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Tory MP Believes Banning No-Fault Evictions Could Increase Homelessness

Craig Mackinlay, Conservative MP for South Thanet, who is a landlord, said the fuss around no-fault evictions was a “mischief that didn’t exist”.

3 min read

A landmark Government reform to the rental sector that aims to outlaw no-fault evictions is beginning to make a number of Conservatives nervous, with one MP suggesting it could actually increase homelessness.

The Renters' Reform Bill, which was laid out in Parliament this week, seeks to regulate landlords more heavily by scrapping Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 which allows landlords to evict tenants without a reason, introducing an industry-wide Ombudsman, ending fixed term tenancies and allowing tenants to keep pets.

The Bill’s boldest proposal to scrap Section 21, is already proving to be something of a sticking point among some Tory MPs, who broadly believe the measure will become a deterrent to landlords letting out their homes, and therefore reduce the number of homes available to rent.

Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet, who is a landlord, said the legislation is attempting to solve a “mischief that didn’t exist”.

“I am a landlord and I have got experience with this. My main concern is landlords have been hit by a number of measures over the last few years,” he told PoliticsHome.

Mackinlay worried that many landlords would pre-empt the potential ban and evict tenants under current rules, before a change in the law prevents them from doing so. 

“I hope local authorities are ready for a rush of Section 21 orders [before the Bill passes] as there will be a lot of homelessness,” he added. 

But Mackinlay did not expect there to be a significant backbench rebellion on the issue, because the “ship has sailed” to block the legislation. He does however intend to make a speech when the Bill returns to the Commons and could not confirm whether he would vote for it. 

Marco Longhi, MP for North Dudley, who is also a landlord, told PoliticsHome the Renters’ Reform Bill was “well meaning” but abolishing Section 21 could “damage renters” in the long run.

“Landlords… will continue to leave the sector. And as sure as night follows day, rents increase further and what then? Rent controls? Surely a more targeted approach against rogue landlords, one that requires Local Government to implement the powers it already has should be the best way forward.”

A former Cabinet minister told PoliticsHome “a lot of colleagues” were unhappy about scrapping Section 21, but was also unsure that there would be a “sizeable rebellion”.

The second reading of the Renters’ Reform Bill was expected in the Commons as early as today but did not go ahead.

The Renters' Reform Bill has been long anticipated, with former Prime Minister Theresa May pledging in April 2019 to reform the private rented sector. Her successor Boris Johnson backed the policy and included the pledge in his 2019 Conservative manifesto.

Last year, the Government produced a white paper titled A Fairer Private Rented Sector, which contained a 12-point plan to drive improvements in the rental market. 

It proposed halving the number of non-decent homes by 2030, abolishing no-fault evictions, giving landlords more powers to evict anti-social tenants, prohibiting landlords from hiking rent more than once a year, clamping down on criminal landlords, setting up an Ombudsman and giving tenants the right to request a pet.

The white paper was eventually drafted into formal legislation as the Renters’ Reform Bill. MPs and Lords will debate and potentially amend the measures, before they are passed into law.

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