Revenge eviction bill fails on a technicality
Landlords breathed a sigh of relief on Friday when the Tenancies (Reform) Bill, presented by Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather, failed to progress.
Rather than fail on a vote, the bill failed on a technicality. MPs Philip Davies and Christopher Chope chose to “filibuster” it or “talk it out” while not enough MPs were present in the House of Commons to vote for the Bill.
The debate started at approximately 9.30am and under parliamentary procedure only those Bills which are unopposed after 2.30pm may make further progress. Davies and Chope decided to ‘talk out’ the Bill.
Those MPs supporting the Bill tried to stop them by bringing forward a closure motion, whereby the debate was ended and an early vote called.
However for such a motion to be successful a majority, comprising 100 or more MPs, have to support it. It was only supported by 60 MPs and the debate on the Bill subsequently ended.
The Bill needs to pass Second Reading stage for it to stand any chance of becoming law by the next election. It is now unclear whether the Government will commit more parliamentary time to debate this Bill and try to force it through.
Following the result, founder of Landlord Action Paul Shamplina, who gave evidence at the end of October to the All Party Parliamentary Group, said: “This is great news for landlords. Whilst I fully agree that tenants need to be protected from the small minority of rogue landlords, there simply wasn’t enough evidence to support the need for more legislation, which would have impacted a large number of good, reliable landlords.”
“In the 24 years I have been dealing with problem tenants, I have only ever heard of the words “retaliation/revenge eviction” in the last 18 months. Section 21 gives a landlord an automatic right of possession without having to give any grounds (reason) once the fixed term has expired. Shelter’s figures that 213,000 tenants have been served Section 21 notices as revenge evictions must be guess work because without surveying every landlord, it is hard to understand how they have reached this figure.”
A recent survey of landlords that had instructed Landlord Action to serve Section 21 notices revealed that only 2% had served a section 21 because the tenant had asked for repairs. 28% served notice because there were rent arrears and 15% needed the property back so they could sell, 13% needed to move back into the property, 11% wanted to re-let to another tenant to obtain more rent and 8% said the tenant wanted to be evicted so they could be re-housed by the council.
“Passing this Bill would have created a loophole for tenants to remain in properties for longer, lead to further rental arrears problems, stretched the resources of local authorities even further and lead to longer delays at court,” said Shamplina.
Commenting on the Bill’s failure RLA chairman Alan Ward said the RLA doesn’t condone revenge evictions and wanted to see effective action to drive criminal landlords out of the private rented sector. However, he added that the Bill was badly drafted and missed its target.
“It would have punished good landlords and allowed bad tenants, savvy with their rights, to play the system. There is now an opportunity for the campaign groups to work with landlord representatives and local authorities to come up with a workable solution to tackle the small minority who practice retaliatory eviction,” said Ward, “Enforcement of current regulations is key. The RLA has already discussed ways in which councils can identify those landlords who operate under the radar with ministers, MPs and local government representatives.”
Campaign group Generation Rent blamed lack of MP support for the Bill failing. Alex Hilton, director of Generation Rent, said: “Only 60 MPs were prepared to leave the comfort of their homes to protect the safety of 9 million renters. Bad landlords now remain free to turf out tenants in awful conditions and tenants will continue to put up with mould, damp and faulty wiring for fear of eviction.
“This is an outrageous, feudal situation that is untenable. If MPs now don’t reincarnate these provisions in the Consumer Rights Bill we will know they are prepared to throw renters to the wolves.”