Real Estate

Renters (Reform) Bill in danger of being killed off by General Election

The Renters’ (Reform) Bill will be lost unless it’s rushed into legislation before parliament is dissolved on the 30th May.

The bill, whose most high-profile element was the abolition of Section 21 evictions, has passed through the House of Commons and is currently at the committee stage in the House of Lords.

Generally that would mean the bill would be subjected to detailed scrutiny, but that’s unlikely to be achieved in time – so cross-party co-operation would be required to get it over the line.

The final few days where MPs must tie up legislation before parliament is prorogued is known as “wash-up”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to LBC about bills going through parliament: “It’s a question of conversations across all parties in parliament. Those are parliamentary procedures. When parliament dissolves at the end of a session and you have a couple more days to get the last bits of legislation through, I can’t force those through on my own.

“It requires a conversation with parties across parliament. That’s how our constitution works – that’s how our Parliament works. There’s no need to make any political point about it. That’s just the reality of the situation.”

Measures in the Renters (Reform) Bill have been introduced at a glacial pace.

Its key elements were proposed in 2019 by ex-Prime Minister Theresa May, but the bill didn’t even enter parliament until May 2023.

It then took until April 2024 for it to receive its second reading in the Commons, amidst reports of a Tory backbench revolt about the abolition of Section 21 evictions.

In its current form the bill states that Section 21 will be only be abolished after a review of the courts takes place.

‘No fault-evictions’ have caused controversy on both sides.

Tenants tend to see Section 21 as unfair, because it means they can be evicted through no fault of their own, while there are anecdotal stories of landlords using evictions in revenge when tenants ask for maintenance to take place.

Landlords however have raised concerns about the lengthy time it takes to use a Section 8 eviction, given that you have to go through the not fit-for-purpose court system to remove a bad tenant, while many defend the right to do as they wish with their properties.

In terms of other elements in the bill: periodic tenancies would become the norm, which would be rolling with no fixed date; tenants would be able to challenge unjust rent increases via tribunal; it would be illegal to refuse to rent to people for being on benefits or having children; there would be a new national landlord register; there would be a grounds for eviction for landlords who want to sell their properties or move back in; and tenants would be able to keep pets as standard provided they take out pet insurance.

It would certainly be controversial if such a wide-reaching piece of legislation ends up falling flat.

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