Yvonne Fovargue MP: tenant reform is long overdue

I have long supported calls for more rights and better protections for tenants, including an end to section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to prevent renters from being uprooted with little notice and minimal justification.
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​Last year, research by Shelter, a housing charity, said nearly 230,000 private renters had been served with a no-fault eviction notice since April 2019.

The government first promised reform for tenants in the private rented sector over four years ago.

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But after years of delay, broken promises and arguments amongst themselves, the private rented sector increasingly resembles the wild west and it’s far from clear that this government can deliver.

Makerfield MP Yvonne FovargueMakerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue

So, the introduction of the long-overdue Renters Reform Bill to Parliament is a step in the right direction and I look forward to engaging in its development.

However, I am concerned about the loopholes in the Bill.

Even though the Bill provides steps towards scrapping section 21 evictions, there remain ways for ill-intentioned landlords to remove tenants unjustly.

The Government must swiftly take steps to amend that flaw in their legislation.

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In the short term, the Government must extend notice periods to a legal minimum of four months, with firm, punitive measures for landlords who do not abide by the law.

The Bill also lacks support for local authorities to act on injustices in their local private rented sector. I would like to see measures in the Bill to strengthen enforcement powers, require councils to report on enforcement activity and allow them to cap the advance rent that local landlords can request.

The Government owes local authorities an explanation of why it has neglected to give them the means to ensure the new legislation is successfully enacted.

I believe that landlords who are dealing with antisocial behaviour or even criminal activity from their tenants should be supported in reclaiming their properties. However, the Government must ensure that such exemptions cannot be exploited by bad-faith landlords to unjustly evict tenants.

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It is also troubling that the Bill does not include a ban on landlords refusing to rent to benefit claimants or those with children. This oversight should be reviewed and amended.

Labour’s Renters’ Charter will take real action to make renting fairer, more secure and more affordable.

This would ban section 21 evictions; end automatic evictions for rent arrears; introduce a national register of landlords; make deposits fairer and more flexible; permit pets; allow tenants to make reasonable alterations to their home; require landlords to give 4-month notice periods; and give tenants the right to request speedy repairs.

Renters’ Charter would take real action to make renting fairer, more secure, and more affordable.