Build to Rent industry’s reactions to the Renters’ (Reform) Bill

Build to Rent industry’s reactions to the Renters' (Reform) Bill, which was introduced to Parliament yesterday.

Houses of Parliament, where the Renters' (Reform) Bill was introduced | BTR News

The Renters’ (Reform) Bill is set to be “the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in a generation,” according to Government. We capture the Build to Rent industry’s comments and reactions to the Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023.

Grainger plc 

“We welcome the Renters’ (Reform) Bill and its principal aim of improving and raising standards within the UK private rental market. Many of the proposals in the Bill align to Grainger’s business model. Earlier this week in Parliament, the Housing Minister stated that these reforms are intended to “support a buoyant private rented sector and continued investment, including from institutional investors. 

“As a leading, responsible landlord in the Build to Rent sector, Grainger provides high quality, good value rental homes and excellent service to our residents across the country, and in doing so, raises market standards and improves the overall experience for renters, enabling them to put down roots, join communities and call their rental property their home. 

“The many challenges which face renters today are a result of undersupply and a fragmented landlord market. A better supplied rental market, with more professional, long-term and institutional-investor landlords, providing better quality, mid-market priced homes is what is needed.  

“The Bill ensures that rents can still be set in line with the open market. The Housing Minister has specifically stated that “Nothing in these proposals will prevent landlords being able to increase rents to market prices.” The abolition of ‘no fault’ evictions is welcome alongside the commitment to court reform and strengthening landlord’s ability to swiftly manage problem tenants for the benefit of the wider community. A key focus for Grainger is retaining our customers, which these proposals align with. 

“As the Renters’ (Reform) Bill goes through the Parliamentary scrutiny process over the coming year, we look forward to continuing to work with the Government and policy makers from all parties, to ensure today’s proposals strike the right balance between improving the experience for renters, while maintaining the attractiveness of the sector to long-term, responsible investors like Grainger.”

Rick De Blaby, Chief Executive Officer, Get Living

“The Renters’ (Reform) Bill unveiled today [17 May 2023] is incredibly important and we welcome steps that provide renters with better protection and access to high-quality homes. Several of the reforms brought forward have been part of Get Living’s model from day one, with our homes exceeding the Decent Homes Standard and welcoming families and pets.

“However, there is a risk that some elements of the Bill will be problematic for the effective functioning of the rental sector. The abolition of Section 21 no fault evictions must be partnered with the introduction of an effective mechanism to legitimately remove people who are displaying anti-social behaviour or withholding rent payments. Without this, the sector is open to exploitation. There is mention of court digitalisation, but this has been raised before and little progress has happened.

“Another area that needs further scrutiny is the proposal for open ended tenancies with no minimum term, which has the potential to deny people’s ability to become part of the wider community. A home should be more than a very short term decision, for both residents and landlords. Taking away certainty of occupancy removes any sense of permanence and will only serve to prevent people from putting down roots and meaningfully connecting to a place, to the detriment of the resident and the community to which they would otherwise belong.”

Brendan Geraghty, CEO, UKAA

Apartment Association (UKAA), the representative body for the Build to Rent industry in the UK, supports considered, evidence-based regulation that sets standards and expectations for the rental sector as well as offering protection to both landlords and customers. We remain willing to engage positively with policymakers to improve the performance of the rental sector and welcome the clarity set out in the Renters’ (Reform) Bill. 

“However, the UKAA stresses that Build to Rent landlords already meet and exceed the majority of requirements of the proposed Renters’ (Reform) Bill, being introduced to Parliament today.

“Our industry’s objective is to create, maintain and professionally manage high quality homes, in the long term, for the benefit of customers, local communities and investors. We are and will continue to set the highest standards for the Build to Rent industry (specifically as well as supporting and encouraging the private rental sector to do the same).

“The UKAA is itself leading the development of a Code of Practice for Build to Rent operators, setting out standards of practice in terms of quality of accommodation, customer service, response to resident issues, communication, and resident wellbeing as well as clear and fair terms of tenancy.

“It is also worth noting that the Build to Rent sector is adding significant numbers of much-needed, high quality additional homes across the UK with over 82,500 new homes completed, and a further 168,400 in the planning and delivery pipeline (Savills, May 2023). The UKAA calls on government to further recognise the uniqueness of the Build to Rent proposition and do more to support the delivery of Build to Rent homes across the UK.

“Furthermore, it is gratifying to note, as revealed in the latest Who Lives In Build to Rent report (May 2023), that Build to Rent customers mirror the demographic and income profiles of the wider PRS demonstrating that Build to Rent is universal solution that can make a significant contribution in helping to solve the UK’s housing crisis.”

Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy, British Property Federation

“The Renters’ (Reform) Bill is an opportunity to create a rental sector that provides secure, high-quality homes. We have long supported many of the Bill’s provisions, including the landlord portal, access to an ombudsman and the introduction of the Decent Homes Standard, which support the high standards already prevalent in the Build to Rent sector.

“The abolition of no-fault evictions (section 21) needs to happen in tandem with essential court reform. While court procedures are a last resort, the reforms set out in the Bill will mean that all good reasons for landlords wanting their property back will now have to go to court, and without digitalisation of the courts these proceedings will be lengthy and expensive. On the evidence of the past year, little progress has been made on digitalisation. As a result, the Government now needs to turbo-charge its efforts. Access to justice should also be subject to minimum service standards, as backbench MPs have called for.”

James Blakey, Planning Director, Moda Living

“The Renters’ (Reform) Bill is a welcome piece of legislation that will protect renters from poor quality and, in too many cases, unsafe homes. The UK’s longstanding prioritising of home ownership has for too long seen renters treated as second class citizens and with rental stock dwindling across the UK as landlords exit the market, more needs to be done to ensure the quality of rental homes across the UK. 

“At Moda we are proactively working with government and public sector stakeholders to make sure sectors like Build to Rent, which are delivering high quality rental homes and services that are a world away from the properties the Rental Reform Bill is targeting, is supported so that the industry can deliver best-in-class homes for rent with secure tenures at a range of price points and locations, across the UK for the long term.”