“It’s remarkable that we are sitting here four months after the Renters Reform Bill was introduced – four years after it was first promised – and there are question marks around whether or not we will ever see it again,” said Tom Darling, campaign manager of the Renters (Reform) Coalition – a group of organisations campaigning for renters including Shelter, Crisis and renters unions Acorn and London Renters Union.
“The crisis in private renting is reaching something of crescendo – rents are skyrocketing, and the number of properties available for the poorest renters is vanishingly small, forcing increased numbers into homelessness and temporary accommodation. Renters of all stripes face insecurity in their homes like never before.
“Meanwhile, the government are seemingly sat on their hands, more interested in playing the blame game for the lack of progress than delivering this important piece of legislation to end no-fault evictions.
“It’s just not good enough. Renters have been waiting far too long and we will hold them to account for their failures if they aren’t able to deliver the change we have been promised.”
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The Conservative government first announced it would introduce legislation to scrap no-fault evictions, also known as Section 21 evictions, in April 2019.
The Renters Reform Bill was announced in June 2022, promising to strengthen tenants’ rights, including giving renters more power to keep pets and to block landlords from excluding families with children or people receiving benefits from their properties.
The bill made its debut in parliament in May but a second reading has been delayed ever since.
The FT said a “blame game” across government has seen the legislation stall. Supporters of the bill have accused the whips’ office of lobbying against the bill because five of 16 whips own rental property, one FT source said. Another source in the whips’ office denied this, calling it “an absurd suggestion”.
Housing secretary Michael Gove has also not done enough to convince Conservative MPs who have doubts over the bill, the FT report claimed.
The waiting is taking its toll on renters. In the 120 days since the bill was published, Generation Rent estimated that 10,633 households have faced court action to evict them under a Section 21 eviction – amounting to 87 per day.
Ben Twomey, chief executive of Generation Rent, has written to Gove to urge him to hold the second reading debate as soon as parliament returns from its conference recess.
“The longer the government delays the Renters Reform Bill, the more renters will face the agony of an arbitrary eviction, with the cost and stress that entails,” said Twomey. “Time is running out for parliament to make progress and there is a real risk that because of delays, the bill will never become law.
“Given popularity of the legislation, it would be shattering for renters if the bill doesn’t get its second reading before this session of parliament ends. We cannot let this chance at reform disappear before our eyes.”
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Meanwhile, Chris Norris, policy director at the National Residential Landlords Association, said both tenants and landlords need certainty over when the bill is likely to be implemented.
Norris said: “Continued delay is only likely to exacerbate the supply crisis in the rental market.”
A government spokesperson told the FT the bill is “progressing through parliament and second reading will follow shortly”.
The Big Issue has launched a new campaign urging prime minister Rishi Sunak to support nine millions renters across the UK living in poverty to stay in their homes.
Bringing the Renters Reform Bill into law is one of the End Housing Insecurity Now campaign’s three asks, alongside reforming universal credit and unfreezing local housing allowance.
Big Issue founder Lord Bird said: “Now that parliament has returned, we must get this bill on the statute books and make sure the provisions in it for ending damaging no-fault evictions are watertight.
“Anything less will be a betrayal of this country’s millions of renters.”
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?
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