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Bill to reform rental market and ban no-fault evictions to get second reading after lengthy delay

MPs will get their first chance to debate the long-awaited rent reforms on Monday (23 October), according to reports

Renters Reform Bill campaigners call for no-fault evictions to be scrapped

Rent campaigners held a day of action in Westminster back in March but it has been a long wait since then to see the Renters Reform Bill make progress through Parliament. Image: Renters' Reform Coalition

MPs will finally debate the long-delayed Renters Reform Bill next week, according to reports, despite fears the legislation had been scrapped.

The rent reforms, which promise to ban no-fault evictions and give tenants stronger rights, are set to receive a second reading in the House of Commons on Monday (October 23), according to the FT.

The bill has faced opposition from Tory MPs, but housing secretary Michael Gove has reportedly won the battle to bring the bill back to parliament five months after it was introduced. The return means the bill can be carried over to the next parliamentary session following the King’s Speech on 7 November.

The Big Issue has been calling on prime minister Rishi Sunak to bring the Renters Reform Bill into law to protect 9 million low-income renters with the End Housing Insecurity Now campaign.

Tom Darling, campaign manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, said: “It’s great that the bill is finally set to come to parliament for a second reading, but frankly it shouldn’t take this long for the government to deliver on their own modest proposals.

“Thousands of households have already been made homeless while waiting for this bill and renters can’t afford to wait much longer for decent, secure homes. We’ll be pushing in parliament to strengthen the bill so that it delivers the change renters have been promised.”

Daniel Wilson Craw, Generation Rent deputy director, said the bill is getting debated “just in the nick of time”.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “The uncertainty over whether the bill will proceed or not has made it difficult for landlords and renters to plan for the future. 

“As they consider the bill, MPs and peers will need to make sure it secures the confidence of responsible landlords every bit as much as tenants. Should the bill fail to secure the confidence of landlords the shortage of homes will only worsen, ultimately hurting renters.”

The Conservative Party first promised to axe no-fault evictions, which allow landlords to evict tenants without giving a reason, more than four years ago. Also known as Section 21 evictions, they are considered a leading driver of homelessness with 24,260 households in England needing support from councils after being served an eviction notice last year.

The Renters Reform Bill was introduced in May this year, promising to deliver on the 2019 Conservative manifesto pledge to scrap them.

The bill also promises to give tenants greater rights to keep pets, introduce a decent homes standard, create a new private rented sector ombudsman and ban discrimination against tenants with children or receiving benefits.

There has been slow progress in parliament since May and the bill was noticeably absent from both Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove’s speeches from the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. However, Gove reportedly told fringe events the draft legislation would receive a second reading in the weeks ahead.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow housing secretary and deputy leader, asked deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden whether the bill was set for the axe.

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She said: “In his hour-long speech in Manchester, the prime minister didn’t mention housing a single time. Not once. But the housing minister did tell conference that renters aren’t all weed-smoking gangsters, which I’m sure the ministers knows all about that as he mentioned gangsters earlier today. Can the secretary of state assure us that despite the tone of those remarks the Renters Reform Bill will not be scrapped before the King’s Speech?”

Dowden replied: “We will continue to stand behind renters and to support them, and my right hon friend the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities [Gove] will take all necessary steps.”

However, the bill will not protect renters from skyrocketing rents. The Office for National Statistics revealed on Wednesday that private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK rose by 5.7% in the year up to September.

The surge was even higher in London with a 6.2% increase that was highest annual rise since records began in 2006.

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Richard Lane, StepChange debt charity’s director of external affairs, said private renters are struggling under financial pressures with one in three using credit to afford rent.

“Tenants are afforded little statutory protection from eviction, particularly if they do fall into financial difficulty,” said Lane.

“We’re yet to see any progress on the long-awaited Renters Reform Bill which was introduced to parliament several months ago. We would urge the government to follow through on its commitment to reform the private rented sector, and as part of those reforms, go further in protecting the most financially vulnerable tenants, who consistently struggle to make ends meet as the price of renting privately becomes increasingly unaffordable.”

The Big Issue’s End Housing Insecurity Now campaign is calling on Sunak to reform universal credit and end the local housing allowance freeze to help renters stay in their homes.

We’re calling on the prime minister to make sure everyone can afford to stay in their homes and pay for the essentials. Will you join us and sign the petition?

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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