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Tory MPs Criticise "Flawed" Renters Reform Bill As Legislation Set To Sail Through Commons

3 min read

A number of Tory MPs have criticised the Renters Reform Bill as deeply “flawed” but a large rebellion was not expected as the legislation was expected to sail through the Commons.

The Bill, which was given its first reading in May 2023, pledged to reform England's private rented sector and received its third reading on 24 April 2024. The Renters' Reform Bill originally promised to abolish no-fault evictions and end fixed term tenancy agreements and replace them with rolling contracts otherwise known as periodic tenancies. 

The legislation has been spearheaded by Michael Gove, the Levelling-up Secretary, and has had the backing of Downing Street. But the legislation has caused controversy on the backbenches.

A former cabinet minister told PoliticsHome they had never voted against the Government but were seriously considering voting against this key legislation.

Many Conservative MPs believe the legislation has been poorly drafted and could deter investment in to the private rented sector. One senior Tory MP said they were likely to abstain as they believed it was poorly put together. “People are quite grumbly,” they said, referring to their colleagues on the backbenches. “When the Bill has nine [proposed] amendments from the backbenchers it tells you it wasn’t well drafted.”

None of the nine amendments which were suggested by Tory MPs were picked up. The one many rebels hoped would be selected was Anthony Mangnall’s, which looked at watering down the Government’s ambition to abolish fixed term tenancies.

“I think inability of people to mutually agree a fixed term contract for their own property within the Bill is the biggest outstanding issue,” one leading rebel told PoliticsHome.

Support for watering down the Bill has commanded support from different wings of the party, which has surprised some in Westminster. Rebels who supported the Mangnall amendment in March 2024 included Alicia Kearns, who is firmly in the One Nation camp, and ERG vice-chair David Jones on the rightof the party.

Despite there being many disgruntled Tory MPs, some rebels are relieved that the Bill has been watered down. “Mangnall has done a great job in watering the Bill down,” a Tory MP who is also a landlord told PoliticsHome.

But housing charities and campaigners have criticised the Government for changing parts of the Bill, and have decided to pull their support.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said that without serious amendments the Bill would be a “colossal failure” which would not protect tenants from unfair convictions.

Meanwhile the Renters Reform Coalition said its concerns were not “taken seriously” and claimed ministers had met with lobbyists and landlords twice as regularly as groups representing tenants.

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “Our priority remains ending section 21 as soon as possible. To do this successfully, court improvements must be put in place so there is a modern service which fits with our reforms to tenancy law.

"The assessment of the County Courts will enable us to consider the effect that our new system is having before our reforms are rolled out more widely.”

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