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Renters Reform Bill passes Second Reading without a vote

MPs have given the Renters Reform Bill its Second Reading - a procedure which means it now continues into the Committee Stage, at which it will undergo line-by-line scrutiny.

No vote was taken, as is common at the end of this stage of parliamentary business.

Opening the debate Housing Secretary Michael Gove repeatedly spoke of the need to balance the needs of tenants and landlords in the progress of the Bill; he acknowledged issues with the existing Bill for the student market and committed to regulating student housing appropriately. 

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The role of the justice system was central to the debate and several responses reiterated the need to make the courts fit for purpose before Section 21 is abolished - a point the Housing Secretary made over the weekend in a letter to the Select Committee on Housing. 

However, he repeated the government was committed to the removal of Section 21  to prevent bad landlords from intimidating tenants, silencing those complaining about poor standards of housing and the need for repairs. 

Alongside this there was a commitment to strengthening provisions under Section 8 to reliably regain possession where necessary, lowering the threshold to prove anti-social behaviour and tackling unscrupulous tenants who abuse provisions to protect the vulnerable.

Angela Rayner, the shadow housing secretary, told MPs: “The government has betrayed renters with this grubby deal [to delay the abolition of Section 21] with the Tory backbenches. The Conservatives’ long-promised ban on no-fault evictions has majority and cross-party support across the house, but this flip-flop kicks it into the long grass. Having broken the justice system, they are now using their own failure to indefinitely delay keeping their promises to renters in the most underhand way. This comes at a heavy price for renters who have been let down for too long already.”

But closing the debate her junior shadow housing minister, Matthew Pennycook, said: “We will work with the government on this Bill but make no mistake we will be pushing to strengthen it to the benefit of private tenants who have been waiting too long for this piece of meaningful legislation.”

Labour has made it clear it will be pushing for measures that go beyond those already in the Bill, particularly on an expansion of rent repayment orders; amending possession grounds to protect tenants against ‘no fault’ evictions; and the outlawing of blanket bans on landlords accepting tenants with children or who are in receipt of benefits.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - now an independent MP - called for rent controls and strengthening of some provisions in the Bill; these were rejected by Michael Gove. 

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    It’s about time they concentrated on creating new homes for the growing population where they could house all of their undesirables, rather than focusing on sequestrating our properties. But that would just be too difficult wouldn’t it. Also dampen demand by limiting immigration would help; especially the illegal and unproductive people.

    More supply and less demand would free up the PRS to run its own business without these MPs endless meddling.

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    The more they try to take our properties from us, the smaller the number of properties that will be available to rent.

    I let to people from overseas and from other parts of Britain who are here for a short time and who are going to help this country by sharing their valuable expertise. They are legal and productive.

    Who is going to house them when fixed term tenancies are outlawed; they will have to stay in small AirBnBs at a very high rent. Their experiences will not be a good advertisement for this country. I hope my tenants leave with the feeling that Britain/London gave them a good deal - lowish rent and large, spacious accommodation in London with everything they needed included like bed linen etc.

    Incidentally, a vote was expected yesterday by everyone. Would the RRB have got through after the debate? Without that vote having happened is it legitimate for it to have passed to the Committee Stage?

     
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    Ellie

    Your tenants will be preferred over families who want to stay long term once fixed term tenancies are outlawed.

    In Scotland, students are now the desired tenants because they won't stay long term and have solvent middle class guarantors.

     
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    I believe that the NRLA is pressing for tenants to have to stay in a property for six months before being able to give notice in order that the minimum tenancy length is, in effect, eight months.

    Some of mine only want to stay for three months or one term if they are affiliated with a university as a visiting academic or professor. Many landlords are not prepared to let for that short period of time without charging a high rent.

     
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    Apart from students I've always started with a 6 month AST and let it run on as a SPT. Tenants stay as long as they want. Maybe a year, maybe over 10 years. As long as they pay the rent and look after the property I'm happy.

    Occasionally someone needs to leave in less than 6 months. Not a problem. They pay the rent until the new person moves in. It's usually less than a week from one moving out and the new one moving in. It's not something I encourage and certainly have no intention of entering the short term market but if it happens it's not a major issue.

     
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    That is what is good about the existing system; it allows for different ways of operating and different tenancy lengths.

    As long as both landlords and tenants are happy with the arrangement, there isn't a problem.

    My business model developed because I had well over a million pounds to raise to pay the inheritance tax bill. I wasn't sure whether I should keep or sell the properties. Therefore I wanted to let to tenants whom I didn't have to ask to leave if I decided to sell.

    I am happy with my business model because it allows me a short period at the end of each tenancy to carry out any improvements or identify any problems which haven't been reported to me.

     
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    My business has more expenses than the average buy to let. I have to keep buying new duvets and pillows because nobody wants anyone else's old duvet and pillow.

    Pots and pans also need quite frequent replacement.

     
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    Yet more reasons for Landlord's to put their properties up for sale, the Government would be more useful if we turfed them out and turned the House of Parliament into just that.....a very large HMO!

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    The debate last night was depressing 🥲 the amount of anger from the Labour lot was palpable, we are doomed when they get in, everything the Conservatives have reversed, Labour will just bring back.

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    Any concessions will be temporary - they want the PRS to fulfil the roll of social housing ie permanent, long term homes, so this is just going to keep on down the track until we get there - its just about the speed of the train.

    All the small, 'amateur' LLs will be rail loaded out of the PRS & only bigger players will be left. That's fine - I am taking my money & heading for the exit.

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    I don't understand why the government and activists can't see that the PRS is not a one size fits all entity.

    Roughly half of PRS properties are owned by landlords with less than 5 properties, the other half by portfolio landlords with more than 5. Some landlords are only landlords short term as they have a house they couldn't sell or have inherited or are letting while they work elsewhere. It's understandable they want absolute control of the length of tenancy in those properties. Others have spent decades building their portfolios and very firmly regard their houses as the tools of their trade.

    We all have different preferences for type of tenant and style of letting. Some prefer fixed term tenancies, others prefer SPTs. Some prefer gold plated tenants who have every choice available to them, others prefer tenants who are more likely to stay longer. As long as both landlord and tenant are on the same page at the start of the tenancy chances are it will run smoothly.
    It needs to be recognised that fixed term tenancies are crucial for students, winter lets and seasonal workers.
    SPT rolling tenancies after an initial 6 month period are fine as long as a functional eviction system is in place. In some parts of the country it's the way we have operated for years.
    Some tenants want a specific fixed term, others want to find somewhere they can stay long enough to at least get their kids through school.

    It doesn't matter what the government says on blanket bans on children or claimants. We need to know about household composition to ensure we don't allow overcrowding, so the existence of children needs to be taken into account. Some properties simply aren't suitable for young children from a safety point of view.
    The government have ensured claimants are going to fail affordability referencing by freezing the LHA at a ludicrously low rate. They are very often extremely good tenants but for any landlord who wants to buy rent guarantee insurance are a complete non starter.

    As a portfolio landlord I dabble in most types of letting (student fixed term, everyone else SPT, fully self funding, UC top up, single people, families with children and occasionally pets). The two areas I steer clear of are short term (less than 6 months) and gold plated families (most of my properties wouldn't appeal to them).

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    Good points as usual, particularly re. overcrowding.

    With no S21, how can we stop a tenant overcrowding during a new unlimited time tenancy; when the Local Authority can take us to court for allowing overcrowding?

    I had a tenant who over time overcrowded their 1 bed flat. I was able to use the threat of S21 to get them to move on to a larger place before the Environmental Health Dept. of the Council took action against me (though now with staff overstretched they may not be able to do so).

    Looking ahead, the proposed beefed-up Section 8 breach of tenancy agreement may be the only way to avoid this situation.
    So my newest tenancy agreements include a clause not to overcrowd, or permit overcrowding; along with a load of other things in anticipation of S21 going. So once I heard about S21 abolition, I made all the additions to the Agent's standard agreement myself, without getting a solicitor the check them (which I will do next time if S21 goes).

     
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    Can we please drop the 'no fault eviction' as it sends completely the wrong message. It is 'no reason given' eviction. No landlord evicts a good tenant unless they want to sell. This bill will not help bad tenants as they will in future be evicted for a given reason which is really going to help them get a new tenancy with a 'Bad Boy' label on their backs.

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    Bailiffs EVICT. Landlords give notice that the contract is ending.

     
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    Let's not forget >80% tenants are happy with their LL! Govt should be focussing on building more houses to increase availability & stabilise rents instead of tweaking the existing rules which will not house anyone!

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    What on Earth is Michael Gove talking about was he drunk or something. He is the very one that caused the imbalance prompting thousands of landlords to exit driving up Rents making housing un affordable. Loads more in the process of selling up or have switched to airBnB, it bad enough to be hit with unforeseen interest rate rises deliberately hiked allegedly to bring down inflation but is the cause of inflation. Just Add Section 24 that was more than enough imbalance without him and his Renters Reform Bill.
    He should know about imbalance he is the Architect of it.

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    Reading the comments it’s plain for anyone to see he is trying to fix something that wasn’t broken until he interfered,
    Well done Michael Gove you made a right sows ear out of that.

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    So we have a Second Reading of the Renters Reform Bill based on what to Home Secretary says he’s Committed to Removing Section 21 to prevent bad landlords from intimidating Tenants, silencing those complaining poor standards of housing that need for repairs.
    He has his mind made up to get rid of Section 21 so why is he wasting Parliamentary time, fist reading Second reading nonsense based on a blatant
    pack of lies by Housing Secretary he should resign clearly he doesn’t know his job.
    Where is the truth in what he says, how can S.21 intimidate or silence Tenants or get rid of them during a Contract period impossible its the landlords that are intimidated and not a leg to stand on. Tenants sometimes misbehave, damage property, create arrears, sub-let which is rampant since the introduction of HMO’s, licensing restricts the number of occupants the landlord can have so the Tenants fill the spare capacity.
    The landlord can’t get rid of a Tenant without a Court Case and require Legal
    Representation or it will keep being thrown out that will be a couple of thousands + £400. VAT Tax. So who is intimidating who surely it Mr Gove that is intimidating landlords.
    What he is doing is abolishing AST which were minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 7 years or any Contract period in between that both Parties signed up to or in more recent years Periodic were added where it could continue on the same basis by mutual consent depending on how to Rent was paid monthly or weekly. There’s no one taking advantage of anyone and everyone knew where they stood. This is now being turned on its head and the landlords property being confiscated by Rogue Housing Secretary, why on Earth do you think so many landlords are getting out, deliberately causing a housing Crisis laying the ground work for Corporate take over the Business that we created from nothing.
    Removal of Section 21 Totally unacceptable Scrap the Stupid Bill now haven’t you caused enough Homelessness. I’d like to see Mr Gove sleeping rough see how he likes it.

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    The problem is that despite taking astronomical amounts of tax from us, they don't recognise that we have any ownership rights. It is clear that some politicians think that they own our houses, and we have no rights at all.

     
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