Renters (Reform) Bill – how does it affect farmers?

24 May 2023

A field of sheep with farmhouses in the background

The Renters Reform Bill was introduced in Parliament during May and includes new grounds for possession for landlords following NFU work with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. 

The Renters (Reform) Bill has been published and is set to change the current private residential rental system.

The NFU has worked with other industry stakeholders and the relevant government department to ensure that cottages on farm holdings which are let to tenants can be re-possessed by the landlord in the event they are required for an incoming agricultural worker. This can also be applied where the cottage has been let as part of an employment arrangement and that employment has ceased.

Under the Bill, tenancies will become periodic and have no set end date and landlords of properties let on Assured Shorthold Tenancies will no longer be able to serve a section 21 (no fault) notice on a tenant to bring the tenancy to an end. Instead, they will only be able to bring a tenancy to an end and take possession of the property if they can satisfy one of the grounds for possession listed in the legislation.

All tenancies will be periodic tenancies with no end date, and a new system of statutory rent reviews will be introduced.

Reforming landlord possession grounds

To enable landlords to be able to get possession in situations where it is genuinely needed, the legislation has introduced a number of new grounds for possession as well as strengthening existing grounds.

These grounds do not apply to tenants who occupy cottages as Assured Agricultural Occupants (as opposed to Assured Shorthold Tenants). Landlords of agricultural workers will continue to have to serve a notice on them prior to commencement of the tenancy if they wish to avoid an Assured Agricultural Occupancy being created.

In addition, there is now also a ground for where the landlord is themselves a tenant on an Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy or Farm Business Tenancy and is required to deliver up the holding with vacant possession at the end of their tenancy to the head landlord.

Other grounds include where a landlord wishes to sell the property or where the landlord or close family member wishes to move into the property.

Of course, it will also still be possible to use certain grounds such as rent arrears, deterioration of property or breach of tenancy.

The Bill is proposing that a term is implied into all tenancies that states tenants can request to keep a pet, and landlords cannot unreasonably refuse this request.

Notice periods

Different grounds for possession have difference notice periods. Should a tenant who has been served notice not leave the property on expiry of the relevant notice a landlord will have to apply to the court for a possession order.

Grounds for possession can be either mandatory or discretionary depending on what they are. This means that a court either must order possession or may order it at their discretion. The grounds mentioned earlier are all mandatory grounds.

What happens next?

Implementation of the new provisions depend on when the Bill receives Royal Assent and will take place in two stages. It is anticipated that the government will provide at least six months’ notice of the first implementation date after which all new tenancies will be periodic and governed by the new rules.

A second implementation date will be set after which all existing tenancies will also be governed by the new rules.

NFU members can seek further support from NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458

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