Junior housing minister Kelly Tolhurst says the government will introduce the controversial Renters Reform Bill “very soon.”
This Bill is the one which will include measures to abolish Section 21 rights for landlords and their agents, and will introduce so-called lifelong deposits which can ‘shift’ from one property to another, preventing the need for tenants to raise brand new deposits each time they move.
In a debate in the House of Commons, Tolhurst – a minister at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – made the announcement in an answer to a question about what steps were being taken to ensure the security of tenants in the private rental sector.
Tolhurst told MPs: “The government are committed to enhancing renters’ security by abolishing no-fault evictions. During the Covid-19 pandemic, our collective efforts have been focused on protecting people during the outbreak. This has included introducing longer notice periods and preventing evictions at the height of the pandemic on public health grounds. We will introduce a renters’ reform Bill very soon.”
When pressed further, she continued: “We are committed to abolishing no-fault evictions under section 21. Obviously, we have already taken some action. Last week, for example, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State increased the ban on evictions for a further six weeks. We have also introduced six months’ notice, which means that people who receive an order now will find that it will not go through the courts until July. We are committed to making sure that we protect anybody who is suffering homelessness. That has been borne out by the level of investment that we have put into the sector during the pandemic. We will keep all these measures under review.”
The concept of the Renters Reform Bill first appeared in the 2019 Conservative General Election manifesto 14 months ago; it was also included in the Queen’s Speech over a year ago, with the pledge it would be included in the legislative programme for 2020.
However, then Coronavirus hit and no date was made available in Parliamentary business for the Bill to be introduced; last September the housing minister Christopher Pincher told the Commons: “We will do that at the appropriate time when there is a sensible and stable economic and social terrain on which to do it.”
The Bill was one of dozens of proposed pieces of legislation to have been pushed back as Parliamentary and civil service time was occupied by Coronavirus and, until recently, Brexit.