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Category: renters reform bill

Backbench Tory MP’s who oppose the Renters Reform Bill, some of whom are landlords, may influence a dilution of proposals from the government.

The group of fifty ‘rebel’ MP’s includes former housing minister Robert Jenrick, former homelessness minister Kelly Tolhurst, former leader of the conservative party Sir Iain Duncan Smith and the chair of the 1922 Committee (a committee of all Conservative backbench MP’s that has significant influence on the party), Sir Graham Brady.

The significance of those on the list of fifty implies a credible challenge is being made.

What amendments have been tabled by these MPs?

The following amendments were amongst the changes to the Renters Reform Bill requested by the group:

  • Repeal of the requirement for selective licensing
  • To enable councils to penalise individuals, where a corporate body commits a housing offence.
  • To add a clause that would allow courts to “consider hearsay evidence during the course of proceedings for possession on the grounds of anti-social behaviour.”
  • To stop tenants giving notice to quit a rental property, until they have lived in it for a minimum of four months.
  • To require the housing secretary to “commission and publish a review into the operation of residential possession proceedings in the County Courts used by residential landlords and tenants and the enforcement of possession orders” before banning Section 21 no-fault evictions.
  • To amend the Bill so that landlords of student lets, which are not houses in multiple occupation, would still be able to retake possession of their property in order to accommodate incoming students.

You can read the full amendment paper here.

How has Michael Gove responded?

Housing Secretary, Michael Gove, spoke to The Sun newspaper about the MPs calling for the changes to the Renters Reform Bill.

According to the paper he ‘defended’ their actions, saying that landlord backbenchers often have “very good ideas” and “provide a great service to tenants”. He went on to add that he will always "listen to MPs from across the House of Commons" and summed up his view of the landlord community:

The overwhelming majority of landlords do a great job. They want to have a relationship with their tenant that goes beyond just cash.

They want to make sure that they're providing a service that the tenant appreciates.

So, of course I listen to landlords.

We just want to make sure that this Bill works for them as well, because you need a healthy private rented sector.

Wider reaction is not as positive

Whilst this is very positive and much needed supportive sentiment from Mr Gove, tenant groups have voiced strong concerns.

Tom Darling, campaign manager for the Renters’ Reform Coalition spoke strongly on the matter:

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.

Whilst the Labour party reacted by accusing the government of “yet another betrayal of renters”, with shadow housing secretary Angela Rayner stating that the Prime Minister “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”.

What is the latest on the Section 21 ban?

Since the recommendations from the Conservative backbench MPs emerged, Gove has been interviewed by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg. She asked whether the ban on Section 21 no-fault evictions would be in place by the time of a national vote. Gove responded saying that:

We will have outlawed it and we will put the money into the courts in order to ensure that they can enforce it.

As much as landlords within the Private Rental Sector may welcome this positive sentiment, ongoing uncertainty around the Bill prevails.