More than four years after the Renters Reform Bill was first proposed by Theresa May’s government (April 2019) which at the time was described as a “step change” in protections for renters, ending Section 21 evictions and giving landlords and tenants more rights, the industry is still waiting for the legislation to be implemented.
The government showed it remains committed to the policy, amid industry uncertainty caused in part by the ill-fated Truss administration, when it finally introduced its long-delayed renting reforms into parliament in May of this year.
The Bill included almost all of the measures outlined within the Fairer Renting white paper, which pleased most of those campaigning for change within the sector, with a view to giving renters greater powers.
However, progress of the Renters Reform Bill through the House of Commons has been unexpectedly slow, with no date for the ‘second’ reading.
Although it is is considered unusual for a Bill take this long to move from a first to second reading, the government remains committed to implementing reform in the industry, but not all Tory MPs are convinced by the proposed change if reports are to be believed, and that could largely explain the delay.
A Whitehall source told the Financial Times last week: “There are a number of landlords in the whips office who are amplifying the level of concern among Tory MP and holding things up.” But the whips office denied the suggestion as “absurd,” adding “If the whips office has flagged concerns it is reflecting the concerns of the wider parliamentary party.”
A separate report in the Mirror newspaper over the weekend accuses five senior Tory MPs of blocking the bill – Steve Double, Simon Hart, Jo Churchill, Ruth Edwards and Julie Marson.
All five MPs are landlords.
“Tory Ministers have utterly failed to explain why four years after promising to ban no-fault evictions and months after publishing their proposals, nothing has been done,” said Angela Rayner, Labour ’s deputy leader. “It would be a downright disgrace if landlord MPs in the Tories’ own Whips’ Office were deliberately stalling and blocking protections for renters.”
Rayner added: “While the Tories once again serve their own self-interest and fail to deliver for the British people, Labour stands ready to make renting fairer, more secure and more affordable.”
A government spokesperson said: “The government remains absolutely committed to delivering a fairer private rented sector for tenants and landlords through the Renters Reform Bill. The bill which delivers our manifesto commitment is progressing through parliament and second reading will follow shortly.”