In our last newsletter, we outlined the changes coming into play in the near future under the Renters (Reform) Bill. You may still have some questions around these changes, from timelines to affordability for referencing. We’ve put together the answers to some of the top questions asked in a recent webinar with experts, Ryan Heaven, Solicitor at Dutton Gregory, and Goodlord’s Oli Sherlock.
As before, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like further support on what these changes may mean for you.
When will all tenancies become periodic?
Ryan Heaven: Probably the least relevant date is when the law actually passes through parliament. The bill provides for two dates in terms of the law coming into effect. You have an application date. What that means is parliament – or rather the Secretary of State – will set a date at which the act will come into force. That’s obviously to be determined. New tenancies created after that date will be assured tenancies by default and all of these new rules will apply to those tenancies. You then have the extended application date and that is the transitional provision that covers all tenancies that existed before the application date came into force.
Will the switch from fixed term to periodic tenancies affect affordability?
Oli Sherlock: The view from a referencing perspective on affordability is a snapshot in time. It’s looking at whether the tenant can afford that amount of rent, not whether the tenant can afford that amount of rent for the next two, three, four years for example. So I don’t think, fundamentally, anything within the referencing process particularly changes.
What will be the impact of the Renters (Reform) Bill on eviction processes?
Ryan Heaven: With section 21 being abolished, accelerated claims will go away too. What that means is that all notices that are served will need to go through some form of hearing, and that will probably cause pressure on the court system. But I suspect something that might mitigate it slightly is that if you take away section 21, there might be fewer claims in total. So, it might well offset itself.
Will letting agents and landlords have to notify tenants about the Renters (Reform) Bill?
Ryan Heaven: In terms of the information you’re going to have to provide to the tenants about the transition, the bill doesn’t suggest any. Though I dare say there’s going to be some equivalent. The amount of work and man-hours that have gone into producing How to Rent guides over the years, I dare say they’re not going to throw that away. They’ll probably adapt it and say: “This is something you have to provide in the future.” I’m speculating slightly here. The general mantra of law in this country is that anyone who’s going to be affected by these rules – to tell them what’s going to change.