The unexpected slow progress of the Renters Reform Bill through the House of Commons continues.
Although the official online documentation about the Bill has now moved from ‘First Reading’ to ‘Second Reading’ there is still no date for this Second Reading - despite the first happening within hours of the Bill being published back in May.
The whole process requires various stages to be reached in the Commons and then the Lords. These are the First Reading, Second Reading, Committee Stage, Third Reading, and finally Royal Assent. Some stages can be very quick - happening within a day - while others take weeks or months, taking into account lengthy Parliamentary recesses and a packed timetable of other legislation.
It is considered unusual for a Bill to take this long to move from a First to Second Reading.
On June 23 the Leader of the House of Commons - Penny Mordaunt, whose role is effectively to organise the progress of legislation - told one MP who enquired: “I know that that Bill is of great interest to many Members, in all parts of this House. The honourable gentleman will know that I will say that I will announce business in the usual way, but I am optimistic that he will not have long to wait.”
The National Residential Landlords Association says it could take up to 18 months for many elements of the Renters Reform Bill to become law.
It forecasts that Royal Assent - the point at which the Bill becomes an Act - will be at the earliest late this year or early 2024, and the government has confirmed that it 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.
Existing tenancies will be given a further twelve months’ notice from the first implementation date to convert to the new system.
So, even once Royal Assent is granted, it is likely to be at least 18 months before ongoing tenancies are required to move onto the new regime. That would take the timescale roughly up to the time of the next General Election, widely expected to be late 2024.