Renters Reform Bill Scrapped: Section 21 Stays

Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove and other Tory ministers stand accused of taking the easy option by scrapping the controversial Renters (Reform) Bill.

The bill was killed as the Tories and Labour horse-traded the final pieces of legislation that would become law in the limited time before Parliament dissolves on May 30 for the 2024 General Election.

Gove structured the bill around abolishing Section 21 no-fault evictions by private landlords - labelled the most significant cause of homelessness in the UK.

The Tories first promised to axe Section 21 in the 2019 Election manifesto but finally introduced the bill last year.

Besides scrapping Section 21, the bill would introduce the first decent home standards for private rentals, a national database of landlords, and enshrine tenants' right to keep a pet.

Labour pledges more rent reforms

However, the bill met opposition within Parliament, with MPs claiming the new law favoured tenants over landlords.

Within the Tory Party, more than 100 MPs and 150 Lords have declared they rent out property. They argue with Gove every step of the way through Westminster and force him to water down the bill to delay the removal of Section 21.

Gove had promised the bill would become law later this year, but now his plans lie in ruin.

However, Labour has hinted that they will resurrect the bill if they win power.

Shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycroft said: “The decision to cave into vested interests and abandon the Renters Reform Bill leaves in tatters the promises they made to private tenants five years ago. Labour will pass renters reform legislation that levels decisively the playing field between landlords and tenants.”

Section 21 is still in place

Campaigners Generation Rent backed the bill and argued that whoever wins the election should prioritise rental reform.

Section 21 refers to legislation that allows property owners to evict tenants even though they have not breached their tenancy agreement. Reasons for repossessing homes under Section 21 include selling the property or the landlord wanting to make the property their home.

Critics claim landlords use Section 21 to evict troublesome tenants who complain about the state of their homes—sometimes, this is called revenge eviction.

Meanwhile, the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act is a new bill passed and became law on May 24.

The primary reform is a ban on selling leasehold homes in England and Wales.

Leasehold shake-up becomes law

Among the other reforms, the Act simplifies how leaseholders can buy the freehold of their property, increases standard leases to 990 years for houses and flats and makes challenging unreasonable service charges and repairs easier at a tribunal.

Owners who buy a freehold home own the building and the land it sits on, but leaseholders do not own the building or land it's on - instead, they pay ground rent and service charges for the right to use them.

Both bills were part of Parliament’s wash-up period—the time between a general election and the day Parliament dissolves. Other bills surviving the wash-up are laws compensating victims of the infected blood scandal and payments for sub-postmaster victims of the Horizon Post Office IT scandal.

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