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Temporary Accommodation and the Renter's Reform Bill: What's missing and why we think it needs to go further

  • 5 min read |
  • Posted by Christa Maciver
  • On 05 June 2023

Last month, on 17 May 2023, the long-awaited Renters (Reform) Bill was tabled. There has been a lot of hope wrapped up in the anticipation of this proposed bill; hope that it will improve the renting experience for everyone, but also that with the ending of Section 21, or ‘No Fault’ evictions, it would reduce the number of households becoming homeless, keeping them in their homes and stemming the tide flooding into temporary accommodation.

At Justlife, our vision is that anyone in the UK facing the prospect of living in temporary accommodation will have experiences that are short, safe and healthy. All our projects at the frontline, as well as our wider systems-change initiatives, aim to push us towards this goal. Therefore, we were particularly interested in understanding the elements of the Renters (Reform) Bill that could bring us closer to realising this vision. This blog focuses on the different parts of the bill that we feel could have an impact in this area.

Renter’s Reform Bill: The main changes promised

There are six main changes being proposed to the Private Renting System in the UK. These are:

  1. Abolish Section 21 Evictions and move to a simpler tenancy structure where all assured tenancies are periodic, providing more security for tenants
  2. Introduce more comprehensive possession grounds so landlords can still recover their property
  3. Provide stronger protections against backdoor eviction
  4. Introduce a new PRS ombudsmen
  5. Create a privately rented property portal
  6. Give tenants a right to request a pet in the property

The main change that could have an impact on homelessness is the first on the list. This was also the most highly anticipated. One of the leading drivers of homelessness is the ending of private rented sector tenancies, in which Section 21, or ‘no fault’ evictions, play a large part. Although the loss of a private rented sector (PRS) tenancy is no longer the main driving factor in homelessness, there has been a dramatic increase in section 21 evictions since the ban on evictions during the pandemic. According to Shelter, between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022 Section 21 proceedings increased by 143%. Therefore, the move away from Assured Shorthold Tenancies, the main feature of which is the ability to use Section 21 to evict tenants, is one of the key mechanisms of this Bill that could lead to a reduction in homeless households.


Although much of this is welcome on the surface, there are some concerned that this Bill won’t create much change and could actually have a negative impact. Even though Section 21 evictions have been removed, the Bill creates plenty of new avenues for possession, some of which (like around non-payment of rent or anti-social behaviour) will follow a quicker repossession process and leave evicted tenants without the automatically triggered duty on local authorities to provide support that came with the section 21 evictions.

There is also the question of who will monitor whether landlords are genuinely following these new possession rules. Giles Peaker who runs the Nearly Legal Specialist Housing website, highlights concerns over the rules for possession if a landlord wants to have the property for themselves. While the rules stipulate that it cannot then be re-rented to the public for four months, the only party who may notice this would be the evicted household. This leaves plenty of scope for unscrupulous evictions even within this new legislation.

What is missing?

We were particularly disappointed to see that the proposed Decent Homes Standard for the PRS was not included in this Bill. Through our work as the co-secretariat of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Temporary Accommodation, we have been working to see improved regulation within the temporary accommodation sector. Our initial aim was for this to be included in the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill. Our chair, Siobhain McDonangh MP, raised this in the House of Commons on the first of March 2023.

After a brief debate, it was rejected by the government. We were advised that, because the properties that make up temporary accommodation fall across both the Private Rented and the Social Sector, it would be too complicated to put TA under a single regulatory body. From this perspective, at least 25% of Temporary Accommodation already fell under the purview of the Social Housing Regulator due to being provided by local authority housing stock or by housing associations. The advice was to pursue the inclusion of TA in the Decent Homes Standard which was likely to be brought forward to the PRS under the promised Renters Reform Bill. This, however, has not happened.

The Bill however does include a section (Part 4) that promises a report from the secretary of state on the safety and quality of Supported Exempt Accommodation and Temporary Accommodation. This report would require the government to set out its policy in relation to the ‘standards of safety and quality’ of supported exempt accommodation and temporary accommodation, including who should develop, oversee and enforce these standards with clarity around a local authority’s responsibility relating to this accommodation.

Government policy on supported and temporary accommodation

This part of the legislation sets out a timeframe of one year after the bill comes into force, for the government to publish this report. This timing is disappointing considering what we know about temporary accommodation now. Regulatory change is needed much more swiftly to ensure the safety and health of those living in Temporary Accommodation across England.

We will be watching the development of this bill closely as it makes its way through the different houses in parliament, and hope this legislation will lead to a reduction in the need for temporary accommodation. In addition, we will continue to work with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to find a way to ensure the proposed Decent Homes Standard for the PRS will include temporary accommodation. This is a crucial step if we are going to see experiences in TA be short, safe and healthy.