The government has announced the Renters’ Reform Bill with amendments will return to the House of Commons in mid-April.

MPs return to Parliament from 15 April and the legislation will resume its passage through Parliament within days.

The new amendments have angered activists and charities who campaign on behalf of tenants. The amendments have been introduced to address concerns raised by Conservative MPs that the legislation was anti-landlord.

The Chief Executive of Generation Rent, Ben Twomey, stated “Instead of appeasing a few landlords, the government should focus on preventing homelessness. The best ways to do this would be to give renters four months’ notice rather than two when we are evicted, while making sure we can’t be kicked out within the first two years of a tenancy if we stick to the rules.”

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said “It’s cowardly that the government would rather betray renters than stand up to a minority of MPs hell-bent on browbeating them into watering down the Renters Reform Bill.”

Crisis Chief Executive Matt Downie says “There has been positive movement on homelessness prevention measures in this bill, which would see households still being supported after eviction, which we very much welcome.”

“But with the bill still not published and continued uncertainty over ending no-fault evictions, this situation continues to cause anxiety for millions of renters across the country.”

Lat week the government told Conservative MPs that the amendments would include:

  • Accepting a proposal by the cross-party housing select committee that when fixed term tenancy agreements end, “tenants be unable to give two months’ notice to leave until they have been in a property for at least four months.” The Committee noted that: “This will give landlords the legal certainty of at least six months’ rent at the start of a tenancy.”  Protections should be in place however to ensure tenants can leave earlier than this where properties are not of a decent standard, and to protect those suffering from domestic abuse.
  • Reviewing the operation of the courts before ending section 21 for existing tenancies to ensure the justice system can cope with the increased workload. The Law Society has warned that: “without investment for housing legal aid and the courts, the bill will not achieve its aims and may lead to an increase in backlogs and landlords and tenants alike will be unable to enforce their legal rights.”
  • Ensuring all types of student housing, including one and two bed properties, are covered by the planned ground for possession to protect the annual cycle of the student housing market. This will ensure landlords can guarantee to prospective students that properties will be available to rent from the start of each academic year. Universities UK has noted that: “the annual cyclical model is critical for landlords’ business models which ensures a timely and robust supply of student accommodation.”
  • Reviewing the need for local authority licensing schemes in light of the proposed property portal, an idea contained in the Renters’ Reform Bill.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association says “All the rumour, speculation and off-the record briefings about the future of the Bill has caused a huge amount of concern and uncertainty for tenants and responsible landlords.”

“The Government has a mandate to end section 21 repossessions. Our focus has been on ensuring that the replacement system works, and is fair, to both tenants and responsible landlords. The changes being proposed would achieve this balance.”

“Ministers now need to crack on to ensure the Bill can proceed with the scrutiny it deserves.”

“The lack of progress and uncertainty about the future is destabilising and damaging for those living and working in the private-rented sector. It is time to bring this to an end.”  

A government spokesperson stated “Our landmark Renters’ Reform Bill will deliver a fairer private rented sector for both tenants and landlords. It will abolish section 21 evictions – giving people more security in their homes and empowering them to challenge poor practices.”

“The Bill must strike the balance between delivering security for tenants and fairness for landlords. We have listened to feedback from landlord and tenant groups and from MPs, and will bring amendments forward at Commons Report Stage after Easter recess.”