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MPs Criticised for Undermining Renting Reforms

Campaigners have voiced strong criticism against a faction of 40 Conservative MPs, accusing them of forming a ‘cabal’ to dilute the effectiveness of the proposed Renters (Reform) Bill in a bid to protect their own financial interests. The Renters’ Reform Coalition has highlighted that five of the ten MPs in England with the largest landlord portfolios are actively involved in this effort.

Key figures such as Nick Fletcher, Marco Longhi, Bob Blackman, James Gray, and Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown, who collectively own a significant number of privately rented properties, have supported amendments introduced by Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall. These amendments are seen as a direct threat to the integrity of the legislation, with proposals that include allowing ‘hearsay’ evidence in eviction cases, indefinite delays to the bill’s enactment, and the potential abolition of council licensing schemes designed to improve housing standards.

One particularly contentious amendment seeks to maintain fixed-term tenancies upon ‘mutual agreement’ between landlords and tenants, a move campaigners argue would unduly favour landlords and maintain the status quo of power imbalance.

The Renters (Reform) Bill, while already subjected to compromises favouring landlords, such as the postponement of the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and alterations easing the eviction of tenants for anti-social behaviour, faces further dilution from these proposed amendments. Housing Secretary Michael Gove has pledged to eliminate Section 21 evictions before the next General Election, yet the bill remains stalled at its Report Stage in the House of Commons since its introduction last May.

With 30% of the 40 MPs backing the amendments identified as landlords themselves, controlling a combined total of 48 rental properties, there is growing concern over the potential conflict of interest and its impact on the bill’s objectives. Tom Darling, Campaign Manager for the Renters’ Reform Coalition, emphasized the ethical responsibility of MPs profiting from the rental market to support meaningful reforms that address its flaws, rather than undermining them.

Darling expressed apprehension over the government’s willingness to make concessions to these MPs in order to expedite the bill’s passage, potentially compromising on key reforms, including the much-debated abolition of no-fault evictions. The situation underscores a pivotal moment for the future of renting in England, with the potential for significant legislative change hanging in the balance.