlords to have blanket bans on families with children or people receiving benefits, and it will also be easier for renters to have pets.

The government claims the measures, which will be included in the Renters Reform Bill to be introduced during the current parliamentary session, are the biggest shake up for the private rented sector for 30 years.

Richard Donnell, Executive Director of Research and Insight at Zoopla, said: “With the backdrop of the cost of living crisis putting pressure on renters, these reforms are welcome and timely, particularly as they’re largely focused on boosting the quality of housing in the rented sector.

“The private rented sector plays an important role in the housing market, providing much needed homes for a wide spectrum of households. These reforms mark another milestone in the journey to create a suitable equilibrium between renters and private landlords who provide the majority of homes for rent.”
What will change?

Under the new rules, arbitrary rent review clauses will be outlawed, and notice periods for rent increases will be doubled. Renters will also have stronger powers to challenge rent rises if they think they are unjustified.

To ensure all private rented properties are fit for occupation, the Decent Homes Standard will be extended to cover the sector for the first time.

If homes fall below this standard, people will have their rent repaid. Councils will also have stronger powers to tackle rogue landlords, including larger fines for serious offences.

Going forward, all renters will be moved into a single system of ‘periodic tenancies’, enabling them to leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent, and making it easier for people to move if their circumstances change.

Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions will also be banned, meaning tenancies will only end if a renter wants them to, or the landlord has a valid reason, defined in law, to do so.

Meanwhile, all renters will have the right to ask to have a pet in their home, and their landlord must consider their request and cannot unreasonably refuse it.

A new Private Renters’ Ombudsman will also be created to settle disputes between renters and landlords quickly and at a low cost, while renters will be able to demand information on their landlord and rate them.
Why is this happening?

The government claims the measures will help to redress the balance between landlords and the 4.4 million people who rent homes in the private sector.

While the majority of renters have safe homes, the government wants to help the 21% of people who rent in the private sector have properties that are deemed to be unfit, more than half of which pose a risk to renters’ health and safety.

It also wants to protect renters from ‘no fault’ evictions, after research showed more than a fifth of private renters who moved in 2019 and 2020 did not do so by choice.
Who does it affect?

The move is great news if you rent in the private sector, as it offers you greater certainty over how long you can live in your home and how much it will cost you.

You also have the reassurance that your home will meet minimum standards and that you have an easy route to take action if disputes occur between you and your landlord.

But there are concerns that the measures could lead to more landlords exiting the sector.

A growing number of amateur, private landlords have sold their properties in recent years as a result of tax hikes and increased regulation, which have made the market less profitable.

This trend has led to a growing mismatch between supply and demand, forcing rents higher.

Donnell said: “There is a delicate balance to ensure reforms don’t compound these supply-side challenges, which continue to keep an upward pressure on rents.

“Rents have risen 11% in the last year. Ensuring decent homes is paramount but so is the investment into this important sector of the housing market.”

Key takeaways

  • Renters are set to be protected from unfair rent increases as part of a package of reforms to improve the private rented sector
  • ‘No fault’ evictions will be banned, and homes will have to meet minimum standards
  • It will be illegal for landlords to refuse families with children or people receiving benefits, while it will also be easier for renters to have pets