Majority of tenants in the dark about Renters (Reform) Bill, study finds

A recent survey by the TDS Charitable Foundation has uncovered that over four out of five tenants are yet to be informed about the Renters (Reform) Bill and its critical reforms to the private rented sector.

Despite a 27% growth in awareness within the past year, a significant 83% of tenants remain oblivious to the bill, which aims to introduce key measures such as the termination of ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions, the establishment of a new decent homes standard, and the creation of a new Ombudsman for private landlords.

This lack of awareness persists even though 69% of the surveyed tenants believe that the sector desperately needs reform. Following an overview of the bill, 61% of respondents felt that it would enhance tenant rights, indicating a positive response to its proposals.

Regarding the specific reform to remove section 21 evictions, 60% of tenants agreed that this change would offer greater security and stability. Furthermore, 40% expressed that the establishment of a new Ombudsman for private landlords would make them more inclined to engage with it. However, not all feedback was positive, with 8% disagreeing that the removal of section 21 would increase stability, and 32% remaining undecided.

The survey also highlighted tenant skepticism about the bill’s implementation and its potential impact, with 42% stating that the bill would change very little within the sector, and 37% doubting its enactment.

Dr. Jennifer Harris, head of policy and research at TDS Group, voiced her concerns, stating: “The Bill represents the biggest set of changes to the rental market for over 30 years. Given this, it is worrying that so many tenants are unaware of what it is and what it seeks to achieve.”

She further emphasised the importance of tenant empowerment: “It is vital that tenants feel able to challenge the minority of landlords failing to provide safe housing or a good enough service. This can only be achieved by ensuring renters understand the changes being made and are confident that they will help them to do so.”