Renters have paid a “heavy price” for the Conservatives’ “foot-dragging” on banning so-called no-fault evictions, Labour has said as the proposed legislation to enact the change is due before MPs for the first time.
The Opposition and campaigners say tens of thousands of tenants have been kicked out of their homes since the Government first proposed a change.
The Renters (Reform) Bill, which includes the Government’s proposal to ban section 21 so-called no-fault evictions, alongside other measures intended to improve conditions in the rental market, is due for its first appearance in the Commons on Monday.
The change was first proposed by the Government in April 2019, and was then included in the Conservatives’ manifesto later that year, with campaigners criticising the subsequent delay.
The Renters’ Reform Coalition is warning Tory MPs that polling it has commissioned shows one in four of their 2019 voters live in the private rented sector, and that their support for the party is “now in free fall”.
The campaign group, made up of some 20 organisations supporting and representing private renters including homeless and housing charities Shelter and Crisis, also claims is polling shows “broad public support” for the Bill’s pro-renter measures as well as further measures.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has warned “uncertainty” over the future of the Bill has made it “difficult for landlords and renters to plan for the future”.
It has said that if the Bill fails to secure the confidence of landlords, then the “shortage of homes will only worsen, ultimately hurting renters”.
MPs will have their first chance to debate and vote on the Bill on Monday, but Parliament expected to rise for the end of the parliamentary session, a period known as prorogation later in the week.
Bills that have not passed before the end of a session usually have to begin their journey through the Commons again, but ministers can use a process called a carry-over motion to allow the Bill to continue its passage.
Labour claims that 71,310 households have had to leave their homes due to section 21 notices since April 2019, and that 21,332 households have had bailiffs kick them out.
Shadow housing secretary and Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “After four and half years of foot-dragging over Tory promises, there can be no more dither and delay in ending no fault evictions.
“At the height of a cost-of-living crisis, tenants have been left paying a heavy price for the Government’s inaction with tens of thousands threatened with homelessness and receiving visits from the bailiffs.”
She said her party welcomes the “long-awaited” Bill, but “will look to strengthen it to ensure it meets the scale of the housing crisis this Conservative government has created”.
Housing Minister Rachel Maclean said: “We are delivering our manifesto pledge to create a fairer private rented sector for tenants and landlords, ending no-fault evictions and strengthening landlords’ rights of possession on issues like anti-social behaviour – all part of our long term plan for housing.
“While Labour are shouting from the sidelines, only the Conservatives are taking the long-term decisions needed to deliver a more secure rental market for tenants and landlords.”
The Renters’ Reform Coalition said its polling of English voters shows 72% of respondents support a ban on section 21 evictions.
It said that among the one in four 2019 Tory voters who are private renters, only 47% now say they intend to vote for the party at the next election.
In cases where tenants could continue to be evicted through no-fault of their own, such as landlords seeking to sell their property, 71% of respondents supported increasing the notice landlords are required to give tenants from a proposed two months to four.
And the campaign group also pointed to results it said demonstrate people want wider protections for tenants to be ramped up, with 68% supporting the idea of preventing private rents increasing beyond the rate of wage or price inflation, something not proposed in the Bill.
The campaign group said the polling was carried out by Opinium, a member of the British Polling Council, with a sample of 4,295 voters in England between October 17-20.
Campaign manager at the Renters’ Reform Coalition, Tom Darling, said: “It’s shocking that we are only now at second reading of this Bill, in the four years since the promise to end no-fault evictions was first made, more than 100,000 have been put at risk of homelessness as a result of a Section 21.
“If that isn’t a good enough reason for some of these pro-landlord MPs to vote for this bill, then they should be warned that our polling today shows broad public support for pro-renter measures.”
He added: “And there’s a particular warning for the Conservative party who, perhaps contrary to the received wisdom, had one in four of their voters from 2019 live in the private rented sector.
“That support is now in free fall.”
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has previously said the Bill will “deliver a fairer private rented sector for both tenants and landlords”.
While the legislation seeks to abolish section so-called no-fault evictions, it is also aimed at strengthening protections for landlords to repossess properties where tenants are at fault.
The Government also wants to speed up the court process so landlords can regain possession of their property more quickly when tenants are at fault.
DLUHC said on Friday, in a written response to a report from a scrutiny committee of MPs, that the Government “will not commence the abolition of section 21 until stronger possession grounds and a new court process is in place”.