Renters (Reform) Bill: What are the new powers being given to local councils? - Total Landlord Insurance

October 31, 2023
Renters (Reform) Bill: What are the new powers being given to local councils? - Total Landlord Insurance

Note: Articles on the Renters (Reform) Bill will be continuously updated as details emerge

Article updated on 31 October 2023

Read an interactive and user-friendly version of this guide below.

One of the key problems for many councils trying to improve their local private rented housing stock, including via clampdowns on rogue landlords, is that they lack the powers and funding to do it.

Only a handful of (mainly)London councils have large teams inspecting properties and following up their failings with landlords. But across London, according to Safer Renting, 2.2 enforcement officers on average are expected to police around 10,000 homes each.

It’s why so many HMO and selective licensing schemes have sprung up across the UK recently –they are a way for local authorities to fund better enforcement.

Ministers are aware that they can promise as much new legislation and regulation as they like, but it’s local councils who do much of the heavy lifting - and who, ironically, have had their budgets slashed in recent years.

Nevertheless, the fairer renting white paper made it clear that the Government believes ‘local councils should have strong and effective enforcement tools to crack down on poor practice’.

But how are they going to achieve that? On top of the £6.7 million they have given to some 180 local authorities over the past five years, and a commitment to ‘give local councils the tools to enforce the Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector so that they can crack down on non-compliant landlords while protecting the reputation of responsible ones’, here’s the list.

·       Pilot schemes will be run with a selection of local councils to explore different ways of enforcing standards and work with landlords to speed up the adoption of the Decent Homes Standard

·       Local councils’ enforcement powers and ability to crack down on criminal landlords will be strengthened by seeking to increase investigative powers and strengthening the fine regime for serious offences

·       The Government is also exploring a requirement for local councils to report to Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities on their housing enforcement activity

Although local councils will be able to fine more, which will itself generate additional funding over time, it’s still not clear how the Government proposes to fund the initial increased activity required in order to make checks and identify criminal landlords.

Councils already have the power to issue fines of up to £30,000 without going to court, and yet, because of a lack of resources, the problem of sub-standard rented properties has not been properly tackled and there are still landlords getting away with breaking the law.

As the Bill progresses through Parliament, more information on exactly how this will work in practice should come to light.

For more insights on the Renters (Reform) Bill, listen to a special episode of The Property Cast with Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme, and leading property expert Kate Faulkner OBE, who share their initial reactions to the Renters (Reform) Bill – will it deliver what tenants need and will it have unintended consequences? Tune in to find out what the experts think.

Keep up to date on the Renters (Reform) Bill

Our media partner, LandlordZONE, offers exclusive insights and breaking news on the private rented sector. Keep up to date with everything you need to know by subscribing to LandlordZONE, the UK’s largest online landlord property news website.

You can also visit Total Landlord's Renters (Reform) Bill hub which will be regularly updated as more details emerge.

Renters (Reform) Bill update: Second reading

Although the Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023, there was a lengthy delay before the second reading of the Bill, which finally took place on Monday 23 October 2023. It’s predicted that significant changes to the Bill are likely during its next stage as it progresses through Parliament. For a detailed update on the likely changes, head over to our Renters (Reform) Bill hub.

Become a Total Landlord.
Get a quote for our award winning landlord insurance.