Tory ministers accused of watering down rental reforms by ‘handing control to landlord MPs’

Campaigners have accused the government of outsourcing the Renters (Reform) Bill to its “landlord backbenchers” following reports that Tory MPs are being consulted on watering down planned new rules.

The Renters (Reform) Bill is currently going through parliament and the government has pledged that it will abolish Section 21 evictions – a vow first made in 2019. But the Renters’ Reform Coalition is not convinced and argues that the long-promised new rules have been kicked “into the long grass”

The claim comes after it emerged yesterday that ministers are consulting backbench Tory MPs on watering down planned protections for renters in England.

The BBC says it has seen a series of draft government amendments to the forthcoming bill which aims to ban Section 21 evictions.

The proposed changes were circulated with Tory MPs who had expressed concerns about the bill and wanted to increase rights for landlords.

The government insisted it would still ban so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions by the election.

The Renters (Reform) Bill was first introduced last May. It would mean that landlords could evict tenants in England only under certain circumstances, including when they wish to sell the property or when they or a close family member want to move in.

But the bill has still not passed through the House of Commons.

About 50 Conservative MPs, some of whom are landlords, have expressed opposition to the bill. They fear that it would have an adverse impact on the PRS as many landlords would sell up, reducing the number of rental properties available.

A series of draft government amendments to the bill were circulated for approval on a WhatsApp group of Tory MPs concerned about the bill, according to the BBC.

One of those Conservative MPs told the BBC: “Agreement seems to have been reached on nearly all points.”

Michael Gove

But Tom Darling, campaign manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, said: “It is scandalous and farcical that the government are now outsourcing the writing of the Renters (Reform) Bill to their landlord backbenchers. It reeks of desperation.”

“They don’t want to be seen to have reneged on their promise to deliver a better deal for renters, but with the ban on Section 21 even further into the long grass, and the suggestion they are looking to ‘lower the burden on landlords’ to provide safe housing, England’s 11 million private renters will struggle to come to any other conclusion.”

Earlier this month, housing secretary Michael Gove insisted the government is committed to banning Section 21 evictions before the general election later this year.

Asked whether the practice will have ended by the time of a national vote, Gove told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme: “We will have outlawed it and we will put the money into the courts in order to ensure that they can enforce it.”

Responding to the amendments, as first reported by the BBC on Wednesday, Labour accused the government of “yet another betrayal of renters” and said it was “yet another example of Rishi Sunak’s weakness which means he always puts party before country”.

Angela Rayner

Shadow housing secretary Angela Rayner said the prime minister Rishi Sunak “must give cast-iron public assurances that he won’t give-in to vested interests on his backbenches and rip up his promises to renters”.

She added: “Having broken the justice system, the Tories are now using their own failure to break their promises to renters in the most underhand way. The Government must give a statement to Parliament today.”

A spokesman for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities commented: “Our landmark Renters (Reform) Bill will deliver a fairer private rented sector for both tenants and landlords.”

Reflecting on reports yesterday that the government is planning to amend the Renters (Reform) Bill, Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, urged the government to press ahead with the changes.

He said: “We have long accepted that the government has a mandate to end the use of fixed term tenancies and no-fault repossessions. Our focus has, and continues to be, on developing a replacement system that is fair and workable for tenants and responsible landlords. This need not be a zero-sum game between the two.

“The NRLA has consistently campaigned for the Bill to balance the protections promised to tenants and the legitimate business needs of landlords to enable them to continue to provide rented homes.

“If the government is considering amendments that would provide for assurances to landlords with a six-month minimum term and ensure confidence for all in the court process, then that balance would be struck. We now need to see these amendments published in full so that all parties can judge for themselves what is on the table and move on with debating the Bill in public. The lack of progress and uncertainty about the future is destabilising and damaging for those living and working in the private-rented sector.”

Also reflecting on the prospect of changes to the Renters Reform Bill, Lauren Hughes, of Vouch, said: “Another twist in the tale of this much delayed legislation shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it is a frustration. There’s no doubt that the Bill isn’t perfect, but the clock is tic, king and the industry has been in the waiting room for too long. It’s time to commit the new rules to the statute book and let the industry move forward. This holding pattern is benefitting no-one.”

Oli Sherlock, MD of Goodlord, added: “The latest chapter in the Renters (Reform) Bill saga is doing nothing more than creating further uncertainty in the private rented sector. The question of abolishing Section 21 has been in a state of limbo for too long.
“We were told months ago that the courts need to be reformed before Section 21 passes, but there’s been little sign of investment or progress in this area. How much longer will letting agents and landlords be calling for clarity? Meaningful preparation and planning can’t happen without it.”


Almost a third of Tory MPs trying to water down Renters Reform Bill are landlords



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  1. CountryLass

    But as landlords, they have a good idea of what the PRS needs, rather than people who have not rented in decades!

  2. AcornsRNuts

    Beadle the Bungler says. “We have long accepted that the government has a mandate to end the use of fixed term tenancies and no-fault repossessions.”

    He may have accepted that, his members HAVE NOT.


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