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Government's Renters (Reform) Bill progresses despite criticism from all sides

Rental Market Concept
By David Scane
24 October 2023
Public Affairs
renters reform

In recent developments surrounding the Renters (Reform) Bill, the government's promise to ban no-fault evictions, also known as Section 21, has encountered resistance from within the Conservative Party, as well as criticism from the Labour Party. The proposed legislation aims to overhaul the rental housing sector, but its enforcement may face delays.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has communicated to backbench Conservative MPs that the ban on no-fault evictions will not be enforced until a series of court system reforms are in place. These reforms include the digitisation of processes, prioritising cases, and improving the bailiff system. The rationale behind this delay is to ensure that the legal framework is adequately prepared for the ban to be effective.

However, some Conservative MPs have expressed concerns about the proposed ban, viewing it as "anti-landlord." They argue that it may add to the burden of landlords and potentially lead to a stagnant rental market with higher rent prices, drawing comparisons with the situation observed in Ireland.

The Labour Party has strongly criticised the delay, characterising it as a "grubby deal" and suggesting that it might not be implemented until after the next election. Angela Rayner, the Shadow Housing Secretary, accused the government of betraying renters and called on the Prime Minister to support the ban on no-fault evictions.

The Renters (Reform) Bill, as proposed, seeks to ban Section 21 evictions, making all tenancies "rolling" contracts with no fixed end date. While the government argues that court system improvements are necessary before implementing the ban, they have not provided a specific timeline for these reforms.

The Renters' Reform Coalition, a campaign group, has criticised the delay as "ill-defined" and questioned the government's actions since it pledged to end no-fault evictions in 2019. Data from the Ministry of Justice indicates a 41% increase in no-fault evictions in England between April and June.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has also expressed concerns about the uncertainty surrounding the bill, emphasising the need to secure the confidence of responsible landlords.

The opposition and concerns from both Conservative and Labour MPs reflect the complexities and debates surrounding the Renters Reform Bill, highlighting the need to strike a balance between tenant protection and landlord interests in the UK's rental housing sector. 

The Renters (Reform) Bill has passed its second reading and will continue its legislative process after the King's Speech on November 7, 2023. However, the exact enforcement date remains uncertain, and the bill may face further debates and potential amendments as it progresses.