Renters’ Reform Bill – what are the proposed changes?

There are currently 4.4m privately rented properties in England and it is believed 21 per cent of these households are not of satisfactory standard. In May 2022, the government revealed further details of the Renters’ Reform Bill to deliver a ‘new deal’ for renters.

Katie Lofthouse, solicitor and debt recovery specialist at Woodcocks Haworth and Nuttall Solicitors, explores what the reforms mean for landlords who manage residential rental properties.

The aims of the Renters’ Reform Bill

The Renters’ Reform Bill intends to improve lives of millions of renters by driving up standards in the private and socially rented sector, delivering on the government’s mission to level up the country.

The reforms aim to make it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants who are at no fault during their tenancy. The bill is also designed to prevent private landlords from renting out low quality homes and to provide private tenants with a better standard of living.

The reforms should consequently help the NHS by saving more than £300m a year spent on the care of people affected by illness created by living in low quality privately rented homes.

The measures published by the government in the planned reforms include:

  • Helping the most vulnerable tenants by outlawing bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits.
  • Ending the use of arbitrary rent review clauses.
  • Making it easier for tenants to request pets in their homes.
  • Tenants to be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies so that a tenancy will only cease if a tenant ends it or a landlord has a valid reason, defined in law.
  • Doubling the notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them.
  • Stronger powers for councils to deal with worst offending landlords, backed by enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offences.

Due to Covid-19, these proposed changes took a back seat, however, the government now intends to push on with its plan to change the law and to provide ‘a better deal’ for renters, who often live with the uncertainty of being evicted once the fixed period to their tenancy comes to an end.

The abolishment of section 21

A present, there are two routes to evict a tenant. A section 21 notice, otherwise known as a ‘no fault’ eviction. A section 21 notice allows a landlord to evict tenants, providing their fixed term has come to an end, without the need to show they are in any breach of the tenancy agreement.

The second route is a section 8 notice, in which in most cases, a landlord must show the tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement, and such a notice can be relied upon even during the fixed term.

Under the reforms, section 21 evictions will be banned. A landlord will therefore be unable to evict a tenant unless they have good reasons for doing so.

Changes to the section 8 process

To even this out for landlords, the government intends to make it easier for landlords to obtain possession of their properties through a section 8 notice, in circumstances where tenants fall behind on their rent, or commit anti-social behaviour, and/or cause problems for neighbours.

There is also likely to be further grounds on which landlords can rely on a section 8 notice to evict a tenant. The court process of evicting a tenant through the section 8 process will be speeded up and made easier to navigate for landlords, ensuring they can recover their properties swiftly and smoothly.

A new Private Renters Ombudsman will also be established to deal with disputes between tenants and landlord’s quickly, and without the need for the court’s involvement, which can often be a costly and time-consuming process.

When will section 21 be abolished?

Plans to abolish section 21 repossessions, so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions were first proposed in April 2019. It is only now, more than three years later, that the government is publishing a white paper to outline the abolishment of section 21 and its wider plans for rental reform.

At this point in time there is no fixed date for the ending of section 21, but the government has outlined that the Renters’ Reform Bill, including measures to abolish section 21, will be “introduced in this parliamentary session”.

Overall, the government’s intention is that every private tenant will be able to enjoy a good standard of living by providing them with more security in their rented home, and by extending the decent homes scheme to the private sector.

Katie Lofthouse is a solicitor based at WHN’s Clitheroe office who specialises in contractual disputes and debt recovery. To contact Katie, call her on 01200 408300 or email