Back on the agenda

The prospect of wide-scale rental reform has been on the table for years and was a crucial part of the Boris Johnson administration’s agenda – before Covid, Brexit, and the war in Ukraine held it up.


When Liz Truss took over as Prime Minister, it looked like some proposals might be watered down or scrapped altogether.


But how does current PM, Rishi Sunak – a vital part of the Johnson administration – see rental reform?


Here, we take a closer look. 

Gove is back in charge

One of the main drivers of rental reform, and one of the key architects of the ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’ White Paper, was Michael Gove, who was reinstated as Housing Secretary once Sunak became Prime Minister. He was previously sacked in the final moments of Johnson’s premiership.


As soon as he returned to Government, Gove quickly reaffirmed the commitment to reforming the private rented sector (PRS), closely following the recommendations in the White Paper.


Meanwhile, a few days after Sunak gave his first speech as PM, a senior minister confirmed the Government’s plans to introduce a Renters’ Reform Bill in this Parliament and stated it could become law by the time this Parliament ends.  

What is rental reform likely to look like

While Sunak hasn’t been very vocal about his intentions regarding rental reform, his reappointment of Gove to Housing Secretary would suggest he backs the agenda that DLUHC put forward.


But what is that likely to include? Here’s a quick reminder.

The White Paper, first released in June 2022 and updated in August, set out the Government’s plans to ‘fundamentally reform’ the private rented sector and ‘level up housing quality’ in the UK. The plan is also designed to deliver a better deal for tenants.


It includes:


  • The abolition of Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions and the introduction of a more straightforward tenancy structure
  • Applying the Decent Homes Standards to the PRS for the first time
  • Introducing a Housing Ombudsman covering all PRS landlords and providing redress for tenants
  • Introducing a new Property Portal to help landlords understand their obligations.


You can read the entire 86-page document here.





There are still many pressures on the government – particularly regarding the cost-of-living crisis – which means parliamentary time to introduce the measures is likely to be limited.


We’ve been close several times recently to finally seeing the Renters’ Reform Bill start its journey through Parliament, only for something to get in the way.


There is broad public and cross-party support for the measures, which means it is possible they will finally be brought forward in 2023. There is also the impending 2024 election to consider – the Government could seek to act quickly next year to ensure the changes are implemented into law before the country returns to the polls.


The Government will be wary of annoying or deterring landlords too much, but equally, it will be keen to target the increasingly precious tenant vote.


Gove’s reputation as a doer, with the political clout to get things through, could help to accelerate the reforms.


It’s likely that landlords, letting agents, and tenants will be keen for some clarity after years of uncertainty.


Boris Johnson first made widespread rental reform a crucial part of the Conservative manifesto for the December 2019 election. If more economic and political stability returns under Sunak, the likelihood of the Renters’ Reform Bill reaching Parliament at some point this year will go up a few notches.