Generation Rent today warned the government that time is running out to keep its manifesto promise to protect private renters from arbitrary eviction, as we estimate that 10,633 households have faced a no-fault eviction since the Renters (Reform) Bill was published.
The warning comes as the government confirmed that the first debate of the legislation will not take place until at least after party conference season. With the King starting the final session of the current Parliament on 7 November, there are a maximum of two weeks during which the Second Reading debate can take place before the government sets out its new legislative agenda.
Under Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act, private landlords can evict tenants without needing a reason, and with just two months’ notice. This makes it difficult for tenants to complain about disrepair, challenge unaffordable rent increases or plan for the future.
The Renters (Reform) Bill, published at its First Reading on 17 May, will abolish Section 21 evictions. In the 120 days since the Bill was published, we estimate, based on data from the Ministry of Justice, that 10,633 households have faced court action to evict them under Section 21 – 87 per day. The emotional and financial cost to these evictions cannot be understated and highlight why reform is so pressing.
The government first committed to abolishing Section 21 in April 2019 and was subsequently re-elected on a manifesto commitment to do so. Polling by Public First for Onward found that the proposals had the support of 72% of the public, second only to the Levelling Up Bill – making it a significantly popular piece of legislation across the political spectrum.
If no progress is made on the Bill then it is unclear if the government will pursue it in the final year of the Parliament.
Asked about the Bill at today’s Commons Business Statement, Penny Mordaunt reiterated the government’s commitment to the Bill and that dates would be announced in future business:
Ben Twomey, Chief Executive of Generation Rent, has written to Housing Secretary Michael 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. 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.
If you want to help bring the Bill back before Parliament then email your MP and ask them to help bring the Bill back for its Second Reading.