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Renters Reform Bill won’t take effect until late 2024 at the earliest

Renters Reform Bill won't take effect until late 2024 at the earliest

Tuesday 9th January 2024

David Cox, the former ARLA chief executive, says the earliest that the Renters Reform Bill could come into effect is late 2024 - and that's without factoring in the complications of a General Election.

Cox left ARLA in July 2020 in controversial circumstances which have never been made public, and he now holds the post of General Counsel at the portal Rightmove.

In that capacity he says: "The Renters' Reform Bill is now going ahead after several delays this year, though the earliest it's likely to come into effect is the end of this year, and a general election could add further complications. Above all else letting agents and landlords want clarity, so that they can plan for the future and agents can provide the right guidance.

"The rental sector is filled with legislation and compliance requirements that agents and landlords need to keep up with, and so the earlier they understand the final contents of the Bill, the better they can prepare.

"It's likely that Energy Performance Certificate requirements in some form will re-appear in the near future, so landlords with lower EPC rated homes should still keep this in mind and consider the improvements they might make. However with the deadline scrapped and all the attention on the Renters' Reform Bill, it may be that while focusing on the changes the Bill brings in, considerations about green improvements take a back seat for some landlords."

In a recent Rightmove survey amongst landlords, a quarter said they planned to make energy efficiency improvements to properties rated below a C, compared to over a third last year. Similarly, of those landlords who have properties below a C, 21 per cent now say they plan to sell them, compared with 33 per cent in April 2023.

Rightmove also says that although there continues to be far more renters looking to move than homes available, the gap between supply and demand in the rental market improved throughout 2023.

Each home that an average letting agent advertises currently receives 11 enquiries from renters, compared to 14 at this time last year. Enquiries are typically lower in the winter months compared to the summer - this figure was 25 enquiries per property in August 2023.

At the same time, mortgage rates have been slowly trending downwards, with the average five-year fixed mortgage rate now below five per cent for the first time since June.

However, the portal warns that mortgage rates are likely to remain high this year, and saving up a deposit continues to be a challenge for would-be first-time buyers amongst wider cost of living pressures, meaning that there is likely to be ongoing demand in the rental market from would-be first-time buyers who need longer to get their budget and plans in place.

Portal spokesperson Tim Bannister comments: "The downward trend of mortgage rates and the improved balance between supply and demand in the rental market are positive early signs for the year ahead. However, it's important to remember that mortgage rates are still higher than in recent years, and there are still not enough homes available in the rental market for those looking to move. The challenges for would-be first-time buyers are likely to continue to have a knock-on effect for the rental market this year, with some who need more time to save up for their first home looking to rent for longer."