Tenancy reform: Renters (Reform) Bill

Information on proposals in the Renters (Reform) Bill to abolish section 21 'no fault' evictions and deliver a simpler, more secure tenancy structure.

Applies to England

The Renters (Reform) Bill will abolish section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and deliver a simpler, more secure tenancy structure. This will provide tenants with greater security, supporting them to put down roots in their community, whilst ensuring landlords remain confident that they can regain their property where they need to. Renters will also feel empowered to challenge the small minority of landlords who provide poor quality housing without the worry of a ‘no fault’ eviction.

To achieve this, the Renters (Reform) Bill will end fixed-term tenancies and move to periodic tenancies, which do not have an end date. This will provide greater security for tenants while retaining the important flexibility that privately rented accommodation offers. It will enable tenants to leave poor quality properties without remaining liable for the rent, or to move more easily when their circumstances change, for example to take up a new job opportunity. Tenants will be able to stay in their home until they decide to end the tenancy by giving two months’ notice or the landlord can evidence a valid ground for possession. Landlords won’t be able to use grounds for moving in, selling or redevelopment for the first six months of the tenancy, meaning responsible renters will enjoy enhanced security after moving into a property.

In the absence of section 21, it is critical that landlords have the peace of mind that they can regain their property when their circumstances change or tenants do not fulfil their obligations. Currently, many landlords struggle to recover properties when faced with anti-social behaviour and wilful non-payment of rent and struggle to navigate the legal landscape. The Bill will introduce comprehensive, fair and efficient grounds to ensure landlords have confidence they can regain possession when it is reasonable. We will expedite landlords’ ability to evict those who disrupt neighbourhoods through anti-social behaviour and introduce a new ground for persistent rent arrears. We will also ensure landlords are able to sell or move into their property if needed.

Once section 21 is abolished, we need to ensure tenants do not face backdoor evictions, including through egregious rent rises designed to force them out. Nothing, however, in the Bill restricts landlords from raising rents to market value during a tenancy. This will require a landlord to complete a simple form - which we will publish on – and serve this to the tenant. Tenants who receive a rent increase that they feel is not representative of the market value will be able to challenge the increase in the First-tier Tribunal. We will issue guidance on this process to ensure that it is clear for everyone. As now, landlords will be allowed to increase rents to market price for their properties and an independent tribunal will make a judgement on this, if needed. To avoid fettering the freedom of the judiciary, the tribunal will continue to be able to determine the actual market rent of a property.

The grounds for possession

We have undertaken a full review of existing grounds for possession, informed by the government consultation, A new deal for renting, which received almost 20,000 responses and subsequent engagement with stakeholders. The grounds cover all circumstances under which a landlord might reasonably expect possession.

In the small proportion of tenancies where court action is required, landlords will need to provide evidence to the judge that the selected ground is met. Grounds can be either mandatory or discretionary. For mandatory grounds, judges must award possession when a landlord can evidence the ground is met. Discretionary grounds allow a judge to consider whether it is reasonable to award possession, even where the ground is met.

We have introduced of new grounds to support vital, specialist sectors. These allow repossession where it is critical that supply is available for new tenants, such as in temporary accommodation and agriculture, or where it would not be safe or viable to.

Table 1: Reformed grounds for possession

Ground Explanation Notice period Mandatory or discretionary
Moving in The landlord or their close family member wishes to move into the property. 2 months Mandatory
Selling The landlord wishes to sell the property. 2 months Mandatory
Selling (rent-to-buy) The landlord is a private registered provider of social housing and there is a rent-to-buy agreement. 2 months Mandatory
Mortgage repossession The property is subject to a mortgage and the lender exercises a power of sale requiring vacant possession. 2 months Mandatory
Superior lease ending The landlord’s lease is under a superior tenancy that is terminated by the superior landlord. 2 months Mandatory
Possession by superior landlord After a superior tenancy ends, the superior landlord becomes the tenant’s direct landlord, and seeks to take possession. 2 months Mandatory
Student accommodation In the 12 months prior to the start of the tenancy the property has been used to house students. This can be used by educational establishments and PBSA only. 2 weeks Mandatory
Ministers of religion The property is held for use by a minister of religion to perform the duties of their office and is required for occupation by a minister of religion. 2 months Mandatory
Agricultural workers The landlord requires possession to house someone who will be employed by them as an agricultural worker. 2 months Mandatory
Employment criteria The social landlord requires the dwelling to let to someone based on their employment eligibility (e.g., key workers). 2 months Mandatory
Employment by landlord The dwelling was let as a result of the tenant’s employment by landlord, and the employment has come to an end OR tenancy was not meant to last the duration of the employment and the dwelling is required by new employee. 2 months Mandatory
End of employment related criteria The social landlord must have granted the tenancy because of the tenant’s employment eligibility (e.g., key workers) and they no longer meet those criteria. 2 months Mandatory
Used for supported accommodation The provider requires possession from a non-supported accommodation resident to relet as supported accommodation. 4 weeks Mandatory
Supported accommodation (mandatory) The provider requires possession because support services or funding has ended or fallen away; the provision is no longer meeting the tenant’s needs; the placement was ‘move on’ accommodation. 4 weeks Mandatory
Temporary Accommodation The landlord is ending a tenancy granted because the household is owed the homelessness duty. 4 weeks Mandatory
Redevelopment The landlord is seeking possession to redevelop at least 6 months after start of tenancy. Must demonstrate changes cannot be done with the tenant living there. 2 months Mandatory
Enforcement action The landlord is subject to enforcement action by Local Authority or banning order by First-tier Tribunal and needs to regain possession to become compliant. Refused/Revoked HMO licenses etc. 2 months Mandatory
Death of tenant The tenancy was passed on by will or intestacy. Possession proceedings must begin no later than 24 months after death. 2 months Mandatory
Severe ASB/Criminal Behaviour The tenant convicted of a criminal offence, breached an IPNA, breached a criminal behaviour order, or convicted of causing noise nuisance. Landlords can make a possession claim immediately Mandatory
No right to rent At least one of the tenants has no right to rent under immigration law. 2 weeks Mandatory
Serious rent arrears The tenant is at least 2 months in arrears at the time notice is served and the court hearing. Exemption for outstanding benefit payments. 4 weeks Mandatory
Repeated serious arrears Three separate instances of at least 2 months of arrears over a 3 year period. 4 weeks Mandatory
Suitable alternative accommodation Suitable alternative accommodation is available for tenant. 2 months Discretionary
Any rent arrears The tenant is in any amount of arrears when notice is served and on the day of their court hearing. 4 weeks Discretionary
Persistent arrears The tenant has persistently delayed paying their rent 4 weeks Discretionary
Breach of tenancy The tenant is guilty of breaching one of the terms of their tenancy agreement. 2 weeks Discretionary
Deterioration of property The tenant has caused the condition of the property to deteriorate. 2 weeks Discretionary
Anti-social behaviour The tenant or anyone living in or visiting the property has been guilty of causing nuisance or annoyance to the landlord or anyone living in, visiting or in the locality of the property, or has been convicted of using the premises for illegal/immoral purposes, or has been convicted of an indictable offense in the locality. Landlords can make a possession claim immediately. Discretionary
Domestic Abuse Social landlords only. Evict the perpetrator of domestic violence if the partner has left the property. 2 weeks Discretionary
Rioting The tenant or other adult living at the property has been convicted of an indictable offence which took place at a riot in the UK after 13 May 2014. 2 weeks Discretionary
Deterioration of furniture The tenant has caused the condition of the furniture to deteriorate. 2 weeks Discretionary
False statement The tenancy was granted due to false statement. 2 weeks Discretionary
Supported Accommodation (discretionary) The tenant has unreasonably refused to cooperate with the support service provided. 4 weeks Discretionary

Frequently asked questions

How does a private landlord currently evict a tenant?

  • Private tenancies are governed by the Housing Act 1988.
  • Landlords must serve a legal notice to end a tenancy. If the tenant does not leave, the landlord must go to court, which can instruct bailiffs to enforce eviction.
  • Currently, a landlord can evict a tenant without providing any reason – a “no fault” section 21 eviction. This requires the landlord to give the tenant two months’ notice. After this, it is always mandatory for the court to order eviction of the tenant if the tenant does not leave during the notice period.
  • Landlords may also seek possession using section 8 grounds – a list of circumstances defined in law in which a landlord can evict a tenant, for example due to rent arrears. If a tenant does not leave during the notice period, a landlord must prove to a court that the ground applies.

What problems are the reforms intended to solve?

  • Section 21 means a landlord can evict a tenant in any circumstance. This makes some tenants feel insecure in their homes, with unexpected evictions causing financial difficulty and interrupting employment and schooling.
  • Evidence shows that some rogue landlords use section 21 to evict tenants who complain about legitimate problems with a property they are renting. This means many tenants do not raise issues for fear of eviction through a section 21 order.
  • The existing system does not work for responsible landlords either. Many struggle to recover properties when faced with anti-social behaviour and wilful non-payment of rent and struggle to navigate the legal landscape.

How will a landlord end a tenancy in the future?

  • The Renters (Reform) Bill will remove section 21 evictions, while strengthening landlords’ other rights of possession.
  • Landlords will be able to end a tenancy in specific circumstances defined in law. The grounds for possession are outlined in Table 1 above and cover all circumstances a landlord might reasonably expect possession.
  • Where a landlord seeks possession using section 8 grounds, the process to end a tenancy will be similar to the current process of using section 21. Landlords will need to serve the notice on the prescribed form to their tenant with the required notice period. Landlords will need to go to court if a tenant does not leave and provide evidence that the ground applies.

How will a tenant end a tenancy once the reforms are implemented?

  • A tenant will be able to end a tenancy at any time by giving two months’ notice. The end date of the tenancy will need to align with the end of a rent period.

What evidence will a landlord need to provide?

  • If a tenant does not leave, a landlord will need to prove to a court that they are seeking possession for one of the reasons specified in legislation. We will issue guidance to support landlords in this.
  • To ensure maximum flexibility for landlords, we will not mandate what evidence is needed. As an example, a landlord might show they have instructed an estate agent and solicitor if they wished to prove they were selling a property.

Will a landlord be able to increase rents in the new system?

  • Yes. In the new system, all rent increases will be via one mechanism which replicates the existing section 13 process. This will require a landlord to complete a simple form, which we will publish on GOV.UK, and serve this to the tenant.
  • Once the form is served, the landlord will not have to take further action. If the tenant accepts the proposed rent increase, they simply need to pay the new amount on the next rent day.
  • A tenant can dispute the increase through referring a case to the First-tier Tribunal, if they think it is above market rate. This must be before the starting date of the proposed new rent and tenants should notify their landlord that they are doing so.

In what circumstances will a tenant be able to challenge excessive rent increases?

  • Tenants will be able to dispute rent increases that they think are above the market value by referring a case to the First-tier Tribunal. This must be before the starting date of the proposed new rent and tenants should notify their landlord that they are doing so.

When will the tenancy reforms be implemented?

  • We will implement the new system in two stages to ensure all stakeholders have sufficient notice to implement the necessary changes.
  • We will provide at least six months’ notice of our first implementation date after which all new tenancies will be periodic and governed by the new rules. The date of this will be dependent on when Royal Assent is received, and when the court system is ready to implement the new system.
  • To avoid a two-tier rental sector and to make sure landlords and tenants are clear on their rights, all existing tenancies will transition to a new system on the second implementation date. After this point, all tenants will be protected from section 21 eviction and landlords will have access to a full range of strengthened grounds. We will allow at least twelve months between the first and second date.

How will non-PRS sectors be affected by the new system?

  • This tenancy system is used by landlords outside the PRS – including private registered providers (PRPs) of social housing (typically housing associations) and providers of supported accommodation, as well as landlords providing temporary accommodation to homeless households.
  • These reforms have taken into consideration the impact on these critical sectors. We have balanced providing maximum security to all tenants with ensuring specialist sectors can continue to house some of the most vulnerable households.
  • Tenancies offered by PRPs will follow the same rules as private landlords, to ensure social tenants benefit from the same protections and flexibilities as their private counterparts.
  • However, the supported accommodation sector may need to take back possession for a range of important reasons, such as funding ending or unexpectedly dropping away, or where a tenant’s care needs have changed. We are therefore introducing new grounds to enable the sector to provide safe tenancies and to make best use of their placements.
  • Landlords will also be able to take back possession where they have been working with local councils to give tenancies to households are statutorily homeless. This will ensure temporary accommodation remains available to those who most need it.
Published 17 May 2023