Landlords call for return of Bill banning no-fault evictions

Landlords have called on the next government to urgently pass legislation previously proposed by the Conservatives which would outlaw so-called “no fault” evictions and boost tenants’ rights.

A joint statement by four organisations representing more than 100,000 landlords said the sector had faced five years of uncertainty over plans to end Section 21 repossessions and called for the issue to be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible.

The Renters (Reform) Bill would have also imposed new obligations on landlords aimed at ending discrimination against those on low incomes.

The Bill, which was described by homelessness charity Shelter as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to address problems facing renters, had reached its second reading in the House of Lords when the General Election was called and Parliament was dissolved.

Criminal Justice Bill
A big rise in evictions is said to have contributed to increased homelessness (PA)

The Bill had received cross-party support and Labour indicated it would “happily” pass the legislation in the final days of the last Parliament, but it was not prioritised by ministers.

The Government had previously indicated it would delay implementation of the ban on Section 21 repossessions until the courts were assessed to have the capacity to deal with new cases, prompting accusations that ministers have abandoned renters and conceded to “pro-landlord Conservative MPs”.

In the joint statement, the National Residential Landlords Association, Grainger PLC, the British Property Federation and Leaders Romans Group said: “Renters, landlords and letting agents have faced five years of uncertainty over plans to end Section 21 ‘no fault’ repossessions.

“With all the main parties’ manifestos committed to delivering rental reform, it’s time to bring the issue to a conclusion. Only this approach will enable the sector to look forward and unlock the investment in new housing that renters desperately need and deserve.

“The Renters (Reform) Bill to end Section 21 was well on its way through Parliament before the election with broad support, and Labour has said it could have ‘happily’ agreed it in the ‘wash up’ period.

“The best way for the next government to achieve their objectives would be to resurrect this Bill as a matter of urgency.”

After Rishi Sunak called the General Election on May 22, Labour’s shadow housing minister, Matthew Pennycook, told Sky News that his party would have  supported the Renters (Reform) Bill becoming law.

He added: “(The Bill) is not perfect, we wanted to see it strengthened, but renters are so desperately in need of greater rights and protections we will see it through.”

At second reading of the Bill in the House of Lords, housing minister Baroness Swinburne argued that it provided a “comprehensive, balanced package of measures that will meet the needs of the sector for the 21st century.”

She added: “The Bill will give tenants the protections and security they need to feel truly at home in their communities, and give landlords the confidence that, if they do the right thing, they can be rewarded for providing those very homes.”

Responding to the Labour Manifesto, Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said: “With Labour and every major party committed to ending no-fault evictions, the next government now has a strong mandate to rapidly reform renting – making it safer, secure, and more affordable – no ifs, no buts.”