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Labour Proposes Two-Year Eviction Ban

In a move aimed at reshaping the UK rental market, the Labour Party has introduced a proposal to amend the Renters (Reform) Bill, which would drastically change the rules surrounding tenant evictions and property sales by landlords. This proposal, if passed, could see landlords unable to sell or move back into their properties for two years after a tenancy begins.

Protection for New Tenancies
Labour’s shadow housing secretary, Matthew Pennycook, has spearheaded this initiative, which is one of eight new amendments brought to the evolving Renters (Reform) Bill. The primary aim of this amendment is to provide tenants with greater security by preventing landlords from displacing them shortly after a tenancy has commenced. This rule specifically targets landlords looking to sell their property or reoccupy it within the first two years of leasing it out.

Stability for Renters and Landlords
In addition to these restrictions on landlords, another amendment seeks to provide stability by requiring tenants to stay in a property for at least four months before they can issue a notice to quit. This measure ensures that landlords have a guaranteed occupancy for a minimum of six months, considering the two-month notice period required from tenants.

Debate and Controversy Ahead
The bill, already extensive at 112 pages, will see these and other amendments debated in the upcoming third reading next week. Notably, the debate is expected to be heated, especially with 49 ‘rebel’ Tory MPs pushing for their amendments, which include proposals like banning section 21 evictions contingent on court system improvements and loosening evidence requirements for evicting anti-social tenants.

Moreover, Tory MP Natalie Elphicke has introduced a potentially groundbreaking amendment that would compel landlords to pay a relocation fee to renters if they are asked to leave within the first two years of the tenancy.

Industry Reaction
The industry’s response to these amendments has been cautiously optimistic. Propertymark, represented by Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns, expressed satisfaction with the inclusion of diverse perspectives in the bill’s amendments. Douglas highlighted the importance of retaining fixed-term tenancies and the crucial need for court system improvements to make the proposed abolition of Section 21 effective. Propertymark also supports reviewing or abolishing property licensing once the new Property Portal is operational, aligning with some of the concerns raised by the rebel MPs.

As the Renters (Reform) Bill heads into a critical phase of debate, these amendments represent significant potential changes to landlord-tenant dynamics, aiming to increase tenant security and reshape the regulatory framework of the private rental sector.