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Newspaper claims rebel Tory MPs 'funded by landlords'


Rebel Tory MPs who lobbied for amendments to the Renters (Reform) Bill have received £450,000 in donations and earnings linked to landlords since the last general election, according to an investigation by the i newspaper.

It reports that 18 MPs received earnings, hospitality and donations, some of which came directly from property company directors and landlords, while others had tangential links and were given by private equity firms with real estate portfolios. There is no suggestion that the MPs have acted immorally or outside of parliamentary rules.

Last week, a leaked letter from minister Jacob Young revealed that proposed amendments included a plan to introduce a six-month minimum period on new tenancies and delaying a ban on no-fault evictions for existing tenancies until an assessment on the readiness of the court system to deal with repossession claims is published.

Financial interests

The i reports that figures from the Register of Members’ Financial Interests show Sir Gary Streeter, MP for South West Devon, earned more than £120,000 over the last four years as director of a company that lets out rent-to-buy homes. North East Hampshire MP Ranil Jayawardena received a £25,000 donation from the co-chief executive officer of a student accommodation landlord.

Andrew Lewer and Selaine Saxby are chair and vice chair, respectively, of an All-Party Parliamentary Group on the private rented sector, which is funded by lobbyists on behalf of a big landlord association for, although this is a matter of public record.

Lewer told the i: “The APPG has open and frank discussions about the sector and a wide range of opinions about the potential contents of the Renters Reform Bill have been heard at our meetings. Our vice chairs and attending members include members of the Labour Party.”

Responding to the findings, Rose Whiffen, senior research officer at campaign organisation Transparency International UK, said: “That several MPs seeking to delay and dilute a Bill aimed at improving renters’ rights have received substantial donations from the property industry presents a major conflict of interests.”


Despite the claims, rental sector groups have applauded the amendments to the Bill, including Propertymark, which represents letting agents. Its Head of Policy Timothy Douglas (pictured) says: "We have worked hard on behalf of agents to highlight the unintended consequences of removing fixed-term tenancies, including, crucially, those for student housing.

"The UK Government’s commitment to review the implementation of the move to open-ended tenancies and establish an initial six-month tenancy period for tenants, does provide more certainty for agents and their landlords.

“Propertymark has also long said that the key to the success of the Renters (Reform) Bill is a swift, efficient, and cost-effective court system, so it is also pleasing to see the UK Government commit to further assessments and measures to ensure the current inadequacies that exist in the court system are tackled before removing no-fault evictions.

“There is still a long way to go before the Renters (Reform) Bill becomes law, so Propertymark will continue to champion the role of property agents and iron out further unintended consequences to ensure the legislation works in practice for all.”


Renters reform bill