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Renters Reform Bill – is it hiding rent controls?

The Renters' Reform Bill announced last week in the Queen's Speech, may contain a Trojan Horse measure for rent control, if two Ministers are taken at their word...

The Negotiator

The Renters’ Reform Bill announced last week in the Queen’s Speech, may contain a Trojan Horse measure for rent control. Two Government ministers have used terms in Parliamentary answers to questions, in the last week, which point to specific measures to empower tenants to challenge rents.

The White Paper for the Bill is being formulated by Michael Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), and will be published “shortly” and is being probed ahead of this by the Opposition.

Matthew Pennycook MP

Matthew Pennycook MP

Shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycook asked Michael Gove in the House, “We know that rent tribunals are not an effective safeguard against punitive rent rises, and that the risk of such rises is likely only to increase when section 21 no-fault evictions are finally scrapped.

“Will the Secretary of State therefore tell the House why his planned renters reform Bill appears to be completely silent on protections for tenants against unaffordable rent rises?”

Secretary of State, Michael Gove replied, “Our Renters Reform Bill will specifically ensure that people in the private rented sector are protected, and I look forward to working with the hon. Gentleman to ensure that the Bill satisfies the need of the hour.”

Our Renters’ Reform Bill will specifically ensure that people in the private rented sector are protected…”

Eddie Hughes MP

Eddie Hughes MP

In written answers to Parliamentary questions, housing minister Eddie Hughes was asked by Catherine West, Shadow Minister for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, “what steps he has taken to enhance private renter security in the context of increases in the cost of living.”

His reply said, “This Government is committed to easing cost of living pressures and increasing security and stability for tenants.

“I was very pleased to announce last week that we are bringing forward legislation to scrap Section 21 evictions.

This will prevent tenants from being unfairly evicted and empower them to challenge unreasonable rent rises – as well as saving money on the costs of frequent house moves.”

It’s generally agreed that the current process of challenging unfair rents is complex, cumbersome and impractical and simply abolishing Section 21 evictions does not therefore make the process of challenging any easier.

The Negotiator, yesterday, asked the DLUHC for clarification of the Ministers’ comments specifically on this point. The oblique response did nothing to clarify or contradict the Ministers’ comments.

A spokesperson said,  “We’re delivering a better deal for renters. The Renters’ Reform Bill announced in this week’s [sic] Queen’s Speech will bring forward measures to abolish Section 21 no-fault evictions, giving tenants greater security and empowering them to challenge unreasonable rent rises without the fear of retaliatory evictions.”

Watch this space…

May 19, 2022

2 comments

  1. It’s not possible to increase rent unilaterally on a tenant. The tenancy agreement sets the rent and contains any rent revue clause to increase it. What rent control will mean is that payment of rent will become optional for a tenant – if they don’t want to pay an increase in rent they wont agree to it the landlord will need to follow a set procedure to increase it. Will rent be set at the market rent or some capped increase mechanism? It can’t be market rent because that’s what is being stopped so it will be capping rents.

    In the meantime while landlords are trying to increase the rent tenants are imposing on themselves a rent payment holiday knowing that the landlord wont be able to evict the tenant for non-payment, there will be no mandatory ground for possession on rent arrears – landlord and their tenants will be expected to sit on the floor in a circle, hug each other and come to an amicable agreement on setting up an arrears payment plan and a modest increase in the rent. That may not be the immediate effect of legislation but it will come in time.

    And yes I am serious about sitting in a circle on the floor. I attended a rent increase negotiation with the rent office at a tenant’s flat who was a protected tenant, I went to sit in a chair and the officer asked us to sit on the floor! It’s too woke to sit in a chair because the landlord might sit in one that is higher than the tenant’s! And of course ‘landlord’ will be a term of the past it will be something gender neutral such as ‘the Home Provider’

  2. Removing S21 will mean that rent increases will need to be in line with market conditions or tenants will be able to contest this at a tribunal. Pretty logical stuff really otherwise S21b removal could be easily side-stepped by proposing a 50% rent increase when you want a tenant to leave. This is existing legislation the landscape is just different without S21. It is not Rent Controls- inflammatory language from ministers who don’t know what they’re talking about-n who’d have thought!?!

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