The Renters (Reform) Bill is, yet again, caught in the legislative waiting room. With the House of Commons entering its summer recess period, the bill won’t be considered until at least September. This delay presents a silver lining: it gives the landlords and agents ample time to influence future decisions.
The Legislative Hold-Up MPs have locked the doors of the Commons as they head off on their summer break today, 20 July 2023. The return is slated for 4 September, but don’t hold your breath for immediate action on the bill. Given the calendar, politicians will only spend a fortnight in Parliament before departing once again for a month-long party conference season.
Progress Behind Closed Doors Despite the much-anticipated second reading being on hold, there has been movement on the bill. The Select Committee recently had the opportunity to discuss matters with Housing Minister Rachel Maclean and her colleagues from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
During this session, the government suggested that it is mulling over the potential of creating a new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman, serving as a combines redress scheme for landlords, agents, and tenants. The government also plan to extend the range of anti-social behaviour judges can evaluate in eviction cases, though the specifics remain unclear.
Looking Forward: The Unanswered Questions As much as progress has been made, many important questions about the Renters Reform Bill remain unanswered. Agents and landlords are still in the dark regarding the final form of Section 8 eviction grounds, and the details of how digitisation will expedite the court process.
One concern that the government hasn’t sufficiently tackled is the potential for the bill to trigger unintended consequences. Could infinite tenancies render student lets impracticable? Might more rigorous regulations dissuade landlords from remaining in the sector?