As private landlords place the new calendar on the wall, they may be forgiven for having a slight sense of trepidation. Will 2023 be the year residential tenancy reform finally becomes a reality?
Landlords will know that reform of the private rented sector has been discussed for some years. The curveball of Covid put the brakes on the progress of much ‘normal’ Government business, but the Queens’ Speech of May 2022 confirmed a Renters Reform Bill would be put before Parliament in the 2022-2023 session (something that was confirmed by the-then Minister in the DLUHC on 17 October 2022).
On June 2022 the White Paper “A Fairer Private Rented Sector’ was published, setting out what the Government is proposing. The content of that White Paper has been much-discussed in the press, and includes the headline provisions regarding the abolition of section 21 notices and ASTs. That White Paper indicated that, whilst changes would not happen overnight, the pace of change would still be relatively swift.
“at least six months’ notice of our first implementation date, after which all new tenancies will be periodic and governed by the new rules. Specific timing will depend on when Royal Assent is secured. 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 the new system on a second implementation date. After this point, all tenants will be protected from Section 21 eviction. We will allow at least twelve months between the first and second dates.”
On 31 October 2022 the House of Commons Library published a debate pack to assist MPs with a general debate that took place on the subject on 3 November 2022. For those interested, that debate can be viewed on the BBC Parliament site BBC Parliament - House of Commons, Private Rented Sector Debate.
That debate produced nothing concrete in terms of future timetable. The relatively newly-appointed Minister for the Private Rented Sector then spoke at an event on 15 November, but alas, still no indication given regarding when the Bill will finally be brought before Parliament.
If I had to make a prediction, I think the Bill will be published early in 2023. What happens thereafter is difficult to predict. The changes will be significant, erasing practices that have been in place for over 30 years. So I very much hope they will be properly and robustly scrutinised by both Houses of Parliament.
While that may take time, I think the Renters Reform Act will make it to the statute books during 2023 but those provisions are unlikely to be put into practical implementation until early in 2024.
The AST may have one more Christmas with us, but be under no doubt its days are numbered.