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MPs slammed for tabling sensible amendements to reform bill

renters (reform) bill

Campaigners have accused leading landlord MPs of trying to ‘gut’ the Renters (Reform) Bill as it goes through parliament, although the National Residential Landlords Assocation (NRLA) has said such amendments are needed to give landlords more certainty.

The Renters (Reform) Bill is in its Report stage within the House of Commons but the Renters Reform Coalition says five MPs with significant property portfolios are among a group of some 40 Conservative MPs who have tabled amendments to the Bill, with a further seven of them holding just one property.

The ‘portfolio’ MPs have been identified as Nick Fletcher, Marco Longhi, Bob Blackman, James Gray and Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown.

Although the Renters Reform Coalition says these MPs’ amendments would weaken the bill, many landlords might agree with the MPs desire to moderate the legislation, and their amendments have in part been a result of lobbying by the NRLA.

This includes allowing ‘hearsay’ evidence to be used in evictions over antisocial behaviour - something the NRLA says is essential to help landlords facing difficult and violent tenants - as well as requiring renters to live in a property for a minimum of six months before they can leave; and abolishing council licensing schemes intended to drive up standards given many of the Bill’s measures duplicate the regulations enforced by schemes.

The NRLA has similarly called for a 'moratorium period' at the start of a tenancy, during which a tenant cannot serve notice to end a tenancy, provided the landlord is meeting all legal obligations.

But the campaigners are particularly concerned with an amendment that would allow fixed term tenancies to be retained where there is ‘mutual agreement’ between tenant and landlord.

In practice, renter groups argue, landlords have so much power in tenancy negotiations this will lead to widespread retention of them.

The Renters Reform Coalition says the Bill has already given too many concessions to landlords including a delay to the end of section 21 until the courts are reformed, changes to make it easier for landlords to accuse tenants of anti-social behaviour then evict them, and a weakening of the process for challenging rent increases designed to act as disincentive to tenants.

The group wants the Bill to go further including longer notice periods and longer minimum tenancies.

Tom Darling (pictured), Campaign Manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, says: “Of course, being a landlord doesn’t mean you can’t be an MP.

“But we think those who personally profit from England’s broken rental market have a particular duty to their constituents to deliver reforms to the private rented sector.

“Indeed, they all stood on manifestos to do just that in 2019. The government will be sorely mistaken if it thinks it can pass a toothless Bill written by landlords and then get a pat on the back.”


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