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Landlord Conservative MPs are ‘Lobbying to Water Down Protections for Renters’

The allegations come as one in three renters say private renting is negatively impacting their mental health – with eviction threats looming in many cases

Photo: Orlando Britain / Alamy

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Correction: This piece was amended at 2:30pm on 29th February after Generation Rent retracted analysis which had suggested that households made homeless outnumbered households buying their first home in the year to October.

A spokesperson for the group said: “It has come to our attention that the first time buyer figures provided through Stamp Duty statistics do not include people paying less than £250,000 since September 2022. We cannot therefore back up that claim. There is actually no reliable figure for first time buyers. We’d like to sincerely apologise.”

Conservative ministers are proposing to water down planned new protections for renters, following lobbying from landlord MPs, according to reports. 

The Times reported on Wednesday that PM Rishi Sunak is preparing to overrule Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, and water down the long-delayed Renters Reform Bill. The bill would fulfil a long-standing pledge to end so-called no-fault evictions, but it has faced stiff opposition from landlord MPs. 

The Renters Reform Bill has seen no parliamentary progress since committee stage in November. The Renters Reform Coalition has pointed out that 16 of the MPs are private landlords, with some owning five or more properties.

On Wednesday, Shadow Communities Secretary Angela Rayner said the reports marked another “betrayal” from the government, but Downing Street insisted ministers are committed to banning no fault evictions, as Politico reported. 

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Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Helen Morgan MP said: “Once again the Conservative Government has broken its promise and left vulnerable families across the country at the mercy of no fault evictions.   

“Everyone deserves a secure home, but yet another broken promise will put renters at risk through no fault of their own. For once, Rishi Sunak needs to stick to his word, and ban no fault evictions.”

The London Renters’ Union recently claimed the state of the UK’s private rental sector is causing a “mental health crisis” affecting millions of people.

A YouGov poll for the group earlier this month found that one in three renters feel that private renting is negatively impacting their mental health, with three in five renters say they feel depressed about paying their rent. 


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And one in four renters also said that renting had a negative impact on their physical health. 

Rents are rising to record highs, particularly in the capital. More than two thirds of landlords with no remaining debt on their properties have increased rents on new tenancies, LRU analysis suggests. 

But they have also warned that banning no-fault evictions will not tackle the problem of rising rents. 

In October last year, LRU launched the Renters Manifesto alongside thinktank New Economics Foundation, Generation Rent, and other tenants unions. The manifesto called for comprehensive rent controls, as well as a shift towards more public housing. 

Scotland has committed to introduce rent controls, and Wales is planning to consult on the policy. The Right to Buy council homes (at heavily discounted rates) has also been banned in Scotland and Wales. 

There have been reports that Chancellor Hunt could announce 99% mortgages in his budget next week, to help would-be buyers struggling with deposits for a home. But industry experts fear boosting demand without increasingly supply would merely make the problem worse by inflating house prices further.

The National Housing Federation (NHF) and Shelter recently issued a joint call for the Government to fund the delivery of 90,000 new social-rent homes a year. According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, ‘the government would break even in three years, help create 140,000 jobs and lead to a £12bn profit over 30 years’, the LDN newsletter reported. 


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Housing Crisis Hotspot

For those in low-wage coastal areas like Cornwall, the housing situation is also chronic. Max Scout, secretary of the ACORN renters union there, told Byline Times: “We have a lot of members that have faced evictions in the past year, particularly section 21 evictions. As more and more properties become Airbnbs and short-term lets or second homes, available housing becomes more scarce.

“And because of the rent increases, people’s housing situation becomes more and more precarious…The commodification and the precarity of housing puts people at risk of homelessness. There’s in excess of 20,000 people on the waiting list for social housing in Cornwall,” Scout said.

Even those with somewhere to live struggle with the quality of rental stock. ACORN in Cornwall recently ran a successful campaigns to improve housing quality, after members complained that one social housing group failed to even provide carpets for tenants.

But it is the lack of rental options that is most acute in Cornwall. In the face of anger over the growing number of properties being turned into holiday lets, Michael Gove recently announced plans to require home owners to apply for planning permission if they wanted to convert housing stock to holiday homes.

But the Lib Dems say that planning permission should be needed for anyone wanting to convert a property from permanent to any non-permanent use – whether a holiday let or a second home. Moreover, the plans would not apply to the thousands of existing holiday lets that campaigners say take housing stock out of the under-supplied rental market. 

Lib Dem Andrew George branded it the “umpteenth re-announcement by Conservatives of an intention to do something about the injustices of the way the system works,” adding: “Nothing has actually happened.” 

Cornwall housing campaigners say there is a major tax loophole – the Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) system – which entitles holiday home owners to avoid paying either council tax or business rates, resulting in millions of pounds of subsidies for holiday home owners in Cornwall alone since 2012. 

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Josiah Mortimer also writes the On the Ground column, exclusive to the print edition of Byline Times.

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