Landlords Hold Parliament Hostage, Peers Urged to Rescue Renters Reform Bill Amid Threat of Selling Properties

Landlords Accused of “Holding Parliament Hostage” Ahead of Renters Reform Bill Debate in House of Lords

On the eve of the Renters Reform Bill’s second reading in the House of Lords, landlords have come under fire for threatening to sell their properties in response to potential strengthening of tenants’ rights.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has warned of a supply crisis in the private rental sector, citing analysis of government data which found that 45% of people in need of homeless prevention support in the last six months of 2023 stated the reason was because their landlord planned to sell. This was more than double the next most common reason, which was landlords planning to re-let the property.

In addition, data from Rightmove shows that an estimated 50,000 rental properties are needed to bring the supply of rental homes back to pre-pandemic levels.

The NRLA has called for landlords to have “confidence to stay in the market” and cautioned against any attempts by peers to further strengthen the Renters Reform Bill, after it was watered down by MPs in the Commons. However, campaign group Generation Rent has accused the NRLA of using their concerns as leverage to prevent any strengthening of tenants’ rights, calling it “cynical”.

Ben Twomey, chief executive of Generation Rent, stated that while there will always be some landlords looking to sell, the short-term issue is that tenants have insufficient protections in place. He urged the government to incentivise landlords to sell their properties to existing tenants or with sitting tenants, and to prevent landlords from selling a property for at least two years after a tenancy has begun.

The campaign group also called for relocation relief for renters who are evicted through no fault of their own, allowing them to avoid paying the final two months’ rent while they search for a new home.

According to the NRLA, the main reasons for landlords selling up are growing costs and uncertainty surrounding the Renters Reform Bill. The legislation, which aims to address the power imbalance between renters and landlords, has faced numerous delays and controversies. It has been heavily criticised for diluting some of its key proposals, including the ban on no-fault evictions, which was first promised by the Conservative government five years ago.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLHC) stated that there is “no evidence” to suggest that the Renters Reform Bill will lead to landlords leaving the sector. They added that the bill “will deliver a fairer rental sector for both landlords and tenants”.

However, the Renters Reform Coalition, which includes Generation Rent, argues that the bill will only serve to maintain the power imbalance between landlords and tenants, and has called on peers to “rescue” it. The RCC is advocating for a package of reforms, including the end of no-fault evictions, four months’ notice for evictions, and limiting in-tenancy rent increases to inflation or wage growth.

In the midst of a wider housing crisis, which is characterized by insufficient supply and soaring affordability, landlords selling up is seen as the biggest challenge facing renters. NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle acknowledged these issues and stressed the need for policies to boost supply in the private rental sector, stating that the only solution is to ensure responsible landlords have the confidence to stay in the market and sustain tenancies.

As the Renters Reform Bill is debated in the House of Lords, the NRLA is calling on peers to support the bill in its current state, which they believe strikes a balance between the needs of landlords and tenants.

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