After five years in the making, the Government’s Renters (Reform) Bill fell at the final hurdle last week. National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) Chief Executive Ben Beadle explains the impact this will have on PRS landlords – and why the next administration must get it right.

‘The biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in more than 30 years’. This was what the Government promised with its Renters (Reform) Bill.

The Bill was the Government’s masterplan to transform the private rented sector, promising more security for tenants; including controversial plans to abolish section 21, get rid of fixed term tenancies and introduce a new registration scheme for landlords.

Here at the NRLA we spent, literally, years working with our members and Government to hone and amend these plans to ensure they were fair to landlords as well as allowing Ministers to honour their commitments to tenants.

We were confident that the Bill that, until last week, was making its way through Parliament met both those standards.

However, a week is a long time in politics, and those plans are now in tatters following Rishi Sunak’s decision to call an election last Wednesday.

While the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill WAS chosen to go to ‘wash-up’ stage, where outstanding parliamentary business is completed ahead of Parliament being prorogued, the Renters (Reform) Bill did not.

It is hugely disappointing that the Bill has fallen, not least due to in-fighting within Government, causing these crucial delays.

How did we get here?

The Renters (Reform) Bill was first mooted in 2019. What followed was years of debate about what the Bill should look like, with the proposed legislation finally presented to Parliament in May last year. 

It was then five months before the second reading in the Commons, with many backbenchers objecting to the plans, causing significant delays to the progress of the Bill, which was still passing through the House of Lords when the election was called. 

As any parliamentary business not completed by the end of the ‘wash up’ period cannot become law and cannot be carried over to the next Parliament the Bill was then dead in the water.

What does this mean for landlords?

In basic terms, this means that whoever triumphs at the polls on 4 July will need to start from scratch when it comes to developing new legislation around private rented housing. 

In broader terms this creates further crippling uncertainty for landlords, who have already been waiting for five years for answers on how they must run their businesses going forward.

And the repercussions could be devastating.

With the country already in the midst of a cost-of-living and housing crisis, the latest figures show increasing numbers of landlords are already considering their future in the private rented sector. 

With information as to what obligations landlords will need to meet in future now still up in the air – dependent on whoever wins the election – it is highly likely many will decide to simply cut their losses and sell up.

This in turn is bad news for those people looking to the sector for a home to rent, with most recent figures from property platform Rightmove showing there are now 15 tenants competing for each property.

What happens next? 

Once the election has taken place the new Government will decide how to progress with plans to reform the private rented sector.

Both the Conservatives and Labour have previously committed to abolishing Section 21, one of the cornerstones of the Renters (Reform) Bill, but it will be down to the new administration as to how they progress this – and what priority it is given. 

We may have more clarity on what approach the different parties may take once election manifestos are published in the coming weeks. 

Whatever happens, we understand that reforming the sector will be an important issue for the next government, and we are committed to working constructively with them to, once more ensure proposed changes are fair and workable for landlords and tenants alike.

More information 

Please follow our social media channels and keep an eye on the NRLA news site for all the latest on the General Election and rental reform going forward. 

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About the author

Ben headshot

Ben Beadle is chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), the UK’s largest trade body for landlords.

A landlord himself since the age of 20, Ben started out as property manager before working his way up through the ranks at the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

He was then Operations Director at property management business Touchstone before overseeing the merger of the National Residential Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to create the new trade body earlier this year.

His key aims as head of the organisation are to strengthen the voice of landlords in Westminster and Cardiff, to improve the reputation of landlords in the media and to support members through information, training and accreditation.

NRLA: The NRLA updates landlords on all the latest legislation changes affecting the sector and offers expert advice, training and other exclusive services and benefits.

The views expressed in this content are solely those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views of TDS, its officers, or employees. To read more on TDS views, visit our Policies & Procedures webpage.

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