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Ministers Met Landlords Twice As Often As Tenants’ Groups Over Renters’ Reform Bill

Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove speaks to MP Steve Double at a new housing development (Alamy).

3 min read

Ministers met with lobbyists for landlords and estate agents twice as often as they did groups representing renters as they worked to refine new protections for tenants in the landmark Renters Reform Bill, according to analysis by PoliticsHome.

At the heart of the government’s initial proposal to reform the private rental sector was a pledge to abolish the practice of ‘no fault ’evictions – the ability for landlords to evict tenants without cause often in retaliation for them making complaints.

But following backlash from some Tory MPs and landlords, who argued that this would make it impossible to evict difficult tenants, provisions for Section 21 of the bill relating to no fault evictions were watered down when the Bill passed its second reading in parliament in October 2023. 

According to analysis of public records of ministerial meetings, in the two years leading up to September 2023 ministers at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), including the secretary of state Michael Gove, met industry bodies representing landlords 23 times, an average of almost once a month. They met with groups representing private renters on 11 occasions.

Of the 23 meetings held with landlord industry bodies, the highest number (16) were with the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA). The NRLA has staunchly opposed several measures in the Renters’ Reform Bill, also including new energy efficiency standards and rent controls, warning that regulation of the private rented sector would lead to an exodus of landlords and reduce the number of available homes.

When Government announced plans to delay the ban on ‘no fault’ evictions last year, the NRLA celebrated the move as a “huge win” which they attributed to “extensive lobbying” efforts.

While Gove has vowed the ban would still eventually come into force by the next election, in recent weeks a group of Tory MPs, many of whom are landlords themselves, are understood to have been heavily lobbying the government to water down the Renters Reform Bill.

The delays and complications for the Bill come as new data suggests the number of no-fault eviction notices served in England increased by almost a third in 2023, the highest rate since 2016.

“Unfortunately, as many Conservative MPs are landlords, it isn’t a surprise to see that despite numerous invitations to speak to renter groups (opportunities frequently ignored by politicians), DLUHC ministers have spent more than twice the time meeting groups representing landlords than they have those of us representing renters,” Anny Cullum, policy officer for community and renters union ACORN,” told PoliticsHome.

“Once again this shows that ministers are more interested in the concerns of the 2 million landlords, than they are the health, security and wellbeing of 13 million renters.

“It’s 5 years since the Government first promised to ban no fault evictions, but this and other desperately needed changes in the Renters’ Reform Bill are being blocked by landlord MPs, delayed indefinitely since October 2023.

“Renters need stability, security, and a life without fear of being turfed out of their home for no fault of their own.”

A spokesperson for DLUHC told PoliticsHome that the Renters’ Reform Bill “will deliver a fairer private rented sector for both tenants and landlords. It will abolish section 21 evictions”. 

They added: “ministers and officials regularly meet with a range of groups, representing all those in the private rented sector.”

 

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