Consideration of Bill, as amended in the Public Bill Committee
New Clause 15
Notices to quit by tenants under assured tenancies: timing
“(1) Section 5 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 (notices to quit) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1), for paragraph (b) substitute—
‘(b) it satisfies—
(i) subsection (1ZA), if it is given by a tenant in relation to premises let under an assured tenancy, or
(ii) subsection (1ZC) in any other case;
but in relation to landlords under assured tenancies see section 5(1) of the Housing Act 1988 (notice to quit by landlord is of no effect).’
(3) After subsection (1) insert—
‘(1ZA) A notice to quit satisfies this subsection if—
(a) it is given not less than—
(i) any length of time before the date on which the notice is to take effect, not exceeding two months, that the landlord has agreed to in writing, or
(ii) in the absence of agreement under sub-paragraph (i), two months before the date on which the notice is to take effect, and
(b) it is in relation to premises let under a repeat tenancy or, if it is in relation to premises let under any other assured tenancy, it is to take effect—
(i) no earlier than any time, within the period of six months beginning with the day on which the terms of the tenancy provide for the tenancy to begin, that the landlord has agreed to in writing, or
(ii) in the absence of agreement under sub-paragraph (i), on or after the last day of the period mentioned in that sub-paragraph.
(1ZB) In subsection (1ZA)(b) “repeat tenancy” means an assured tenancy under which the tenant becomes entitled to possession of the premises within the period of one month beginning with the day after the last day of a previous assured tenancy—
(a) under which the same premises were let, and
(b) which was between the same parties.
(1ZC) A notice to quit satisfies this subsection if it is given not less than four weeks before the date on which it is to take effect.’”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause provides that a tenant’s notice to quit an assured tenancy is not valid if it would take effect in the first six months of the tenancy, unless the landlord agreed in writing to it taking effect earlier or the tenancy follows one that ended within the previous month, relating to the same property and parties. It also contains the substance of existing clause 17.
Brought up, and read the First time.
14:11
Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new clause 30—Assessment of operation of possession process.

Government new clause 13— Sections 1 and 2: effect of superior leases.

Government new clause 14—Powers of Secretary of State in connection with Chapter 1.

Government new clause 16—Power of Welsh Ministers to extend protection to persons of other descriptions.

Government new clause 17—Power of Secretary of State to extend protection to persons of other descriptions: Wales.

Government new clause 18—Prohibition of discrimination relating to children or benefits status: Scotland.

Government new clause 19—Terms in standard securities relating to children or benefits status: Scotland.

Government new clause 20—Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland.

Government new clause 21—Power of the Scottish Ministers to extend protection to persons of other descriptions.

Government new clause 22—Interpretation of Chapter 4A.

Government new clause 23—Power of Scottish Ministers to make consequential provision.

Government new clause 24—Power of Secretary of State to extend protection to persons of other descriptions: Scotland.

Government new clause 25—Landlord redress schemes: no Crown status.

Government new clause 26—Other amendments in connection with landlord redress schemes.

Government new clause 27—Commencement.

Government new clause 28—Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1.

Government new clause 29—Assured agricultural occupancies: opting out etc.

Government new clause 31—Local Commissioners’ investigation of complaints by persons who are not tenants.

Government new clause 32—Unlicensed HMOs and houses: offences.

Government new clause 33—Service of improvement notices on landlords and licensors.

Government new clause 34—Rent repayment orders: liability of directors etc.

Government new clause 35—Report on certain matters relating to tenancy reform.

Government new clause 36—Report on provision of residential tenancies.

New clause 1—Repeal of requirement for selective licensing

“Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 (Selective licensing of other residential accommodation) is repealed.”

This new clause would remove the ability of local housing authorities to designate areas as subject to selective licensing.

New clause 2—Expanding the remit of rent repayment orders to company directors

“In section 249A of the Housing Act 2004, after subsection (1) insert—

‘(1A) If a local housing authority believes that a relevant housing offence has been committed by a body corporate, it may impose a financial penalty on—

(a) a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or

(b) a person purporting to act in such a capacity,

if it is satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the offence was committed with the consent or connivance of that person, or that the offence was attributable to any neglect on the part of that person.’”

This new clause would enable local housing authorities to impose financial penalties on certain individuals when it believes a housing offence has been committed by a body corporate.

New clause 3—Evidence to consider when granting possession order for anti-social behaviour

“In section 9A of the 1988 Act, after subsection (2) insert—

‘(3) In considering evidence of conduct the court may consider evidence provided by way of hearsay and that evidence will be admissible without notice or permission of the court notwithstanding any rule of the court or the common law.’”

This new clause would enable courts to consider hearsay evidence during the course of proceedings for possession on the grounds of anti-social behaviour.

New clause 5—Review of changes to grounds for possession

“(1) The Secretary of State must, within two years of the date of Royal Assent to this Act, conduct and lay before Parliament a review of the grounds for possession in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988, as amended by this Act.

(2) The review must include—

(a) an assessment of the effectiveness of the new or amended grounds for possession set out in Schedule 1 of this Act in securing evictions from properties;

(b) an assessment of the impact on the security of tenure of tenants as a result of the use of the new or amended grounds for possession set out in Schedule 1 of this Act;

(c) a report on the use of enforcement action in relation to the new or amended grounds for possession set out in Schedule 1 of this Act;

(d) an assessment of the effectiveness of the grounds for possession listed in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 in securing evictions from properties that remain unamended by Schedule 1 of this Act.

(3) The review under subsection (1) must make such recommendations as, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, are necessary in the light of the findings of the review.”

This new clause would require the Government to publish a review of the impact of the amended grounds for possession within two years of the Act coming into force.

New clause 6—Requirement to state the amount of rent when advertising residential premises—

“(1) A landlord must not advertise or otherwise offer a tenancy of residential premises unless the amount of rent is stated in the advertisement or offer.

(2) A letting agent acting on behalf of a landlord must not advertise or otherwise offer a tenancy of residential premises unless the amount of rent is stated in the advertisement or offer.”

This new clause would require landlords or persons acting on their behalf to state the proposed rent payable in the advertisement for the premises.

New clause 7—Not inviting or encouraging bids for rent—

“(1) A landlord must not invite or encourage a prospective tenant or any other person to offer to pay an amount of rent for residential premises that exceeds the amount of rent stated as part of the advertisement or offer of the premises as required by section [requirement to state the amount of rent when advertising residential premises].

(2) A letting agent acting on behalf of a landlord must not invite or encourage a prospective tenant or any other person to offer to pay an amount of rent for residential premises that exceeds the amount of rent stated as part of the advertisement or offer of the premises as required by section [requirement to state the amount of rent when advertising residential premises].

(3) Subsection (1) does not prohibit a prospective tenant or other person from offering to pay an amount that exceeds the stated amount of rent.”

This new clause would prevent landlords or persons acting on their behalf from inviting or encouraging bids that exceed the amount stated as part of the advertisement or offer of the premises.

New clause 8—Limit on amount of rent that a residential landlord can request in advance—

“In Schedule 1 to the Tenant Fees Act 2019, after paragraph 1(8) insert—

‘(9) Where rent is payable in advance, the maximum that may be charged is equivalent to the amount specified in paragraph 2(3).’”

This new clause would ensure that the maximum amount of rent that could be lawfully requested by a residential landlord in advance of a tenancy commencing would be 5 weeks’ rent for tenancies of less than £50,000 per annum and to 6 weeks’ rent for tenancies over £50,000 per annum.

New clause 10—Extension of Awaab’s law to the private rented sector—

“(1) Section 10A of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is amended as follows.

(2) Omit subsections (1)(b) and (6).

(3) In subsection (7), omit the definitions of ‘low-cost home ownership accommodation’ and ‘social housing.’”

This new clause would require private landlords to deal with hazards affecting their properties.

New clause 11—Ending blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits—

“The Secretary of State may, by regulation, specify behaviour which, for the purposes of Part 4, Equality Act 2010, shall be considered unlawful discrimination unless the contrary is shown.”

This new clause would ensure that blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits are presumed to be unlawful discrimination unless proved otherwise.

New clause 12—Discrimination relating to care-leaver status—

“(1) The provisions of this section apply to individuals who are—

(a) a relevant child as defined by section 23A of the Children’s Act 1989; or

(b) a former relevant child as defined by section 23C of the Children’s Act 1989.

(2) A relevant person must not, in relation to a dwelling that is to be let on a relevant tenancy—

(a) on the basis that the individual meets either of the criteria set out in subsection (1), prevent the person from—

(i) enquiring whether the dwelling is available for let,

(ii) accessing information about the dwelling,

(iii) viewing the dwelling in order to consider whether to seek to rent it,

(iv) entering into a tenancy of the dwelling, or

(b) apply a provision, criterion or practice in order to make care leavers less likely to enter into a tenancy of the dwelling than people who are not care leavers.

(3) Subsection (2) does not apply if the relevant person can show that the prospective landlord of the dwelling, or a person who would be a superior landlord in relation to the dwelling, is insured under a contract of insurance—

(a) to which section 33 does not apply, and

(b) which contains a term which makes provision (however expressed) requiring the insured to prohibit a tenant under a relevant tenancy from being a care-leaver,

and the conduct is a means of preventing the prospective landlord from breaching that term.

(4) Conduct does not breach the prohibition in subsection (2) if it consists only of—

(a) one or more of the following things done by a person who does nothing in relation to the dwelling that is not mentioned in this paragraph—

(i) publishing advertisements or disseminating information;

(ii) providing a means by which a prospective landlord can communicate directly with a prospective tenant;

(iii) providing a means by which a prospective tenant can communicate directly with a prospective landlord, or

(b) things of a description, or things done by a person of a description, specified for the purposes of this section in regulations made by the Secretary of State.”

New clause 37—Extension of rent repayment orders—

“(1) In Section 40(3) of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, at end of table insert—

8

Housing Act 1988

Section 16D, 16E

Duties on landlords and agents as regards information provision and prohibition on reletting

9

Renters (Reform) Act 2024

Sections 48

Landlord redress provisions

10

Renters (Reform) Act 2024

Section 69

Active landlord database entry”.



This new clause would ensure that rent repayment orders can be made to the landlord under the relevant tenancy in any instance where a financial penalty or offence is made relating to clauses 11, 12, 48 or 69 of the Bill.

New clause 38—Continuing ability of tenants to sublet—

“(1) In any lease of residential property which is not by virtue of this Act an assured tenancy—

(a) any provision which restricts subletting to assured shorthold tenancies shall be interpreted to refer to assured tenancies; and

(b) any provision which would make the grant of an assured tenancy a breach of that provision shall be void unless—

(i) that provision is an absolute prohibition against subletting; or

(ii) the lease has less than seven years unexpired.

(2) Any provision which requires the consent of a landlord or other person to the grant of a subtenancy shall be interpreted so that consent may not be refused on the grounds that the subtenancy is an assured tenancy or on the grounds of any statutory provision of that tenancy.”

This new clause seeks to ensure that persons who are tenants under a long lease can continue to sublet residential premises in circumstances where they were previously permitted to do so under the long lease on the basis that the sublease was an assured shorthold tenancy.

New clause 39—Payment of relocation payment to tenant—

“In the Housing Act 1988, after section 11 insert—

‘11A Payment of relocation payment in certain cases

(1) Where a landlord issues a notice of proceedings for possession of a dwelling-house on any of the grounds in Schedule 2 to this Act (except Ground 7A or Ground 14) within two years of the start of the tenancy, the landlord shall pay a relocation payment to the tenant.

(2) A relocation payment shall be an amount equivalent to—

(a) one month’s rent in the case of an order for possession on Ground 1 or Ground 1A;

(b) two months’ rent in the case of an order for possession on any other ground.

(3) The relocation payment shall be made no less than two weeks before the date specified in the notice of proceedings for possession.’”

This new clause would require landlords to pay a “relocation payment” to tenants when evicting them from their property within two years of the start of the tenancy, except on the grounds of crime and antisocial behaviour.

New clause 40—Guarantor to have no further liability following death of tenant—

“(1) Subject to subsection (3), a guarantee agreement relating to a relevant tenancy ceases to have effect upon the death of a relevant tenant.

(2) Upon the death of a relevant tenant the guarantor in respect of a relevant tenancy shall incur no further liability in relation to matters arising under the tenancy.

(3) Nothing in this section shall affect the liability of a guarantor in relation to matters which arose before the date of the death of the relevant tenant.

(4) In assessing any liability under subsection (3), account shall be taken of any tenancy deposit paid in respect of the tenancy.

(5) Where there is more than one relevant tenant, this section shall apply only upon the death of both or all of the tenants.

(6) In this section—

‘guarantor’ means a person who enters into a guarantee agreement in relation to a relevant tenancy;

‘guarantee agreement’ means a contractual promise (whether incorporated in or separate from the tenancy agreement) to indemnify or compensate a relevant person in respect of an obligation under the tenancy if the tenant fails to perform or comply with the obligation;

‘relevant tenancy’ has the same meaning as in section 36, and ‘relevant tenant’ is to be interpreted accordingly;

‘tenancy deposit’ has the same meaning as in section 212(8) of the Housing Act 2004.”

This new clause would mean that guarantors in relation to a tenancy have no liability for future matters arising from the tenancy after the tenant has died.

New clause 41—Prohibition of requirement for rent guarantors—

“(1) A relevant person may not, in relation to a dwelling that is to be let on a relevant tenancy—

(a) require the provision of a rental guarantor or an equivalent upfront payment;

(b) let the relevant tenancy on the basis of being offered a rental guarantor or an equivalent payment by a prospective tenant.

(2) For the purposes of this section, ‘relevant person’ and ‘relevant tenancy’ have the meanings given in section 36 of this Act.”

This new clause would prohibit landlords from requiring prospective tenants to provide rent guarantors or equivalent upfront payments, and prohibit them from prioritising prospective tenants who offer them over those who do not.

Government amendments 200 to 205 and 57.

Amendment 14, in clause 3, page 3, leave out lines 21 to 23 and insert—

“1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2ZA, 2ZB, 4A, 6, 6A

four months beginning with the date of service of the notice

5, 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D, 7, 9

two months beginning with the date of service of the notice”.



Government amendments 56, 58 and 59.

Amendment 15, page 3, line 33, at end insert—

“(4) The Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a review of the changes to grounds for possession made under this Act within two years of the date of Royal Assent.”

Government amendment 206.

Amendment 21, in clause 6, page 7, line 4, at end insert—

“13B Recovery of rent

(1) Any increased rent which is paid otherwise than in accordance with section 13 or section 13A is recoverable from the landlord by the tenant as a debt claim in the courts.

(2) The Secretary of State may, by regulations, provide for such claims to be recoverable by proceedings in the First-Tier Tribunal, rather than the courts.”

This amendment would ensure that in instances where a private landlord increases the rent without issuing a section 13 or section 13A notice the tenant can seek to recover costs through a debt claim in the court. It also provides the government with the power by regulation for such claims to be recoverable by tribunal.

Government amendment 207.

Amendment 261, in clause 7, page 8, line 2, at end insert—

“(c) in paragraph (c), at end insert—

‘and,

(d) that it was financed or part-financed by a means-tested grant’.”

This amendment will prevent rents from being increased by a tribunal as a consequence of improvements to properties that have been financed or part-financed by a means-tested grant.

Amendment 22, page 8, line 9, at end insert—

“(7A) After subsection (8) insert—

‘(8A) Where a notice under section 13(2) has been referred to the appropriate tribunal then, unless the landlord and the tenant otherwise agree, the rent determined by the appropriate tribunal (subject, in a case where subsection (5) above applies, to the addition of the appropriate amount in respect of rates) shall be the same or below the rent specified in the section 13 notice and the rent as determined by the tribunal shall only become payable once the decision of the tribunal has become final.

(8B) A decision becomes final only on the latest of—

(a) the determination of any appeal;

(b) if earlier, on the expiry of the time for bringing a subsequent appeal (if any); or

(c) by its being abandoned or otherwise ceasing to have effect.’”

This amendment would ensure that where a rent assessment is carried out by a tribunal, the rent subsequently determined by that tribunal cannot be higher than that originally requested by a landlord in a section 13 notice.

Amendment 13, page 8, line 20, at end insert—

“(c) no more than the rent proposed by the landlord in the notice served on the tenant under section 13 of the 1988 Act.”

This amendment would mean that the rent payable after a tribunal determination can be no higher than the rent initially proposed by the landlord in the notice served on the tenant.

Amendment 23, page 9, line 5, at end insert

“which must be no earlier than two months following the date of determination”.

This amendment would ensure that in cases of undue hardship tenants would have a minimum of two months from the date of determination before a new rent became payable.

Amendment 24, page 9, line 6, leave out subsection (4) and insert—

“(4A) A date specified under subsection (3)(b) must be no earlier than the date on which the determination becomes final, with a decision only becoming final on the latest of—

(a) the determination of any appeal;

(b) if earlier, on the expiry of the time for bringing a subsequent appeal (if any); or

(c) by its being abandoned or otherwise ceasing to have effect.”

This amendment would remove the requirement for a date determined by a court for rent to become payable in cases of undue hardship to not be later than the date of the determination.

Amendment 31, in clause 9, page 9, line 29, leave out “42nd” and insert “28th”.

This amendment would ensure a landlord gives or refuses consent in writing within 28 days of the request being made.

Amendment 32, page 9, line 30, at and insert—

“(d) the landlord may not review or withdraw consent once given.”

This amendment ensures that a tenant may keep a pet for the duration of their tenancy once consent has been given.

Government amendments 60, 208, 61, 209, 63, 210, 62 and 211.

Amendment 38, in clause 12, page 14, line 18, at end insert—

“(g) unreasonably refuse home adaptations for the purposes of a disabled person's access to or usage of the home.”

Amendment 11, page 14, line 21, after “dwelling-house” insert

“or the short-term let or holiday let”.

This amendment would clarify that a landlord cannot let a property as a short-term or holiday let for at least three months after taking ownership of the property for the purposes of them or their family occupying it.

Government amendment 64.

Amendment 1, page 14, line 26, after “dwelling-house” insert

“or the short-term let or holiday let”.

This amendment would clarify that a landlord cannot let a property as a short-term or holiday let for at least three months after taking ownership of the property for the purposes of them or their family occupying it.

Government amendment 65.

Amendment 2, page 14, line 28, after “dwelling-house” insert

“or the short-term let or holiday let”.

This amendment would clarify that a landlord cannot let a property as a short-term or holiday let for at least three months after taking ownership of the property for the purposes of them or their family occupying it.

Government amendments 66, 67 and 212.

Amendment 3, page 15, line 15, leave out “three” and insert “six”.

This amendment would increase the time which must elapse between a landlord taking ownership of a property for the purposes of them or their family occupying it and making the property available to rent from three months to six months.

Amendment 35, page 15, line 15, leave out “three” and insert “twelve”.

This amendment would extend the restricted period in relation to a tenancy in relation to which Ground 1 or 1A in Schedule 2 is relied on from three to twelve months.

Amendment 36, page 15, line 17, leave out subsection (b).

This amendment would ensure that the restricted period is as specified in (8)(a) in all circumstances.

Government amendments 68 to 75, 213, 214, 195, 215 to 217 and 76.

Amendment 6, in clause 17, page 25, line 18, after “given” insert

“not earlier than four months after a tenant first occupies the premises and”.

This amendment would mean that tenants cannot give notice to quit until they have resided in the property for at least four months.

Government amendments 77 to 80, 218 to 220 and 81 to 85.

Amendment 43, in clause 29, page 32, line 23, leave out “section 27 or 28” and insert

“sections 27, 28 or [Discrimination relating to care-leaver status]”.

Amendment 44, in clause 30, page 34, line 21, at end insert—

“(5) A term of a relevant tenancy or regulated tenancy is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed) prohibiting the tenant from being—

(a) a relevant child as defined by section 23A of the Children’s Act 1989; or

(b) a former relevant child as defined by section 23C of the Children’s Act 1989.

(6) Subsection (5) does not apply if the landlord or a superior landlord is insured under a contract of insurance—

(a) to which section 33 does not apply, and

(b) which contains a term which makes provision (however expressed) requiring the insured to prohibit the tenant from being a relevant or former relevant child.

and the provision in the tenancy is a means of preventing the insured from breaching that term.”

Amendment 45, in clause 31, page 35, line 12, at end insert—

“(4A) A term of a lease of premises that consist of or include a dwelling is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed) requiring a tenant under that or any inferior lease to prohibit a sub-tenant under a relevant tenancy or regulated tenancy from prohibiting the tenant from being—

(a) a relevant child as defined by section 23A of the Children’s Act 1989; or

(b) a former relevant child as defined by section 23C of the Children’s Act 1989.

(4B) Subsection (4A) does not apply if the landlord under the lease or a superior landlord is insured under a contract of insurance—

(a) to which section 33 does not apply, and

(b) which contains a term which makes provision (however expressed) requiring the insured to prohibit a sub-tenant from being a relevant or former relevant child.

and the provision in the lease is a means of preventing the insured from breaching that term.”

Amendment 46, in clause 32, page 35, line 30, at end insert—

“(3) A term of a mortgage of premises that consist of or include a dwelling is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed) requiring a mortgagor to prohibit a tenant under a relevant tenancy or regulated tenancy from being—

(a) a relevant child as defined by section 23A of the Children’s Act 1989; or

(b) a former relevant child as defined by section 23C of the Children’s Act 1989.”

Amendment 47, in clause 33, page 36, line 2, at end insert—

“(2A) A term of a contract of insurance to which this section applies is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed) requiring the insured to prohibit a tenant under a relevant tenancy or regulated tenancy from being—

(a) a relevant child as defined by section 23A of the Children’s Act 1989; or

(b) a former relevant child as defined by section 23C of the Children’s Act 1989.”

Government amendments 86 to 113, 115 and 116.

Government motion to transfer clause 40.

Government amendment 117 and 118.

Amendment 39, in clause 42, page 54, line 1, after “section 1” insert—

“(a) omit subsection (3);

(b) in subsection (3A) omit ‘the landlord of a residential occupier or an agent of the landlord’ and insert ‘a person’;

(c) after subsection (3B) insert—

‘(3BA) For the purposes of this subsection, services which are reasonably required for the occupation of the premises as a household include, but are not limited to—

(a) water,

(b) gas,

(c) electricity, and

(d) electronic communications networks and services’;

(d) omit subsection (3C);

(e)”.

This amendment would amend the offence of unlawful eviction and harassment of the occupier of a property under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 so that the offence can be committed by any person (not just the landlord of their agent), and define the services with which interference can constitute an offence.

Amendment 40, page 55, line 2, at end insert—

“(3A) In section 3A, after subsection (9) insert—

‘(10) In any proceedings under any of the relevant statutory provisions in this Act, it shall be for the accused to prove that the tenancy or licence is excluded by virtue of subsections (2) or (3) above.’

(3B) After section 4 insert—

‘4A Rebuttable presumption of landlord

(1) In any action under Part 1 of this Act (including where a Financial Penalty Notice (FPN) is issued) there is a rebuttable presumption that the person to whom the residential occupier pays rent or other payments in respect of occupation of a dwelling is the landlord of the property.’

(3C) After section 7 insert—

‘7A Notification by the police

(1) Where a constable has reasonable cause to believe that an offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 has occurred the constable must within 24 hours notify the authority named in section 6 as responsible for prosecution of offences in the area with the following information—

(a) the address where the alleged offence has happened;

(b) if known, the name of the landlord;

(c) if known, the name of the residential occupier;

(d) any facts known to the constable about the alleged offence.

(2) A police force has the power to assist an authority included in section 6 in the exercise of their functions under this Act.’”

This amendment would amend proceedings for offences under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, so that it must be proved that a tenancy is an excluded tenancy, that there is a rebuttable presumption that the person to whom a tenant paid their rent is the landlord, and that the police must inform the relevant local authority when they suspect offences under the 1977 Act to have been committed.

Government amendments 119 to 121.

Amendment 4, in clause 45, page 59, line 36, after “landlord” insert

“who is not otherwise a member of an independent redress scheme approved by the Secretary of State.”

This amendment would only require a residential landlord to be a member of the landlord redress scheme introduced by Clause 45 if they are not already a member of another independent redress scheme which has been approved by the Secretary of State.

Government amendments 122 to 134.

Amendment 27, in clause 53, page 67, line 18, at end insert—

“(ba) details, which may include copies, of all notices seeking possession served by the residential landlord in respect of each dwelling of which he is the landlord, and”.

This amendment would require the database to record details of notices of possession served by a landlord in respect of each dwelling of which they are the landlord.

Amendment 42, in clause 55, page 68, line 27, at end insert—

“(ba) require the provision of information about the accessibility of the dwelling,”.

Amendment 12, page 68, line 33, at end insert—

“(2A) Regulations under subsection (1) must require—

(a) the energy performance certificate relating to a registrable dwelling to be provided to the database operator; and

(b) details of the energy performance certificate to be recorded in a dwelling entry in the database.”

This amendment would require Energy Performance Certificates in relation to relevant dwellings to be provided to the database operator and details to be recorded in the database.

Government amendments 135 to 137.

Amendment 37, in clause 76, page 84, line 34, at end insert—

“(e) any accommodation which is provided by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation to service individuals and families.”

This amendment would ensure that accommodation rented from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation by service individuals and families is subject to the Decent Homes Standard.

Amendment 7, page 85, line 26, leave out clause 78.

Amendment 41, in clause 78, page 86, line 4, after “(order),” insert—

“(a) in subsection (1), before ‘The First-tier Tribunal’ insert ‘Apart from offences for which subsection (1A) applies,’;

(b) after subsection (1) insert—

‘(1A) The First-tier Tribunal may make a rent repayment order if satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the landlord has committed an offence under section 1(2), (3) or (3A) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 (whether or not the landlord has been convicted).’;

(c) at the end of subsection (3) insert—

‘(d) section 46A (where an order is made against more than one landlord or there has been a previous order)’;

(d)”.

This amendment would lower the level of proof required in proceedings for a Rent Repayment Order in the First-tier Tribunal to the balance of probabilities for offences under the 1977 Act.

Government amendments 196, 138 and 139, 197, 140 to 144, 221, 145 and 146, 222 and 147 to 151.

Amendment 8, in clause 116, page 111, line 19, leave out “subsection (2)” and insert “subsections (1A) and (2)”.

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 9.

Amendment 28, page 111, line 19, at end insert

“, save that section 2(b) comes into force on the day on which this Act is passed only to the extent that it repeals section 21 of the Housing Act 1988; such repeal will not affect the validity of any notices served under that provision on or before the day on which this Act is passed and the provisions of that section will continue to apply to any claims issued in respect of such a notice”.

This amendment would ensure that the abolition of section 21 evictions would come into force on Royal Assent, with saving provisions for any notices served before that date.

Amendment 9, page 111, line 19, at end insert—

“(1A) Prior to laying regulations under subsection (1) the Secretary of State must commission and publish a review into the operation of residential possession proceedings in the County Courts used by residential landlords and tenants and the enforcement of possession orders.”

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to publish a review of the operation of residential possession proceedings before determining the commencement date for the provisions of Chapter 1 of Part 1.

Government amendments 152 to 157.

Government new schedule 1—Amendments in connection with landlord redress schemes.

Government amendment 223.

Amendment 48, in schedule 1, page 114, line 10, leave out “6 months” and insert “one year”.

Amendment 255, page 114, line 10, leave out “6 months” and insert “2 years”.

Amendments 255 and 256 would prohibit evictions under grounds 1 and 1A within two years of the beginning of a tenancy.

Government amendment 224.

Amendment 49, page 115, line 8, leave out “6 months” and insert “one year”.

Amendment 256, page 115, line 8, leave out “6 months” and insert “2 years”.

Amendments 255 and 256 would prohibit evictions under grounds 1 and 1A within two years of the beginning of a tenancy.

Government amendment 225.

Amendment 33, page 115, line 32, leave out sub-paragraph (a) and insert—

“(a) the landlord who is seeking possession intends to—

(i) sell a freehold or leasehold interest in the dwelling-house or to grant a lease of the dwelling-house for a term certain of more than 21 years which is not terminable before the end of that term by notice given by or to the landlord;

(ii) re-let the dwelling house to another tenant pursuant to a Rent to Buy Agreement; or

(iii) retain and convert the home to rented housing on either an affordable or market rent basis;”.

This amendment covers the full scope of reasons that private registered providers of social housing may wish to use the new ground for possession 1B for to offer properties to another tenant.

Government amendment 158.

Amendment 34, page 116, line 12, leave out sub-paragraph (b) and insert—

“(b) allows the tenant to rent the dwelling house for a period stated in the agreement, which is not less than 5 years or, for dwelling houses in Greater London, 10 years from the beginning of the tenancy so as to enable the tenant to save for a deposit and, over time, purchase their first home.”

This amendment would ensure the wording for the definition of “Rent to Buy Agreement” at sub-paragraph (b) is an accurate reflection of the Rent to Buy product and is in line with the Capital Funding Guide.

Amendment 29, page 116, line 29, after “tenancy” insert

“(including any tenancy at will or other tenancy arising on expiry of a fixed-term lease)”.

This amendment would extend Ground 2ZA to apply in a situation where a tenancy at will may arise.

Government amendments 159 and 160.

Amendment 30, page 117, line 5, at end insert—

“(c) where the intermediate landlord serves notice under this Ground, the intermediate landlord shall be deemed to continue to hold sufficient interest in the dwelling-house to maintain a continuing right to possession until conclusion of any possession proceedings.”

This amendment would ensure that an intermediate landlord retains possession of the property and remains as the landlord of the occupying tenant until the conclusion of possession proceedings.

Government amendments 161, 163 and 164, and 226.

Amendment 5, page 118, line 4, after “HMO” insert

“or is occupied by one or two students”.

This amendment would mean that the ground for possession for student properties could also be used for properties occupied by just one or two students, which would not otherwise be considered as HMOs.

Government amendments 227 to 229.

Amendment 260, page 118, line 12, at end insert—

“(ca) the tenancy agreement was not signed earlier than March of the year in which the tenancy commenced.”

This amendment would end the pressure for joint tenancies to be signed too early in the academic year, committing students to accommodation before they are ready.

Government amendments 165 to 174, 230, 175 and 231 to 234.

Amendment 52, page 122, line 34, leave out “of an intention” and insert—

“that the landlord may intend”.

Amendment 53, page 122, line 35, at end insert—

“or the Court is of the opinion that it is just and equitable to dispose of the requirement to serve a written statement.”

Amendment 50, page 123, line 3, leave out lines 3 to 9.

Amendment 51, page 125, line 13, at end insert—

“Ground 6AA

A relevant social landlord granted a tenancy of the dwelling house to the tenant as temporary decant accommodation in order to demolish their original home in the context of re-development and the landlord seeking possession requires vacant possession of the dwelling house because—

(a) the landlord has served the tenant with notice that the new home is ready to move into, or

(b) the temporary use of the accommodation has otherwise come to an end.”

Amendment 16, page 125, leave out line 17.

This amendment would retain the existing 12-month period within which the landlord can initiate proceedings on this ground for possession.

Amendment 55, page 125, line 17, at end insert—

“(ab) At the end of the second unnumbered paragraph, insert—

‘This ground applies only where the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing.’”

Amendment 17, page 125, line 18, at end insert—

“(c) at the end of the last unnumbered paragraph insert—

‘This ground applies only where the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing.’”

This amendment would limit the use of Ground 7 of Schedule 2 of the 1988 Act to social rented housing.

Amendment 18, page 125, line 30, leave out paragraph 23.

This amendment would remove the new ground for possession for repeated rent arrears.

Amendment 19, page 125, line 30, leave out “After Ground 8” and insert “Before Ground 9”.

This amendment would move new Ground 8A from the list of mandatory grounds for possession (in Part I of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988) to the list of discretionary grounds for possession (in Part II of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988).

Amendment 257, page 126, line 12, at end insert—

“23A In Ground 12, after ‘performed’ insert ‘provided that failure to carry out this obligation could—

(a) be reasonably expected to have a material adverse effect on the safety, health, or lives of any residents in that property or adjoining property; or

(b) cause material damage to the property not contemplated in any form of property safety deposit scheme relating to the tenancy.’”

This amendment would amend Ground 12 (possession due to failure to carry out an obligation of the tenancy) so that a tenant cannot be evicted if the obligation does not pose serious risk to the wellbeing of the tenants or the property (such as putting a poster in a window or putting washing on display).

Amendment 20, page 126, line 14, leave out paragraph 24.

This amendment would maintain the existing definition of anti-social behaviour as being conduct causing or likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance, rather than being defined as behaviour “capable of causing” nuisance or annoyance.

Government amendments 235 and 236, 176 and 177, 237, 178 to 181, 238, 182 to 184, 245, 258, 246 and 247, 198 and 248 to 253.

Amendment 25, in schedule 2, page 128, line 29, leave out “omit subsection (5)” and insert

“for subsection (5) substitute—

(5) A person is also threatened with homelessness if—

(a) a valid notice has been given to the person under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 in respect of the only accommodation the person has that is available for the person’s occupation, and

(b) that notice will expire within 56 days.”

This amendment would maintain the homelessness prevention duty owed by local authorities to persons who have received a notice to vacate a property and would extend it to notices for possession issued under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.

Government amendment 239.

Amendment 26, page 129, line 1, leave out “omit subsection (6)” and insert

“for subsection (6) substitute—

(6) But the authority may not give notice to the applicant under subsection (5) on the basis that the circumstances in subsection (8)(b) apply if a valid notice has been given to the applicant under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 that—

(a) will expire within 56 days or has expired, and

(b) is in respect of the only accommodation that is available for the applicant’s occupation.”

This amendment would ensure that the homelessness prevention duty owed by a local authority cannot end whilst a valid notice under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 has been issued in respect of the only accommodation available to that person.

Government amendments 240, 254, 259, 185, 241, 186, 242, 187, 199, 243, 188 to 192, 244 and 194.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
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I am delighted to bring the Renters (Reform) Bill back to the House on Report. I express my gratitude to Members across the House for their contributions on Second Reading and in Committee, and for their continued engagement throughout. I thank my predecessors, my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes), whose Parliamentary Private Secretary I had the privilege of being as he steered the White Paper, and my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch (Rachel Maclean), whose Whip I had the privilege of being as she steered the Bill on Second Reading. I have seen the Bill at every stage of its formation, and I can say to the House that the Bill we are discussing today would not have been possible without their hard work and dedication. I also pay tribute to the hon. Members for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook) and for North Shropshire (Helen Morgan) for their constructive engagement and commitment to seeing the Bill delivered, so that its benefits can be realised.

The Bill will create a fairer private rented sector for both landlords and tenants, delivering on the Government’s 2019 manifesto commitment. The Bill brings in the most significant reforms for the sector in over 30 years. It will abolish section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and bring in new decency standards, giving England’s 11 million tenants more certainty of secure and healthy homes. It will mean that tenants will be supported to hold down jobs in their local area, children to stay in the same school, and households to put down roots in their communities. Alongside abolishing section 21, we are strengthening and expanding landlord possession grounds, including stronger protections against antisocial behaviour. Combined with our reforms to ensure a modern court system, that will ensure that landlords retain confidence in getting back their properties when they need to, safeguarding their investment.

The new private rented sector ombudsman will resolve tenants’ disputes and support landlords in handling complaints effectively. That will help to avoid disagreements escalating unnecessarily to the courts, saving both landlords and tenants time and money. Our new property portal will make landlords’ responsibilities clear in one place and support tenants to make more informed choices. We are also providing stronger protections for renters with pets, recognising the joy that pets can bring. However, the Bill must strike a balance between delivering that security for tenants and fairness to landlords.

Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green)
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This morning, the Secretary of State had the brass neck to suggest that to keep his promise to outlaw no-fault evictions before the next election it is now down to the House of Lords to get on with it. Will the Minister tell us which is more disingenuous: the five years we have been waiting for the Government to keep their promise, or the blatant concessions to the significant numbers of Conservative MPs who are landlords, who have been gifted what amounts to an indefinite delay to the ban on no-fault evictions?

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
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As I said, we introduced the White Paper in 2022. We published the Bill just last year in 2023, and we are taking it forward today to abolish section 21. She talks about Conservative Members. I can tell her—she will not read this in the newspapers—that I have been lobbied by Members on both sides of this House to ensure that the reforms work effectively. That is what the changes that we are making today on Report will do. They will bring balance to the Bill, delivering security for tenants and, as I said, fairness to landlords. The amendments will ensure that the new tenancy system works effectively.

Feryal Clark Portrait Feryal Clark (Enfield North) (Lab)
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Since the Government promised to outlaw section 21 evictions in 2019, more than 2,000 people in Enfield have been subject to no-fault evictions, costing the council millions of pounds to rehouse them. The Minister talks about fairness to landlords, but does he recognise the cost to renters, and indeed to local authorities through temporary accommodation?

14:16
Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I absolutely accept that there is a cost. What I would say is that a system that does not work for landlords will not benefit tenants, and a system that does not benefit tenants will not benefit landlords in the long run either. We have to find a balance in the Bill. That is what our amendments will deliver. The amendments we introduced in Committee include expanding the range of factors that a judge must consider when evicting antisocial tenants, providing stronger protections for landlords and neighbourhoods against unacceptable behaviour. We also added a new ground for possession to protect the functioning of the student market and ensure that students’ landlords can continue to evict in line with the academic year.

Turning to housing quality, although the vast majority of landlords provide warm and decent homes, some fall short of that standard. It is unacceptable for any tenant to live in damp, cold or dangerous housing. For that reason, we introduced measures in Committee to apply and enforce a decent homes standard in the private rented sector for the first time. That new standard, which we are designing with landlord and tenant groups, will be set out in secondary legislation. We also introduced measures to outlaw deeply unfair blanket bans on renting to those with children or those in receipt of benefits in England and Wales. Those practices have no place in a fair and modern housing market.

Clive Betts Portrait Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab)
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Will the Minister assure us that proper energy efficiency standards will be contained in the decent homes standard? Otherwise, tenants will still be living in damp and cold homes because they will be unable to afford to heat them.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I commit to working with the Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, and indeed with all Members of the House, to ensure that the decent homes standard provides for decent homes of the kind that he describes.

This is the first time we have applied the decent homes standard to the private rented sector, and we have to get it right. In order to target the minority of unscrupulous landlords, in Committee we also gave stronger powers to local councils, and we strengthened rent repayment orders. That will help to ensure effective and proportionate enforcement of the new system.

Let me turn to the Government amendments that we have tabled on Report. They respond to concerns from Members, constituents, and tenant and landlord groups, ensuring security for tenants while giving confidence to good landlords and supporting the private rented market. Several Members from across the House have played a direct role in helping us to ensure that the Bill works as effectively as possible for all those who live and work in the private rented sector. I of course include in that my hon. Friends the Members for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall) and for Northampton South (Andrew Lewer) for their continued engagement and constructive dialogue on the measures in the Bill.

Karen Buck Portrait Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am listening to the Minister carefully. From his contribution, we would not think that there was any controversy at all about the position we have got to with the legislation. If everything is so wonderful, why have all the key housing charities and organisations in the field withdrawn their support for the Government?

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

They have not withdrawn their support. I accept their disappointment with some of the amendments tabled on Report, but they have also endorsed some of them, including one that I know is very close to the hon. Lady’s heart in relation to expanding the homelessness prevention duty, which has the support of organisations such as Crisis, the homelessness charity. We will continue to work with everyone across the sector to ensure that the Bill is effective when it goes to the other place.

Turning to the amendments, I will address them thematically, starting with our tenancy reform measures. Government new clause 15 will ensure that a tenant’s notice to quit cannot expire within the first six months of the tenancy unless the landlord has agreed that it can expire sooner, thus increasing the amount of time a tenant must remain in a property at the start of the tenancy from two to six months. The change ensures that landlords are able to recover the costs of replacing tenants and will prevent tenants from using PRS properties as short-term or holiday lets.

Once the six-month initial period of commitment has ended, the tenancy will continue as a normal periodic tenancy, so after the six-month period tenants will need to give only two months’ notice. That ensures that tenants will retain the flexibility to end tenancies when their circumstances change or when a landlord does not fulfil their responsibilities. This measure strikes the right balance between providing landlords with the confidence they need to operate within the PRS and ensuring a fairer, simpler tenancy system.

In addition, the Government are exploring potential exemptions to the rule, such as the death of a tenant, domestic abuse or significant hazards within the property. Today I met the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance to reaffirm our intention on the exemption and make clear that victims of domestic violence will be better protected by these reforms.

Government amendments 239 and 240, which I have just mentioned to the hon. Member for Westminster North (Ms Buck), will give tenants certainty that the homelessness prevention duty will be owed when a valid section 8 notice is served. I pay particular tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) for his contributions on this topic, ensuring that his landmark Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 continues to be effective. The prevention duty will apply where the date specified in the notice is within 56 days and the duty may not be ended simply because the 56 days has passed. This means that households can continue to receive support while the threat of homelessness remains. Mindful that that will broaden the scope of the prevention duty, we will carry out a new burdens assessment and provide funding for local authorities for any additional costs.

Alongside expanding the homelessness prevention duty, let me take this opportunity to restate our position on another important issue. The statutory homelessness code of guidance, which local authorities must have regard to, states that authorities should not consider it reasonable for a homeless applicant to remain in the property until a court issues a bailiff warrant or writ to enforce a possession order. We have heard anecdotal evidence that some local authorities are encouraging tenants on a blanket basis to remain in a property until the bailiffs are at the door. That is wrong. Doing so creates further delays in possession, penalises landlords, who have a legal right to their property, can be stressful for the tenant and, in the long run, is not beneficial for them at all. The guidance is clear on the importance of early prevention: authorities should contact landlords at an early stage to understand the circumstances of an eviction and establish what steps can be taken to prevent homelessness.

The Government are also working to ensure that families can move out of temporary accommodation and into stable accommodation, as well as reducing the need for temporary accommodation by preventing homelessness before it occurs in the first place. That is why we are investing more than £1.2 billion in the homelessness prevention grant over the next three years, including a £129 million top-up for the homelessness prevention grant for 2024-25, as part of an unprecedented £2.4 billion to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

It is expected, furthermore, that the £1.2 billion local housing fund will enable councils in England to obtain better-quality temporary accommodation for those owed a homelessness duty, providing a lasting affordable asset. It is expected to provide around 7,000 homes by 2026, to ease local homelessness pressures, reduce spending on unsuitable bed and breakfast accommodation and provide safe and sustainable housing for local communities.

Government amendments 64 to 75 extend the restrictions on re-letting and marketing a property following the use of the moving in and selling grounds to cover licences to occupy as well as tenancies. This will mean that landlords and people acting on their behalf, such as letting agents, will be prohibited from letting or marketing a property as a short-term or holiday let following the use of those grants. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Selaine Saxby) and the hon. Member for North Shropshire for raising this matter in Committee. The change closes a loophole in the no re-letting period and helps to ensure that the balance between long-term and shorter-term lets remains stable.

I turn now to Government amendments to the possession grant, starting with the student market—I know this is an issue close to the heart of my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Jane Hunt). As I have said, in Committee the Government introduced a new ground for evicting full-time students, to maintain a yearly churn of student housing. Since introducing that ground, we have heard concerns that the ground would not apply when students are living in smaller properties or in houses of multiple occupation on individual contracts.

Government amendments 226 to 228 expand the circumstances in which the student ground can be used. Landlords will be able to ensure that properties rented to students, whether they are living individually, in pairs or in larger shared housing, will be vacated in the summer, as long as all the tenants on the tenancy agreement are students. To protect tenants, we have strengthened the requirement for landlords to provide notice to the tenant at the outset of the tenancy that the ground may be used to evict them. Possession will not be possible using this ground unless written notice has been given by the landlord at the beginning of the tenancy.

Government amendment 158 will extend ground 1B to allow social landlords to re-let their property to a different tenant on rent-to-buy terms, protecting the supply of such properties. The grant will be available only after the sitting tenant’s discounted rent period has ended and they have been offered the chance to purchase the property. I thank the National Housing Federation for raising this issue.

Government amendments 175 and 184 insert a new possession ground 5H into schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988, which will allow private registered providers of social housing and charities to continue to operate schemes sometimes known as stepping-stone accommodation. We are keen to support those schemes, which help those who have struggled to access the private rented sector, and I am grateful to Centrepoint and the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, for drawing that point to my attention. I thank Andy Street for all he is doing to support such organisations.

Government amendments 198 and 199 and new clause 29 serve to replicate an existing mechanism that allows landlords of qualifying agricultural workers to provide assured shorthold tenancies rather than more secure assured agricultural occupancies. The amendment was the main ask of the Country Land and Business Association and is vital to maintaining the supply of homes for rural workers by protecting the status quo. It will ensure that opted-out agricultural occupancies under the old system will continue to be opted out when they transition to the new tenancy system.

Leaseholders have raised the issue that many leaseholder agreements restrict sub-letting on assured shorthold and fixed-term tenancies. Amendments including Government amendments 160 to 164 and new clause 13 will address that ask by ensuring that sub-leases made under those agreements can continue unabated under the new tenancy system and that new agreements can be made if they were previously permitted. We have drafted the provisions very carefully to ensure that superior landlords and leaseholders have corresponding rights and responsibilities, as they did under the previous system.

Government new clauses 18 to 24 extend to Scotland the provisions outlawing blanket bans on letting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children, in consultation with the Scottish Government. They do so in a broadly similar way to those in England and Wales, with adjustments to align with the Scottish enforcement framework, demonstrating a cross-nation commitment to tackling discrimination in the private rented sector.

In part 2 of the Bill we have made technical amendments to our redress clauses, including ensuring that the PRS landlord ombudsman can co-operate with other dispute resolution services. The amendments will ensure that the ombudsman operates effectively. Although no final decision on the ombudsman provider has been made, our amendments would also allow the housing ombudsman service to effectively administer private landlord redress alongside social redress.

A key driver in having a single ombudsman to resolve private landlord-tenant disputes is making the service simple to use. I reiterate to hon. Members that the Government are absolutely committed to minimising costs and streamlining new requirements for landlords. Our ambition is that fees for the PRS landlord ombudsman will be low cost and will represent value for money for landlords, similar to those for the housing ombudsman, where membership costs for social landlords were just £5.75 per unit in 2023-24. I also reaffirm our commitment to aligning the ombudsman and property portal, with the ambition being that landlords will need to input their details only once in order to be compliant with both services.

Let me turn to enforcement of the new system. We introduced measures in Committee to ensure that all landlords involved in criminal rent-to-rent arrangements can be held to account, including superior landlords where they are aware of illegal activity. Government new clause 32 ensures that superior landlords are liable for the Housing Act 2004 offences of failing to hold the correct licence for a property. Government new clause 33 seeks to ensure that landlords and superior landlords can, where appropriate, be served with improvement notices requiring the removal of hazards. Those changes close loopholes, ensuring that local councils can continue to hold the correct landlord to account to ensure that their properties are safe and well managed.

14:30
Clearly, it is important that superior landlords who could not have reasonably known that the property was being let as a house of multiple occupation are protected against being penalised for the failure to license. Government new clause 32 provides additional defences to ensure that that is the case. Indeed, as is already the case, the criminal standard of proof would need to be met for any landlord to be convicted or subject to a fine or rent repayment order for such an offence.
Finally, I will talk through the measures that we are adding to the Bill to ensure that it is implemented effectively—again, I acknowledge the contributions of other Members, given voice by my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes—so that these reforms deliver for all and avoid unintended consequences. We have been clear that section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 will be abolished when we are confident that the county court system is ready, and we are taking significant steps to ensure that it is. We have invested £1.2 million for His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service to deliver a new end-to-end online possession process. The Government accept that we need to assess the operation of the county court possession process as we deliver our tenancy reforms. An efficient court system is critical to ensuring there is confidence in the new tenancy system. Government new clause 30 therefore requires the Lord Chancellor to prepare an assessment of the operation of possession proceedings for rented properties, and for that assessment to be published before section 21 can be abolished for existing tenancies.
Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab)
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If the Government are putting all that money in and doing all this planning, why can the Minister still not give us a date for when it will happen?

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I have just said, we have always been clear that we will abolish section 21 when we are confident that the county court system is ready. I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a date today because I cannot say until we are confident that the county court system is ready, but as I have said, we are investing £1.2 million for HM Courts and Tribunals Service to deliver the new process. It is important for him to recognise that if the court system is not ready when we make this change—the biggest change in 30 years—it will not benefit tenants. It will not benefit landlords, but it will certainly not benefit tenants.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con)
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I welcome new clause 30, because the reality is that county courts are already under very great pressure indeed. However, carrying out the assessment will itself bring a cost and, of course, Ministry of Justice budgets are already strained. What steps will be taken to support the Ministry of Justice and the Lord Chancellor with the cost of carrying out that important assessment?

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right. We have committed to making the assessment, so we will ensure that the relevant funding is in place. I have said that we have invested £1.2 million for HM Courts and Tribunals Service to deliver a new end-to-end online possession process, but I am pleased also to confirm to him today that we are investing a further £11 million this financial year to deliver a new digital system.

Clive Betts Portrait Mr Betts
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister has tried to blame the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee for this delay by saying that we noted that there was a problem in the courts, which would need to be ready to deal with the extra work caused by the abolition of section 21. However, the Government have had five years to sort the courts out and get them working properly. Surely that has been planned for right from the last election. On the Select Committee asking for improvements to the courts, I just point out that we asked for a specialist housing court—a bit like a small claims court—that could process things more quickly. We did not ask for that in our report last year; we asked for it in 2018, and the Government rejected it.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think I have been quite clear that it is important that we see that the courts are ready for these reforms. The Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer), is here on the Front Bench with me. He and the MOJ are working at pace to ensure that the courts are ready for the reforms we are introducing. The hon. Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts) asks about a specialist housing court. We do not believe that that is the best way to improve the court process for possession—a view shared by the judiciary who responded to our call for evidence.

Neil O'Brien Portrait Neil O’Brien (Harborough) (Con)
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The Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, the hon. Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), rightly said that this should have happened five years ago, but I gently say that in those five years we have had the coronavirus pandemic, which is the main thing that has slowed down the process of improving the courts. I strongly encourage the Minister not to rush into doing this prematurely, because it would benefit neither tenants nor landlords if he did.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do not think that it will surprise you, Madam Deputy Speaker, to learn that I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, whom I thank for making those points.

Government new clause 30 will enable the Government to assess the effect that our new tenancy system is having on county courts before our reforms are rolled out more widely, giving us confidence that the sector is ready. I am happy to share with colleagues that we are exploring whether serious eviction cases, such as for antisocial behaviour, can be prioritised in court listings. We will consult on options following Royal Assent.

Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton) (Con)
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I recently met Rentstart, a homelessness organisation with a great track record of working with landlords and getting the homeless into rented accommodation. It is slightly concerned that the changes might undermine its relationship with landlords, which it uses to facilitate the finding of homes for many vulnerable constituents and other people who have come into the constituency. In relation to the assessment that new clause 30 would bring about, what reassurance can the Minister give such organisations?

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The assessment is there purely to determine the timeliness of possession proceedings. In addition, we must acknowledge that there are other barriers to possession, such as the role of local authorities and bailiffs in the process. I hope that that is what the assessment is able to draw out. On Rentstart in my right hon. Friend’s constituency, I do not believe that our reforms will affect its relationships with landlords, but I am more than happy to meet him and Rentstart to understand its concerns more clearly and see if we can do anything to address them.

Government new clause 35 requires the Government to arrange for a review of the new tenancy system, in particular the impact of removing fixed terms and the operation of grounds for possession. That review will be carried out by an independent person, who will produce a report of their findings. The new clause requires the Government to lay the report before Parliament within 18 months of the earliest date on which the new tenancy system is applied to existing tenancies. We recognise that removing fixed terms is a significant change for the sector, and the review will explicitly consider the impact of the change. It will also consider how comprehensive and fair the reformed grounds for possession are, as well as the extent to which they are operating effectively, so that all parties can have confidence in them.

As I have said, the new tenancy system is a huge change for the sector—the biggest in 30 years—and it is right that we commit in legislation to reviewing its impact and implementation, and that we consider whether changes are needed based on real-world evidence. That will ensure that the system works as well as possible for all parties in the long term.

Wera Hobhouse Portrait Wera Hobhouse (Bath) (LD)
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I have mentioned several times in debate, and in a useful meeting that I had with the Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the hon. Member for Kensington (Felicity Buchan), who is here, that there is a need to amend the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 at the same time, because there is a danger that frustrated rogue landlords will refer back to that legislation, which is very badly understood and not well enforced by the police and local authorities. Will the Minister say a few things about that?

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am more than happy to address those points before the end of the debate, but I think that I have written to the hon. Lady about them. If I have not, I will ensure that I do in order to be clear about the amendments she has tabled.

Government new clause 36 places a duty on the Secretary of State to produce an annual report to Parliament on the stock of residential tenancies in the private rented sector. That report will need to be provided in the five years after the Bill receives Royal Assent. Reports under that duty would cover, but not be limited to, an analysis of the number, location and size of private rented sector properties. The new clause ensures that regular analysis of such information is available for scrutiny and debate.

I am aware that several Members have raised concerns about the interaction between the property portal and the role of selective licensing. The two systems have separate, distinct purposes: the portal will gather data on private rented sector ownership and property standards in England, providing an information source for local authorities to have oversight of the whole private rented sector in their area. It will help landlords to understand their legal obligations and will give tenants the information they need to make informed choices. Meanwhile, selective licensing provides local housing authorities with the powers to license privately rented properties within a designated area to address specific local issues, including poor housing conditions and high levels of antisocial behaviour or crime. While there will be overlap with data gathered through the portal, the information required for licences in these areas will be specific to the issue being tackled and will support more intensive enforcement action in the areas that need it most.

We do not want to see selective licensing abolished, but we do want to ensure that our reforms are streamlined and that burdens are minimised for landlords and local authorities. That is why I am committing to a review of selective licensing and the licensing of houses in multiple occupation to consider how we can reduce burdens and make the system more effective for landlords, tenants and local authorities. I am keen to work closely with Members and the wider sector on this issue, and will provide further details in due course.

I have sat on many Bill Committees in this House, and have now been privileged to lead my first Bill Committee, facing the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich. He has been a great person to work with and has sought at every opportunity to make sure the Bill works and is effective. I said to him in Committee that we would listen to suggestions for how we can improve the Bill, and we are doing so today. For tenants, we are expanding the homelessness prevention grant and closing loopholes in the system; for landlords, we are introducing an initial six-month tenancy and giving them certainty that our reforms will work. The Bill delivers on our manifesto commitments: it gives tenants security and landlords fairness. Our amendments continue to strike that balance, and I commend them to the House.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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Before I call the shadow Minister, I remind colleagues that if they wish to intervene on a speech, it is important that they have been in the Chamber since the beginning of the speech, just in case the important point they wish to raise has already been addressed. It is also important that they stay for the duration of the speech, in case other colleagues then refer to the important point that they have raised. I clarify that because we may have a longer speech from the shadow Minister, and people may wish to intervene, so I thought it would be helpful to remind colleagues of those rules.

Matthew Pennycook Portrait Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab)
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I rise on behalf of the Opposition to speak to the new clauses and amendments that stand in my name.

It is a pleasure to finally be back in the Chamber to conclude the remaining stages of this important piece of legislation. I say “finally” because as you will know, Madam Deputy Speaker, the Bill left Committee on 28 November last year—almost five months ago. Indeed, such has been the delay in bringing it back to the House that in the intervening 147 days, the Department even managed to complete all the Commons stages of another piece of housing legislation—albeit a distinctly limited and unambitious one—in the form of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill.

The reason for the delay is, of course, an open secret, with the ongoing resistance to the legislation from scores of Government Members—including many with relevant interests, as private renters across the country have certainly noted—and the undignified wrangling between them and Ministers splashed across the papers for months. The damage caused by the discord on the Government Benches has been significant: not only have thousands of additional private renters been put at risk of homelessness as a result of being served a section 21 notice in the months for which the Bill’s remaining stages have been delayed; the sector as a whole has been left in limbo, not knowing whether the Bill will proceed at all and, if it does, what form it will take.

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Indeed, such has been the frustration at the impact on landlords and tenants of the endless rumour, speculation and off-the-record briefings that have taken place, two organisations as different in their outlooks as Crisis and the National Residential Landlords Association felt compelled to come together to issue a joint statement, pleading with the Government to bring to an end the destabilising and damaging uncertainty and lack of progress. It has now finally been brought to an end: not with Ministers summoning up the courage to face down their unruly Back Benchers—as they could have done, with the votes of Labour Members if required—but, as is par for the course with this weak and divided Conservative Government, with a series of concessions designed to placate those Back Benchers at the expense of private renters, who will see a number of the rights and protections initially provided for by the Bill watered down.
The very fact that the Government are now suggesting that the Bill requires further significant amendment is ironic, given that the argument repeatedly made in Committee by the Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the hon. Member for Redcar (Jacob Young), as he resisted 81 Labour amendments was that the Bill as originally drafted struck precisely the right balance between the interests of landlords and those of tenants. Today, he has been put in the undignified position of having to come to the Dispatch Box to ask the House to accept in good faith that conversations with Conservative Back Benchers in the wake of Committee stage have convinced the Government in all sincerity that more amendments are now essential to ensure that balance is kept. It is frankly laughable—the reality of the grubby political horse-trading that has taken place within the Government is entirely transparent. The truth is that when it comes to this Bill, the only balance that the Government have ever sought to strike is between attempting to honour the letter of the 2019 Conservative party manifesto commitment and appeasing the vested interests pressing for the very minimum amount of reform required to assert that that commitment has been met.
Before I turn to the detail of the amendments before us, let me briefly set out Labour’s position on the Bill as we consider its remaining stages. With the Government having promised private renters over five years ago that they would scrap section 21 no-fault evictions, we maintain that this legislation is shamefully overdue. Given that any further delay would cause yet more harm, both to private tenants who are desperately in need of greater rights and protections and to responsible landlords who, above all else, require certainty, we believe that as imperfect as the Bill is, it is essential that it completes its passage today. Despite our best efforts in Committee, the Bill still contains numerous defects, deficiencies, omissions and loopholes that would allow the minority of disreputable landlords to exploit tenants and jeopardise their security of tenure. We remain, therefore, firmly of the view that the Bill is not yet fit for purpose and must be strengthened for the benefit of renters. As the Government appear determined to do the opposite and further tilt the playing field towards the landlord interest, we are determined not only to continue to press for those changes that we argued for in Committee, but to oppose those Government amendments that are detrimental to the interests of private tenants and that jeopardise the integrity of the Bill as introduced and risk fatally undermining it.
With the former objective in mind, I turn first to the amendments and new clauses that we have tabled for consideration. Nearly all are identical to the ones we pressed to a Division in Committee: they aim, among other things, to increase the minimum notice period in respect of de facto no-fault possession grounds from two to four months; remove the punitive and draconian new ground 8A relating to repeated rent arrears; better protect renters against unreasonable within-tenancy rent increases; allow the tribunal to make rent repayment orders for additional specific breaches; prohibit rental bidding wars; extend Awaab’s law to the private rented sector; and maintain the existing ground 14 definition of antisocial behaviour, rather than the Government’s expansive new definition of being “capable of causing” annoyance or nuisance. I commend each of those amendments and new clauses to the House.
Of particular importance to us is the need to ensure that section 21 evictions are definitively abolished at the point that the Bill becomes law. As drafted, the legislation provides for a two-stage commencement process for the introduction of the new tenancy regime, with the precise dates for new and existing tenancies to transition determined by the Secretary of State. We made it clear in Committee that we believe that this two-stage transition process is the right approach: it would clearly not be sensible to enact the whole of part 1, chapter 1 of the Bill immediately on Royal Assent. However, we argued that landlords and tenants should be given certainty about precisely when the Government’s manifesto commitment to abolish section 21 no-fault evictions will be enacted.
In resisting our efforts in Committee to amend the Bill so that section 21 is repealed on the day the Bill is formally approved, the Minister argued—as the Government have consistently done since announcing the concession in their response of 20 October 2023 to the Select Committee—that it would be wrong to do so until the courts are ready. The problem is that the Government have never been able to clearly articulate precisely what “ready” in that context means. Indeed, after weeks of debate in Committee, what Ministers believe the necessary court improvements encompass and what criteria will be used to determine whether sufficient progress has been achieved remain entirely ambiguous.
Hon. Members may recall that the background briefing note accompanying the King’s Speech suggested that the required improvements relate only to the court possession action process. In contrast, the Government’s response to the Select Committee last year outlined a far more expansive list of “target areas” for improvement, including many elements of the wider package of court reforms alluded to in the White Paper. We had hoped that the Minister would bring some clarity to the matter in Committee, yet in response to forensic questioning from hon. Members about exactly how the Government believe the county court system is underperforming, what the precise nature is of the improvements they believe are required before section 21 is completely abolished and how progress on delivering those improvements will be measured, the hon. Gentleman unfortunately offered little more than vague comments about ongoing digitisation, action to tackle bailiff delays and end-to-end processes.
As a result, as we contemplate sending this Bill to the other place today, not only do renters still have no idea when the new tenancy system will come into force, but they remain entirely in the dark on what may constitute requisite progress on the court reform that Ministers deem necessary. In our view, such a degree of uncertainty is simply unacceptable. The end of no-fault evictions cannot be made dependent on an unspecified degree of future progress in court improvements subjectively determined by Ministers.
Richard Graham Portrait Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con)
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The hon. Member is making an interesting point about uncertainty. I understand where he is coming from, and many of us on this side would very much like to see section 21 abolition implemented as soon as possible. Does he, however, accept that there is another uncertainty, which is that if the court system is not working adequately, the amount of private housing stock available for many of our constituents who need it badly could easily shrink fast, as indeed I believe has happened in Scotland? That would be a much greater risk than not laying out at this stage the precise date at which section 21 abolition will be fully implemented.

Matthew Pennycook Portrait Matthew Pennycook
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I would say two things to the hon. Gentleman, who makes a valid point. First, the Government have had five years, since they first made the commitment to abolish section 21, to get the courts fit for purpose, and they have not done so. Indeed, the timescales for both possession and litigation have remained essentially unchanged since 2019, so there has been no progress in those five years. The actual process of possession proceedings is also probably one of the more efficient aspects of the county court system. We heard extensive evidence in Committee about the fact that the system is essentially working fairly well and is recovering well from covid, and that these changes would not be significant enough to delay the implementation. Even if that were not the case, I would say to him that we should have clarity about precisely what are the improvements the Government think are necessary. Let us have metrics and let us have timelines, and then we can have an open and transparent conversation about precisely what “ready” means. At the moment, we are entirely in the dark.

We will remain in the dark even if Government new clause 30 is incorporated into the Bill, because it will merely require the Lord Chancellor to publish an assessment of the operation of the county court possession order process in England and its enforcement before the extended application date can be set for chapter 1 of part 1 of the Bill. There is no timescale in which that required assessment needs to be published, and there is nothing that specifies the metrics against which the Lord Chancellor would judge the readiness of the court system. There are no corresponding obligations imposed on the Secretary of State, so if a future Lord Chancellor assesses that funding or other specific measures are required to make the courts ready for the new system, there is nothing to compel the Government of the day to implement them. Even if a future Lord Chancellor were to assess that the courts were more than ready, it remains for the Secretary of State to determine whether they wish to make the relevant commencement order, even if clause 116 is amended by Government new clauses 27 and 28.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill
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Like my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham), I understand where the hon. Gentleman is coming from, and I do not have a problem with the abolition of section 21 no-fault evictions. However, as a south-east London MP, he will know that the reality is that the county courts face enormous pressure, particularly in our part of the world. I hope that, before hon. Members perhaps criticise the Government too much, they will talk to their own local county courts, because the data is suggesting that, on average, we could be looking at about 55 weeks from the commencement of a possession claim until the decision is made, and on top of that we have the enforcement period. That is not acceptable, and I want it to be quicker, but we need to accept, therefore, as the Association of His Majesty’s District Judges has pointed out—and I have to say to hon. Members that the data the Justice Committee has is the most accurate—that there has been underfunding of the county courts for many years. Frankly, that has been under Governments of both parties, because I can remember when I was in practice and the hon. Gentleman’s party was in government, and there was underfunding of the county courts then as well. We all have to take our share of responsibility for that, rather than making it a matter of party controversy.

Matthew Pennycook Portrait Matthew Pennycook
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I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for that point. We all want the processes to be quicker—I do not think that is in dispute at all—and they certainly could be made quicker. Landlords need robust grounds for possessions in legitimate circumstances, and they need the system to operate quickly when they do. The question for us today is: should we essentially put the abolition of section 21 on hold until we have reassurance about an undefined amount of improvement and if we do not know when that is going to be delivered?

Feryal Clark Portrait Feryal Clark
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All I have heard is about the importance of ensuring that the courts are functioning quickly enough to enable landlords to evict the tenants they want to evict, but currently renters have just over a month before they are evicted. I had a constituent who lost his son in the most horrific of circumstances—it was in the local papers—whose family was served a section 21 notice. The landlord knew the family had lost a child, but said they had to serve it because the family still had a month and they needed to get them to leave. Where is the protection for renters, and does my hon. Friend agree that kicking abolition of section 21 notices into the long grass means the Government do not care about renters at all?

Matthew Pennycook Portrait Matthew Pennycook
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My hon. Friend is right to highlight the impact on renters, and that is essentially what we are debating. With every month that passes, more private renters are served section 21 notices. Nearly 85,000 of them have been put at risk of homelessness as a result of being served one of those notices, as the Government have delayed the implementation of their commitment. As the Bill is drafted—even with Government new clause 30—Ministers can determine whenever they want to signal to the House that the courts are ready. We have had no assurances on that point, and that is not satisfactory.

In our view, Government new clause 30 is nothing more than a mechanism designed to facilitate the further delay of the complete abolition of section 21 evictions, and we will look to vote against it. With the Government having previously made it clear that there will be a requirement for advance notice of six months before new tenancies are converted, and a minimum of 12 months between that conversion and the transition of existing tenancies—with a proposal that the latter will also be made subject to the assessment required by Government new clause 30—it could be years before renters see section 21 completely abolished, making a complete mockery of the Secretary of State’s recent claim that such notices will be “outlawed” by the next general election.

We know the Government are in no rush to abolish section 21 evictions because they are not laying the groundwork that is necessary for that to happen. Where are the draft prescribed forms for section 8 notices, and where are the proposed amended court forms and civil procedure rules? There is no sign of them, or of any sense of what the regulations required to bring them forward might be. The truth is that Ministers determined long ago, for reasons that are entirely obvious, to essentially kick the can down the road on abolishing section 21 while disingenuously denying it. Although the passage of the Bill will be taken as a signal of abolition before the next general election, private renters outside will know that is not the case, and that implementation has been pushed back, potentially indefinitely.

We believe that hard-pressed renters have waited long enough for the commitment made by the Conservatives over five years ago to be delivered. They require certainty that it will truly be honoured, and section 21 evictions definitively abolished with the passing of this legislation. Our amendment 28 would provide that certainty by ensuring that section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 is repealed on the day that the Bill receives Royal Assent, with saving provisions for any notices served before that date so that they remain valid and of lawful effect. I commend the amendment to the House.

Government new clauses 27, 28 and 30, to which I have made reference, are only three of the 225 Government amendment tabled just before the deadline last week. Before concluding, I will touch briefly on several of the more substantive among them, starting with the small number that will be genuine improvements to the Bill. We are pleased that the Government have responded to our calls to ensure the maintenance of a number of the regulatory obligations that have built up around section 21 notices over the years by tabling Government new clause 14, which gives the Secretary of State the power by regulation to transpose those preconditions and requirements into section 8 eviction notices.

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Similarly, we are pleased that the Government have listened to the argument made by my hon. Friend the Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury) in Committee and that Government amendment 239 will amend the Bill to ensure that tenants maintain the right to access homelessness support when served with a valid section 8 notice. Sadly, those and other sensible Government amendments, including new clauses 32 and 34, are overshadowed by others that are far more concerning, chief among them Government new clause 15.
As the Minister explained, new clause 15 will prevent renters from serving a notice to quit within the first four months of a tenancy. Coupled with the two-month notice period provided for by the Bill as introduced, tenants will be unable to leave a property until they have resided in it for at least six months, unless the landlord agrees otherwise. The Government have committed to considering exemptions to this fixed initial six-month letting period in serious circumstances, such as domestic abuse, the death of a tenant or a serious hazard being present in the property. However, nothing in the new clause as drafted guarantees that any such exemptions will ultimately be made or what they would look like in practice. Even if such exemptions were introduced, we believe that the proposed six-month initial period would still be extremely damaging. Not only would placing the onus on tenants to prove that they qualified for an exemption under serious circumstances deter many, particularly those experiencing domestic abuse, from exploring such an option, but a fixed initial period of any kind risks fatally undermining the integrity of the new tenancy regime, premised as it is on all future assured tenancies being periodic and open-ended with tenants able to end their tenancy when they see fit with appropriate notice as provided for by the Bill.
The Government have advanced two arguments in justifying their eleventh-hour introduction of new clause 15: first, that it will ensure that the costs borne by landlords of finding tenants and making repairs between tenancies are covered; and secondly, that it will prevent tenants from using rented properties as short-term lets. All the available evidence suggests that the prohibitive cost of moving is leading to tenants staying longer in their homes. There is no evidence to support the entirely hypothetical notion that tenants are likely to game the new tenancy regime en masse to use rental properties as short-term lets. The truth is that there is no compelling rationale for Government new clause 15. As the Minister knows full well, if the Government were not having to appease a small minority in their own ranks, they would not be proposing it. We believe that the proposed six-month initial period will not only trap large numbers of tenants in unsafe and unsuitable properties, but put at risk the coherence of the tenancy regime that is at the heart of the Bill, and we will look to vote against it.
In conclusion, this is a long overdue piece of legislation, and it is imperative that it progresses today—there is no question about that but for those of us on the Opposition Benches, the Bill as introduced was only ever a starting point for overhauling the regulation of the private rented sector. As it progressed, the Bill should have been enhanced so that the playing field between landlord and tenant was levelled decisively. Instead, the fractious state of the Conservative party has seen the Government make concession after concession in an attempt—a fruitless attempt, from what we can see—to placate a minority of Members on the Government Benches. We need to draw a line today on what that minority can extract from Ministers to the detriment of private renters who deserve better, and we need to strengthen the Bill in a number of important respects. I urge the House to come together to do so.
Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con)
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There are many amendments on which I could speak—indeed, the book of amendments seems to be almost as long, if not longer than the Bill itself—but I will limit myself to new clause 12, which I have tabled in my name and those of hon. Friends and colleagues, and on which amendments 44 to 47 are contingent. First, I declare my interest in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests as chair of the quality and safeguarding board for a children’s company.

New clause 12 goes to the heart of my interests, as it deals with care-experienced children. Essentially, its purpose is to ensure that landlords do not discriminate against people who have grown up in the care system when making a decision on whom to rent a property to. It would place a specific duty on landlords, preventing them from denying those who have grown up in the care system a tenancy on that basis. Landlords found to be in breach of the new clause could be subject to penalties. That is the thrust of what I am trying to achieve, and it might strike a chord with many colleagues here.

Some may remember a recent case that highlighted the potential problem. The Guinness housing trust, in advertising a property for rent, specifically said that it was not available to care leavers. That was an extraordinary piece of discrimination, redolent of the bad old days when people put up signs saying, “No dogs, no Irish, no blacks”, if we can remember back that far. In that recent case, there was potential discrimination against young people who, through no fault of their own, had been through the care system. Guinness fortunately withdrew that straight away and apologised, but the case reinforced the vulnerabilities of some of the most vulnerable young people in our society when trying to get the most basic of daily requirements: a roof over their head. That is what is behind the new clause.

I thank the coalition of various charities and organisations that have done a lot of the heavy lifting on this issue, led by Barnardo’s and the charity for care-experienced young people, Become, as well as others. Let me say at the outset that new clause 12 is a probing amendment, and I am grateful for the positive engagement I have had from the Minister already. I am wholly optimistic that he will say some helpful and constructive things when he comes to respond. I will flesh out why this is an important amendment to this important Bill, in which I fully admit there are many other priorities.

As you know, Madam Deputy Speaker, I have a long-standing interest in championing care-experienced young people, whether formerly as Children’s Minister or now as the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for children and vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for care-experienced children and young people. Why do we need to do more to support care leavers when accessing accommodation in the private rented sector? It is imperative first for us to consider the bigger picture with the issues that our young people leaving care face. More than 85,000 children and young people are in the care system in England, which is a recent high. Every year, more than 12,000 of them leave that care system. We all know that unfortunately, despite all the best efforts and endeavours of successive Governments and Ministers, care leavers still have much poorer outcomes than their peers. They are less likely to gain good qualifications in the education system. Nearly half of the children in the care system have a mental health problem, and it is estimated that a quarter of homeless people have been in care at some point in their lives. They are also disproportionately represented in the justice system and make up over a quarter of serving prisoners.

From the age of 18, care-experienced young people are often expected to be financially independent and manage their own household bills, but research over many decades has shown that care leavers are much more financially vulnerable than their peers. A significant number live on or near the poverty line and struggle to make ends meet. [Interruption.] I am being echoed; as if Members cannot get enough of me once, they are now getting it in stereo with a time delay.

While inflation is beginning to come down, certain sectors continue to see large price increases, including the private rented sector. Private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK rose by some 6.2% in the 12 months to January this year, unchanged for the second consecutive month, and that puts huge pressure on all tenants. Young care leavers living independently at the age of just 18 have no support from the bank of mum and dad, and for them things can be especially tough.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Ind)
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The Member is making a very important and excellent point about care leavers. Does he agree that one of the problems is that on reaching the age of 18 they are deemed to be able to be independent but they have no support network in the way other young people of 18 often do, and therefore while they are getting housing support they might not be getting the necessary emotional and advice support that all other 18-year-olds get and benefit from? There is therefore a need for some sort of arrangement to ensure there is a continued level of support well after the age of 18, if the individual young person actually wants that.

Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton
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I agree with the right hon. Gentleman up to a point, and of course young people do not magically become much more self-sustainable and resilient the day after their 18th birthday, but there have been many improvements over the years. There is extended support for care leavers up to the age of 25, and there are arrangements whereby they can still have a relationship, including a financial relationship, for example with foster carers, through the “staying put” scheme the Government have come up with, and many charities and organisations do very good work in providing support, but the point the right hon. Gentleman makes is right. Most of us are lucky enough to be able to go running back home to birth families for help and support in difficult times, but that is not always available to young people in the care system, although many do have the continual support of good quality foster carers and other carers they relied on when they were under the age of 18. However, they are vulnerable, and ensuring these young people have a safe and stable home to start their adult lives is really crucial.

Housing can act as a vehicle for stability, and without access to good quality accommodation young people will face challenges in getting a job, staying in education and ongoing training, accessing health services and everything else. However, despite the key role housing can play in helping a young person transitioning to independent living, many care leavers are struggling to find suitable accommodation in those early years after leaving care. It is estimated that one in three care leavers become homeless in the first two years immediately after they leave care, and one in four homeless people have been in care at some point in their lives, as I mentioned earlier.

Young care leavers face many barriers in accessing appropriate accommodation, and many will not be able to be addressed in this Bill. However, it does offer an opportunity to address one of those barriers: that landlords sometimes feel reluctant to rent to young people who have grown up in the care system. Young people in care tell charitable organisations in the youth sector that they come across landlords who are reluctant to rent to them because of their circumstances, and evidence from a survey of care leavers carried out by the charity Centrepoint found that over one in 10—some 13%—said they had been unable to access accommodation because the landlord was unwilling to accommodate them because of their status. That is not fair.

The problem is also likely to get worse given the growing evidence of a reduction in the number of private rental properties available across England. An investigation by the BBC found the number of properties available to rent across the whole of the UK had fallen by a third in the 18 months up to March 2023, and increased competition for the properties that are available has enabled more landlords to pick and choose which tenants they like, often going for the highest bidder, which of course makes it especially challenging for vulnerable groups such as care leavers.

In the last few years Barnardo’s has been running a campaign to try and improve access to suitable accommodation for care leavers. I certainly support the campaign, which calls on all local authorities to offer rent guarantor and deposit schemes for care leavers seeking to rent in the private rented sector. The MacAlister report on children in social care, which the Government commissioned and which was published last year, made a recommendation that being a care-experienced child should be a protected characteristic. So far in excess of 60 local authorities, including my own in West Sussex, have voluntarily acknowledged that, although the Government have not made it a statutory addition at this stage. So some local authorities are already providing help to care leavers, with deposits or a scheme where they can act as a corporate guarantor.

Such schemes greatly help make care-experienced young people more attractive tenants, and a number of local authorities report that such schemes have had significant successes. The scheme operated by Kent County Council has had no rent defaults from when it started in 2018 until 2021; however, such schemes are not offered by most local authorities. A freedom of information request by the Care Leaver Local Offer website to the 151 local authorities in England with a children’s social care department showed that 60% will not act as a guarantor for care leavers.

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I understand Barnardo’s is currently in conversation with the Department for Education on how these schemes can be extended, with more local authorities being encouraged to develop them. That is welcome, but while such schemes will help, they will not be successful if landlords continue to have a reluctance to rent to this group and instead pass them over in favour of younger professionals who can offer the backing of a family or personal guarantor or higher incomes on their own terms. That is why through this amendment I am urging the Minister to extend the provisions in the Bill to require landlords not to discriminate against certain groups of tenants including care leavers. Young people who have grown up in care have often faced very difficult circumstances in their lives, which is why they ended up in care, and when they came into the care of the state we agreed that we would become their corporate parent. I very much see the amendment as key to fulfilling this duty in providing important extra support to care leavers, ensuring more of them will be able to access safe and stable accommodation that they can call home.
In closing, I want to say that there is a basis for having a consideration for foster families as well. I know from my experience working with fostering groups that landlords can be reluctant to rent to foster families who have a number of children who will change and may be a little more problematic in some cases as well. However, foster families do an essential job and we are short of about 8,000 or 9,000 foster carers in this country, and the last thing we need is for them not to be able to offer a safe, stable, loving home to a child who has been through traumatic experiences because they cannot get into rented accommodation themselves as landlords do not want to be housing children who may be a little more challenging in some circumstances, but in most cases are not. So consideration must be given to the idea that landlords should regard foster-caring families as people to be encouraged because they are doing a noble and worthy job for vulnerable children, and, frankly, that is just the sort of tenant they should want to encourage. So perhaps in considering the way we treat care leavers themselves going out into the big wide world to rent we should also be mindful of the needs of foster carers, who have done such a fantastic job in picking those children and young people up and guiding them through to adulthood.
I want to secure the Minister’s commitment to work with colleagues particularly in the Department for Education, which has the lead responsibility for children in the care system, to consider how to involve landlords when developing new rent guarantor and deposit schemes for care leavers, and to agree to keep the issue under review with the possibility of using a power the Secretary of State has under the Bill to extend the non-discrimination clauses to groups such as children with care experience.
I know my hon. Friend the Minister is sympathetic to the thrust of my probing amendment and in his response and the Government’s official response on these matters we must send out a very clear signal that discriminating against children in the care system and care leavers is not on. People should have more of a duty of care to do everything they can to make sure those young people who have missed out on many of the things we take for granted—a safe and loving family at home—are not disadvantaged yet again by not being able to get a roof over their head. I hope the Minister will respond favourably to this probing amendment, and I am sure he will.
None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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Order. Before I call the next speaker, I inform the House that I will be giving priority to those Members who have amendments down, so that they can speak to them before we hear from others. I call Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, Clive Betts.

Clive Betts Portrait Mr Betts
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It is disappointing that we are having to focus primarily on the Government back-pedalling on the timetable for the abolition of section 21. The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee looked at this a year ago and concluded unanimously that the principle of the Government’s intention was right. We had some reservations and caveats, and we raised concerns and suggested detail changes, but nevertheless we agreed on the principle. Generally speaking, there is agreement across the House that it is the right thing to do.

In the meantime, people are living in uncertainty in private rented housing. That is why we thought it was the right thing to do. That is what the measure is for: to give people greater certainty about where they will be living in a year’s time. It is not merely that; it is also so that they know, if they do not have a car, that they can get on the bus to their place of work in the morning—if the landlord evicts them and they have to move home, will they be able to get to that job in the future? It is also about children at school: will those children be able to get to the same school if they are evicted from their home and have to find a new property? That is the sort of family certainty that the abolition of section 21 will introduce. So many families are living in uncertainty—not just housing uncertainty but other uncertainty—while we await that abolition. The Minister needs to get on with it and give us some clear time commitments on when it will happen.

We have just discussed the problem of the courts. Of course, covid has affected lots of public services, but I say to the Minister that it is not a surprise. If we look at how long it was taking local authorities to get court hearings to deal with antisocial behaviour cases before covid, we see even then that those ran into months. It has been a problem in the courts for many years. That is why the Committee has suggested—it has been suggested before—a housing court system. I know that Ministers do not want it and that the Ministry of Justice does not want it, but it seemed to us a way of resolving what are often simple or quick problems. A small claims court format could do it in many cases without the need for lawyers to be introduced. I am sorry, but I have no conviction that, with several months of looking at this, several years of contemplation and plans for action, the courts will be any quicker in two or three years than they are now. The court system has delays, and they are likely to remain, so we need to look a bit beyond the existing system to resolve these problems. Obviously, Ministers have set their minds against that.

I turn to the other main problem that we highlighted on implementation: local authorities and their staff. We know that local authorities are desperately short of staff for enforcement in the private rented sector. Once section 21 goes, tenants who are currently frightened—even those living in appalling damp properties—to make complaints against their landlords, because they are concerned they would be evicted as soon as a complaint is made, will feel emboldened to make that complaint, and if their complaint is not listened to, they will be emboldened to go to their local authority and ask for help. Local authorities will get more requests for help, and they have not got the people to deal with that.

Will the Minister assure us that he is starting to talk to the Local Government Association about the new burdens that will be placed on local authorities—this is a new burden that we are imposing on them, albeit a good one—and that there is some agreement on the resource that will be needed? Resources do not produce extra staff overnight, so local authorities will need advance warning so that we have the staff in place to respond quickly.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall (Totnes) (Con)
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I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman. Given the important point he is making about redress for tenants and who they might go to, would he add any comment on consumer protection for unfair trading, which is one of the remedies for those who have difficulties with either the standard and quality of their property or the landlord, as well as those who have been mis-sold for a rental period?

Clive Betts Portrait Mr Betts
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I think the reality is that local authorities are generally short of resources right through, as the Committee’s recent report on local authority funding—again, it was unanimously agreed—showed. Because of the demands of social care on local authority budgets, other services are often cut even more than the mainstream. We have previously looked at trading standards and consumer protection, which are an important element—the hon. Member is absolutely right—and I hope that they will be factored in when we have the new burdens discussions.

There are some things that the Minister could resolve fairly quickly. He referred to the important role that the ombudsman can play in resolving disputes. There is sometimes a bit of a conflict between whether someone goes to the ombudsman or to the courts—sometimes, the ombudsman will not deal with a case if it is in the courts. It would be helpful to clarify those issues. But why does he not just decide that the housing ombudsman, who currently deals with social housing issues, will also deal with private sector housing? He should make that decision. Again, if the ombudsman is to have that responsibility, it needs to gear up by starting to recruit more staff and getting in resources to be able to do it. It is a simple decision. He has not ruled it out, but he has not ruled it in. Can we not just do it? It seems obvious. Why set up another body, which would have to start from scratch, when the ombudsman has the skills to do it? Those skills are slightly different in some cases, but why not let it get on with that, and tell it now that it will have that job to do?

I have a couple of other points. The property portal is a really welcome development. We know that when someone is trying to track down a landlord—it is often a local authority, which wants to serve a notice on them—suddenly, the ownership of the property moves, and a different member of the family becomes an owner, or a different company is set up. To know who owns the property, information will have to be given to the property portal, along with all other information about the property. That is a really important step forward, as well as making sure that the portals are digitised so that the information can be kept up to date simply.

I welcome the Minister saying that selective licensing and the property portal are not the same thing, with the property portal to be there for all properties. Selective licensing—it is in the name—will be there for some properties. When there is a review of selective licensing and the relationship with the property portal, will the proposals come back to the House for consideration at some point? I want reassurance on that. Many of us support selective licensing, which we see operating against the worst landlords and the worst properties, and we hope that there will not be a diminution of those powers and responsibilities that would weaken what it can achieve.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
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I can certainly commit to working with the hon. Member and his Committee when we are at the point of making a decision on where we go after such a review. I completely agree that selective licensing has its role—it is not overtaken by the property portal—but we must ensure that the two work together.

Clive Betts Portrait Mr Betts
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That is a helpful assurance, which I accept, and I think he has already given assurance of similar collaboration on the decent homes standard, which is appreciated.

Finally, I come specifically to some complicated amendments that I have tabled—I admit that they even confuse me on occasions—which are about the powers that social landlords have when they come to regenerate areas. The Committee has heard some pretty awful examples of poor properties in the social housing sector, and we have been critical. However, often it is not an individual property that is the problem, but properties in deck-access blocks built in the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s. The property has reached the end of its life and people do not like living there: it might have damp or other problems, such as antisocial behaviour. The management costs are high and the cost of regeneration, making it fit for purpose and bringing it up to decent homes standards, is so great that it is not worth spending the money. In some cases demolition and rebuild is needed, and in others substantial regeneration and improvement is needed, and that means the tenants have to move out.

In those cases, social landlords need to be certain that they have the power to require tenants to move, because in a block of properties of 100 residents, 95 of them will probably be terribly enthusiastic about moving out, particularly if they are going to get a new or refurbished home, but the other five might dig their heels in and try to stick it out, holding up the whole scheme. The Minister believes that social landlords have the power to do that under existing legislation. I have tabled amendment 52 and the related amendments because the National Housing Federation is concerned that social landlords think they have powers, but they do not exist where the initial tenancy with their secure tenant was set up by a nomination from a local authority. It is a complicated legal issue, but an important one.

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The NHF is also concerned that although someone can be moved on by a secure tenancy being taken away and another being given, where someone is being moved on not to secure tenancy—because it is a decant property, pending their home being refurbished—social landlords may not have the same powers. There are legal and technical complications in this area. I will not press my amendments, but I tabled them because the NHF is still concerned, even with the Minister’s assurance. Will he agree to meet me and the NHF to try to ensure that landlords have the powers to act in this way, which I think everyone will support them to do?
Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
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The hon. Gentleman makes legitimate points, and I am more than happy to meet him and the National Housing Federation.

Clive Betts Portrait Mr Betts
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I thank the Minister for that response. On that collaborative point, I will end my contribution.

Natalie Elphicke Portrait Mrs Natalie Elphicke (Dover) (Con)
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I am very pleased to follow the Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, on which I sit. He expressed very well the importance of the section 21 reforms, in particular to families and to renters who are so reliant on them.

My view is that the Bill does not go far enough in dealing with the fundamental challenges of the private rented sector, which is no longer a flex or transitionary tenure but the main tenure for millions of people for much, if not all, of their lives. There has been a long-term structural shift away from social renting and home ownership into an expanded private rented sector. That shift needs to be addressed by building more homes—affordable homes and for first-time buyers—and by finding a new balance that reflects the new reality for millions of people in our country.

Sadly, the original principle of the Bill, which was to create a fair and responsible new rented sector, has been undermined by the Government’s amendments. That change of position undermines not just the Bill but the very manifesto commitment on which the Conservative Government were elected in 2019.

Turning to the amendments and new clauses that stand in my name, new clause 39 would require a landlord to make a relocation payment to the tenant if the tenant is evicted within two years of the start of the tenancy, other than on exempted grounds such as antisocial or criminal behaviour. Evidence from Shelter and Generation Rent shows that unrecoverable costs—the wasted cost to the renter of an unwanted move—can be between £700 and £1,700. My new clause proposes that a payment would be made by the landlord in recognition of those unrecoverable costs to the tenant. Being evicted places a great emotional strain on tenants, who find themselves in insecure housing. It should not place them under a financial strain as well.

Amendment 257 would amend ground 12—possession due to a failure to carry out an obligation of the tenancy—in schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988, setting out the grounds for possession. That provision will gain much greater importance following these changes, for it is the catch-all provision for evictions. The amendment is intended to address the risk of being served a notice for eviction for trivial matters, such as hanging up washing outside, displaying a poster on a wall, or a teenager putting up a poster with Blu Tack. Those are real examples written into existing tenancy agreements by letting agencies that are members of their relevant professional bodies. Amendment 257 would provide that ground 12 could be used only for material breaches, not for Blu Tack.

The Minister has written to me to say that there were landlords who wanted to make the ground 12 position mandatory. These are landlords who want to be able to serve notice and evict tenants for using Blu Tack. In my book, if you are to lose your home it should be for a serious reason, not for Blu Tack or hanging the washing outside or any other trivial thing. All the more so, because we know that the majority of evictions take place when notices are given to the tenant without court applications, let alone court repossession orders.

The Law Society has raised the issue of the scarcity of legal advice available to tenants across the country. We have heard already today that the Government have not yet produced even working drafts of what the new forms might be for the new eviction grounds. That also matters, because at the moment the court forms require the ground to be set out in the document. They do not require, for example, for that to specify whether it is in fact a discretionary or other ground for the courts. So this does impact directly on tenants’ understanding and ability to challenge their potential eviction. As such, the Government’s position, which is to allow ground 12—the Blu Tack ground—unamended, is to invite every landlord to invoke spurious and unfair reasons for evictions. This is apparently not the intent of the Bill. I am grateful to the Minister for his engagement with me on that ground. I ask him to reconsider that position and see what more can be done to ensure that ground 12 applies only in relation to serious matters. That seems much more reasonable, and fair to landlords and tenants alike.

On Government new clause 30, when I spoke to major landlords recently, they confirmed that they are not yet ready to digitise. They are not yet ready to put in place and work with the very provisions for which they have so strongly advocated. I understand that it might take some more than two years to put their own systems in place to engage with the new measures they have asked for. Meanwhile, and after all this time—nearly five years—the Government have no detailed plans about what these court changes might be. In November, in Committee, the Minister denied that this was a delaying tactic. However, since then the Ministry of Justice has published its digitisation and reform programme all the way through to 2025. There is absolutely no reference—not even an indicative reference—to this reform programme relating to repossessions. I asked the House of Commons Library for assistance, but it too has been unable to find any specific reference to the changes that may come up in the court process. So I am afraid that the truth is that new clause 30 is a delaying tactic to benefit landlords.

As has been mentioned, the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee has written to the Minister on the implementation of these measures. It has been noted by the Committee that court guidance is already in place to deal with repossession claims in a timely manner. They are contained already in civil procedure rules 55.5. Of course, the courts can always be improved—indeed, it is most welcome that there is a commitment that they should be so—but it should be noted that the Ministry of Justice’s data shows that last year the target set out for repossession has, in fact, been met. The courts’ performance in landlord repossession cases stands in marked contrast, in the recovery since covid, to many other court backlogs.

That was confirmed in written evidence to the Justice Committee. I am grateful to the Chair of the Justice Committee, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill)—he is not currently in his place—for whom I have the greatest respect. I note that in the written evidence to that Committee, the MOJ confirmed, just in September, that 95% of courts were meeting that target. I understand that the much larger number of weeks to which my hon. and learned Friend referred may relate to personal injury and other matters that were brought before the Committee, but I will discuss that with him later, given that he is not currently in the Chamber.

These are important reforms and it is important for the court processes to work in the right way, but they are working within their current targets, in marked contrast to other court backlogs. That is why new clause 30 is not necessary, and is properly considered to be a delaying tactic.

This is a Bill that the 2019 Conservative manifesto promised would benefit tenants, but it has become a Bill in which the balance too often favours the landlords, particularly if it includes new clause 30, which could indefinitely delay the abolition of section 21 no-fault evictions. That would be nothing short of a betrayal of the promise that was made in 2019, and for that reason I am unable to support the new clause.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD)
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I am delighted to speak about this important Bill on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Helen Morgan), who unfortunately could not be here today but who has done a huge amount of work on it, including her work in Committee. I thank the Minister for his comments about her, and for the constructive way in which he has worked with her throughout the Bill’s passage so far on specific amendments, some of which I will discuss in due course.

The Liberal Democrats support the Bill in principle because we want to ensure that the private rental market is fair for all, and we have long called for section 21 no-fault evictions to be scrapped. Barely a week goes by when I, a London MP, do not hear from yet another family who are being turfed out of their home for spurious reasons under section 21. I am sorry to say that, as many others have pointed out, the Government have been far too slow in introducing these measures. They have been dragged into it kicking and screaming at every turn, and having made the commitment five years ago and having had plenty of legislative time available in the last and current Sessions, they have delayed and delayed. Meanwhile, a cost of living crisis has meant even more people becoming homeless, and rising pressures on councils that are having to pay for emergency accommodation.

Amendment 3, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire, would increase the time that must elapse between a landlord’s taking ownership of a property and making the property available for rent to six months, from the currently proposed three. This six-month period is designed to act as a more effective deterrent for landlords wishing to evict tenants in order to remarket a property quickly, or “flip” it into a holiday let. I note that a similar amendment tabled by the Opposition would extend the time to 12 months. The Liberal Democrats believe that would risk driving landlords from the market, and that six months strikes the right balance between protecting tenants from sharp practice and not driving reputable landlords away.

“Flipping”, or quickly remarketing property for holiday letting, has caused serious injustice in some of the most beautiful places in the country, such as Cumbria. Local people living in tourist hotspots often struggle to afford a home in their area because of the rapid increase in the number of properties taken out of residential let and used solely as short-term holiday lets. That has a knock-on impact in terms of workforce pressures, especially in the hospitality and care sectors. Of course there needs to be some holiday accommodation in beautiful areas that benefit economically from attracting tourism, but we must find a balance between holiday and private rented sector accommodation.

I am grateful to the Government for accepting that point and working constructively with the Liberal Democrats by tabling amendment 66. Although their amendment does not go quite as far as we would have liked and include a six-month restricted period, it will ensure that landlords cannot remarket a property as a short-term or holiday let within three months of purchase. That is a much-needed step towards levelling the playing field in the housing market for local people in tourist hotspots and helping local economies and communities to thrive.

Amendment 37, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire, would ensure that accommodation rented from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation by service individuals and their families is subject to the decent homes standard. Servicemen and women are housed in accommodation rented from the DIO, which is currently not subject to a minimum standard. This means that individuals who have put their lives on the line for our country are not necessarily guaranteed a warm and safe place to live in return. Across the country, and specifically at RAF Shawbury and Tern Hill barracks in north Shropshire, there have been reports of service family accommodation being plagued by black mould, rat infestations and chronic overcrowding. That is no way to treat people who have put their lives on the line to serve this country. Frankly, they deserve better.

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Amendment 37 would ensure that all accommodation rented from the DIO meets minimum housing standards, such as being in a reasonable state of repair and providing a reasonable degree of thermal comfort. Without the amendment, the Government would miss out on a crucial opportunity to finally bring service accommodation up to a decent standard. I am sure that Members on both sides of the House will agree that this is the absolute minimum we should be offering to service individuals, so I hope that the Minister can offer reassurance from the Dispatch Box that he and his Department are willing to move on this issue, ahead of the Bill moving to the other place, by working with my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire to ensure that the decent homes standard is applied to all military service accommodation. Otherwise, we will push the amendment to a vote.
Amendment 28 was tabled by those on the Opposition Front Bench. Some Conservative Members question why we should scrap section 21—not just in name, but by implementing this legislation at the earliest possible opportunity—but I ask them what they would say to the father in my constituency who contacted me last year. He was served a section 21 notice for having the temerity to fix a leak in his home that was causing damp and mould. His landlord had refused to do the repairs and he had two children living with very serious health conditions, whose symptoms were exacerbated by the mould. The endless delay from those on the Conservative Benches has meant that thousands more families like my constituents have found themselves homeless. Last week, I received another case of a family who are about to be evicted, just as two of their children start their GCSEs and A-levels.
Some 1.8 million renter households in this country include children. We should be putting them first, which is why the Liberal Democrats support amendment 28. Abolishing section 21 evictions would ensure that tenants living in properties suffering from disrepair, or even infestation, can report such issues to their landlords without the fear of a revenge eviction. It would also drive up standards in the rental sector and give tenants a much-needed voice. There should be absolutely no delay in the abolition of section 21 notices.
I also want to speak in support of amendment 20, which was tabled by those on the Opposition Front Bench. It would maintain the existing definition of antisocial behaviour as
“being conduct causing or likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance, rather than being defined as behaviour ‘capable of causing’ nuisance or annoyance.”
That is a small but critical difference in the definition of antisocial behaviour. Without the amendment, the Conservative Government would be writing a very ambiguous definition of antisocial behaviour into the statute book. The Government’s definition of antisocial behaviour could allow landlords to use it as a quick way to evict tenants, or as a back door to section 21 evictions. In Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire moved an amendment that worded the definition similarly.
We must have a definition of antisocial behaviour that protects tenants from unfair eviction but ensures that landlords have the tools necessary to evict tenants in cases of genuine disturbance. In his Second Reading speech, the Secretary of State promised this House that the Bill would bring tenants and landlords together to put in place
“stronger protections for the future”.—[Official Report, 23 October 2023; Vol. 738, c. 641.]
Without amendment 20, he will fail to do so.
New clause 38, which I tabled, would introduce a technical change that I discussed earlier with the Minister. It seeks to address an anomaly in the Bill as drafted in relation to leaseholders seeking to let their properties. I am grateful to the Minister and his officials for their attention and I recognise that Government new clause 13 addresses this issue to a large extent, but as I discussed earlier with the Minister, I look forward to working with him and discussing how we can ensure that this provision is further extended to leases where freeholder or management company consent is required for a sub-letting.
I place on the record my strong support for new clause 12, tabled by the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton). I strongly endorse all his comments on care leavers and foster families, and of course he would expect me to add the families of kinship carers to that category. I urge the Government to work constructively with him on that.
The Liberal Democrats are broadly in favour of the Bill and appreciate the fact that the Government have agreed to work with us on the importance of safeguarding communities from being priced out by the popularity of the holiday let market. Despite that, we would have like the Bill to go further and we urge the Government not to ignore this opportunity finally to guarantee service individuals and their families the right to decent housing and to close the ambiguity on antisocial behaviour to ensure that it is not just another way for landlords to unfairly evict tenants.
I end by calling once again for the Government to stop kicking the can of abolishing section 21 down the road. I say gently to the Minister, who has been very collaborative in his comments, that we have seen with the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill that when the Government are hellbent on doing something for political purposes, they will ram the legislation through. They will ensure that those flights get off the ground because it serves their political purposes. So if there is a will, there is a way. I take on board the point about the courts having to be ready, but I firmly believe that if this Government want to do something, they have the means to achieve it. I therefore urge the Minister again to protect renters, particularly those families with children up and down the country who are facing homelessness every single week. This is a core reform that the Liberal Democrats have long called for and that the Government have long delayed. It is high time they stepped up and delivered it.
None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. Before I call the next hon. Member speaks, I have now to announce the result of today’s deferred Division on the draft Economic Growth (Regulatory Functions) (Amendment) Order 2024. The Ayes were 395 and the Noes were 50, so the Ayes have it.

[The Division list is published at the end of today’s debates.]

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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I rise to speak to the amendments that stand in my name, as well as on a number of Government amendments. I feel that I should start by thanking both the Minister and the shadow Minister for their conversations over the last five months on this topic.

I should be clear about my position in leading a number of amendments to the Bill. At no point have we ever sought to stop section 21 coming in, and I hope that I will be able to make that clear in the course of my remarks. What we have sought to do is to stop the ending of fixed-term tenancies—something I believe would have a dramatic impact on the supply of properties, including long-term rental properties. That, to me, is the concern. I believe that it will cause far greater upset in the short and long term in respect of whether people can have the houses that they need.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Portrait Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) (Con)
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In rural areas such as mine where housing is already very expensive, more and more landlords are already deciding that letting their properties out is not worth the candle. They will therefore sell them, and the effect will be that there are fewer and fewer properties to rent. Those that are available will therefore go up and up in price and our youngsters will struggle to get on to the rental ladder.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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I thank my hon. Friend for making that point. It is one that I will come on to, in terms of both the impact that the Bill will have on the attractiveness of short-term lets and the bureaucracy and hassle that will arise from this legislation.

From the outset of the Bill’s arrival in Parliament, I have worked to ensure that it strikes the right balance between tenant and landlord—a balance that ensures that the rights of tenants are respected and enshrined in legislation while the rights of landlords, property ownership and contract law are maintained and safeguarded. I believe that a failure to strike that balance would have a disastrous impact on the private rental market in the United Kingdom. Complicating the rental market with onerous requests, bureaucratic measures, additional costs and an inability for people to operate their personal property as they wish would only result in large swathes of the private rented sector throwing up their hands and selling their properties, just as a failure to support tenants would only embolden rogue landlords, diminish standards and increase unfair treatment.

From the start, it has been my mission to find a level playing field that ensures that tenants and landlords can co-operate together in a fair market that has a healthy supply of rental properties, with rights and standards enshrined, costs low and bureaucracy minimal, in a system that respects the rule of law and, perhaps most importantly, has a structure and a court system that is effective and that delivers. All of this has been done because we are in the midst of a supply crisis in the private rented sector, on which we have yet to touch.

On average, 25 prospective tenants inquire about every available rental property, up from eight in 2019, according to Rightmove. Hamptons estimates that between 2016 and the end of 2023, individual landlords sold almost 300,000 more homes than they bought. Last year, the Bank of England warned that demand for rental properties continued to outstrip supply as the number of landlords choosing to exit the market increased. It is therefore vital that responsible landlords have confidence that pragmatic changes are being made to the Bill. Failure to do so would only deepen the crisis.

I have said previously that the failure to have a sensible rental period at the start of a tenancy would likely result in the flourishing of long-term rental properties being used as short-term lets. Given the substantial price difference between short-term lets and long-term lets in constituencies like mine and the constituencies of the hon. Members for North Shropshire (Helen Morgan) and for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron), there would be a very real likelihood of people exploiting that loophole.

Landlords incur costs and expenses when entering into a tenancy, and they need the certainty of a minimum period. Many buy-to-let mortgage lenders also require a minimum six-month tenancy agreement when lending to residential landlords. As a result, I tabled amendment 6 with the support of 58 colleagues to ensure that tenants cannot give two months’ notice to leave a property until they have resided in it for four months. I believe that this is in line with the recommendations of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee. I therefore welcome that the Government have accepted this argument and tabled new clause 15, which mirrors amendment 6. I will therefore not press my amendment.

Matthew Pennycook Portrait Matthew Pennycook
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I wonder whether I can tease out the hon. Gentleman’s reasoning in thinking that the possibility of rental properties being used as short-term lets is so serious. It is an entirely hypothetical problem. Renters who take out a tenancy agreement will have to provide a five-week deposit—they will probably be charged the maximum—and they have to go through a lengthy process to try to get that deposit back. What evidence does he have to suggest that, en masse, tenants will try to game the system in the way he expects?

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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With the greatest of respect, I am saying that that is one of the reasons why I fear not having a minimum notice period. My constituency has the highest number of second homes and short-term lets of almost anywhere in the country. There is a significant price differential, and a significant amount of hassle is being heaped on landlords by this Bill, which might push them in that direction. This may be one of the foreseeable consequences. I have raised it on Second Reading and in private conversations with the hon. Gentleman.

New clause 2, on rent repayment orders, would enable local housing authorities to impose financial penalties on certain individuals where they believe that a housing offence has been committed by a body corporate. Last year, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling in which it said that, where a rent-to-rent company takes over the running of a property, it cannot pass its legal liabilities on to the property’s landlord. The Government have amended the Bill to reverse that decision, which will mean that landlords can be fined even in cases where a rent-to-rent company or similar has, without the landlord’s knowledge, been asked by a tenant to illegally sub-let a property. According to data from Direct Line, one in 10 renters admits to sub-letting part of the home in which they live, of whom 48% did not disclose it to their landlord and three quarters did not review their existing lease agreement to determine whether sub-letting was permitted. The amendment would deal with the main concern associated with the use of rent-to-rent companies. It would address the problem of landlords and others who willingly hide behind such companies to let properties while avoiding liability for rent repayment orders, without penalising those who are innocent victims of such companies. I welcome and recognise the fact that the Government have seen sense and tabled their own amendment, mirroring my proposed new clause 2, in the form of proposed Government new clause 34. I therefore withdraw proposed new clause 2.

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Amendments 8 and 9, in my name, are about court reform. As has been discussed, amendment 9 will require the Secretary of State to publish a review of the operation of residential possession proceedings before determining the commencement date for the provisions of chapter 1 of part 1. Reforms to the justice system are vital for tenants and landlords to be able to enforce their rights when section 21 is rightly ended.
The Law Society has warned that
“the courts are vastly overstretched: possession claims and the eviction process can take many months, sometimes more. The bill may lead to an increase in contested hearings in the short term as landlords that would previously have used no-fault provisions will instead have to prove fault. The government should outline how it intends to manage increased demand on the courts and what additional resourcing it will put in place to deal with existing backlogs.”
Data from the Ministry of Justice shows that it takes a mean average of almost 29 weeks between a private landlord making a legitimate possession claim to repossession happening under section 8 procedure. The Ministry of Justice notes:
“Timeliness figures are higher than the legal guidelines.”
It is not acceptable that, where tenants are committing antisocial behaviour, fellow tenants and neighbours are expected to wait over half a year before the problem is resolved.
Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
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As I said in my opening speech, we are exploring expediting possession for serious antisocial behaviour claims. I am happy to work with my hon. Friend on how we go about that and ensure that it happens before these reforms are fully implemented.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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The Minister will find in this part of my speech we will be agreeing vehemently, although the latter part of my speech might not be so agreeable. I am grateful to him for his intervention; I always welcome the opportunity to work with him.

Likewise, in the case of rent arrears, it cannot be acceptable to have a system that allows rent arrears to continue to build for seven months. The amendment would make good on the Government’s commitment that the justice system is fully prepared for the impact of the end of section 21. Again, I am grateful that the Government have decided to accept the point in principle and introduce proposed Government new clause 30, which mirrors my amendment 9, which was supported by so many colleagues. I therefore withdraw amendment 9.

Proposed new clause 1, the repeal of requirement for selective licensing, under my name, would remove the ability of local housing authorities to designate areas as subject to selective licensing. The Bill provides the Secretary of State with the power to develop a new property portal that all landlords would have to join to demonstrate to prospective tenants that the properties they rent meet all required standards. It would be effectively a national licensing scheme. As selective licensing deals only with management quality and not property standards, the changes in the Bill are likely to do more than selective licensing to improve properties.

Since councils will be able to use the portal to access information on all private rented properties and landlords operating in their area, and in view of plans for a decent homes standard for the sector, local selective licensing schemes will be made redundant. In Wales, the introduction of landlord registration led to the end of almost all selective licensing, so it is unlikely that local authorities would pursue costly and complex schemes in future. I take on board the Minister’s comments in his opening remarks.

Selective licensing is an additional cost to landlords, in addition to the property portal and redress scheme. Landlords should not have to be regulated twice and pay twice for much the same thing. Proposed new clause 1 would scrap selective licensing schemes for private rented housing when the property portal goes live. Having both would not enhance protections for tenants, but merely be a duplication. Scrapping them would remove an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and cost for landlords. I am grateful for the Minister’s opening remarks. I will take the Government at their word that the Dispatch Box commitment to conduct a review of selective licensing will take place at the earliest opportunity.

My new clause 3 would enable courts to consider hearsay evidence during the course of proceedings for possession on the grounds of antisocial behaviour. It is vital that, when section 21 ends, swift and effective action can be taken against tenants committing antisocial behaviour who cause misery for so many neighbours and fellow tenants. To support this, the Government have changed the wording of the discretionary ground to repossess a property due to tenant antisocial behaviour—ground 14. They clarify that any behaviour “capable” of causing “nuisance or annoyance” can lead to eviction. Previously, it was behaviour “likely” to cause a problem.

However, that is not the true problem. The current problem, which is not dealt with by the Bill, is that the main evidence of nuisance is provided by neighbours, as they are closest to the person involved. The changes to the definition of nuisance do not alter the fact that evidence of behaviour needs to be provided, and that will still come from neighbours. However, in so many instances, neighbours are reluctant to attend court and give evidence, in part because the slow speed of the court system means that they will be forced to live near the person that they have reported or helped to evict for several months afterwards.

A better solution would be to allow landlords to use evidence of problematic behaviour that is provided by neighbours complaining by text or email to the landlord or the letting agency. This evidence is not currently admissible, and the courts cannot give sufficient weight to it when deciding whether the tenant is committing antisocial behaviour. This amendment would allow for such evidence to be used by the courts.

In the negotiations and discussions that we had in the run-up to this debate, the Minister’s Department and his civil service team were extremely helpful in highlighting Civil Procedure Rule part 33.3 in relation to

“circumstances in which notice of intention to rely on hearsay evidence is not required.”

Again, the comments made by the Minister are welcome, although I hope his Department will follow this up with the Ministry of Justice. I therefore withdraw new clause 3.

Amendment 5 covers houses of multiple occupancy relating specifically to students. This would mean that the ground for possession for student properties could also be used for properties occupied by one or two students, which would not otherwise have been considered as HMOs.

Ending fixed-term tenancies will be problematic for the student housing market—it would be problematic for the whole Bill—which operates on a yearly cycle, from one academic year to another. Although the Government have recognised that by allowing fixed-term agreements to continue in purpose-built student accommodation, it will not apply, as I understand it, to traditional off-street private-rented housing, often rented to those in their second or third year of studies. This is a concern shared by many in the industry and, indeed, by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, which has noted:

“Currently, the proposal is to include this part of the PRS in the tenancy reform, but we conclude that abolishing fixed-term contracts could make lettings to students considerably less attractive to private landlords, as the student market mirrors the academic year and benefits greatly from 12-month fixed tenancies.”

I hope that I have quoted the Select Committee report accurately.

A Government amendment to the Bill made at Committee stage established a new ground for possession—ground 4A—to protect the student housing market. This is to be welcomed. It will ensure that landlords can guarantee that most student properties will be available for each academic year, but it will not protect all student housing. The new ground will cover only houses of multiple occupation; it will not apply to those properties occupied by one or two students. This oversight would be rectified by my proposed amendment. Again, I thank the Government for recognising this and introducing their own amendments 226 and 228, which have addressed that problem.

As I come to my concluding remarks—at last—I wish to make some comment on amendment 10, which has not been selected.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. I have been listening carefully to what the hon. Gentleman has been saying. He has a range of amendments and it is perfectly in order for him to speak to those, but it is not in order for him to speak to amendment 10, because it has not been selected. Not only has it not been selected for a Division, but it has not been selected for debate. There might be a general point to which he could make reference, but he may not speak to amendment 10.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for being so generous in your explanation on that.

The problem that I see with this Bill is that, while the intent to remove section 21 is a good and necessary one—yes, it has taken time to get to this point—it is not one that those who have signed my amendment have ever objected to. The principle that explains why the amendments have been so widely supported is that there must be some leeway around ensuring that fixed-term tenancies can remain. Indeed, they still remain in certain instances within the student market.

Marcus Fysh Portrait Mr Marcus Fysh (Yeovil) (Con)
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My hon. Friend is making a powerful speech. Does he agree that it is in renters’ interests, more than anything else, to be able to agree tenancies longer than six months, in order to have security of tenure? If they have a young family, they will not want grounds such as sale to get in the way.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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My hon. Friend is right to make that point. In essence, the Bill forbids a contract being agreed with a date on which the tenant would have to leave the property. The noble Lord Hannan of Kingsclere pointed out in February in the other place that

“language matters in politics and tendentious phraseology has consequences. How have we reached the point where the expiry of a contract, freely entered into by two parties, at the end of its term is now widely referred to as an eviction, let alone a no-fault eviction?”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 20 February 2024; Vol. 836, c. 519.]

To be clear, the Bill will make it illegal to sign a fixed-term tenancy. The lack of clarity when describing the end of a contract has meant that we are now terming simple cessations of contracts as no-fault evictions. Who is at fault when a previously agreed contract comes to an end at a future date? No one. I believe that there are ways to retain fixed-term tenancies and scrap section 21.

Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas
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Will the hon. Gentleman concede that, although in principle it is perfectly possible to imagine a scenario where the tenant and landlord mutually agree to a set length of tenancy, the reality is that, because so many tenants are rushing for so few properties, the amount of free will that the tenant has in signing up to that contract is not very great? The idea of its being mutually agreeable is rather more suspect than the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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I come at it from a different angle: we are heaping so many rules and regulations on people, and making things so difficult, they are leaving the market as a result. This was one of the pioneering policies of Thatcher, bringing in the idea of the free market in property, and ensuring that millions of people across the country could realise the social value of having a buy-to-let property on a long-term basis. The hon. Lady will not agree with me; I do not think that we agree on very much. That is okay; it is good to be able to debate the issue, especially in this Chamber.

We must be honest about this: removing fixed-term tenancies is essentially the state telling individuals what they can and cannot do with their own private properties. It is conceivable to remove section 21 while retaining fixed-term tenancies. I have said that the Conservatives have long prided ourselves on being the party of free markets, and we should keep that in mind when we vote later. We are sending completely the wrong message, with dire consequences for future levels of housing supply. We are making an enormous mistake, which will reduce long-term lets in favour of short-term lets and result in many properties being taken off the rental market. I would hate to be back here, having to repeat the figures that I gave at the start of my remarks—in 2019, there were eight people for every one property; now there are 25—and say that the number is going up and up. I fear that, as a consequence of the Bill, that will happen.

Clive Betts Portrait Mr Betts
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The hon. Gentleman seems to be in favour of abolishing section 21, but then giving landlords the right to bring in fixed-term tenancies, which end with a section 21 notice. If the landlord chose, therefore, section 21 would not be abolished, would it? It would be a figment of our imagination here, because in practice it would never be delivered with his proposal.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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The hon. Gentleman is right to make that point, and he has far greater expertise in this area than I, but I am saying that we can retain fixed-term tenancies, scrap section 21 and amend other parts of the Bill. There is breach of contract. Indeed, we could make notice periods longer. I know that the Department discussed that idea when this was mooted after the 2019 election: we could scrap section 21 but increase the notice period for an eviction. Those are ways we could do it, but to throw the baby out with the bathwater and to become so restrictive on someone’s private property is a problem. People go into the buy-to-let market to let their property out, but unfortunately I think this Bill will have the opposite impact, pushing people out of the market who will no longer want to deal with the hassle.

16:17
Simon Jupp Portrait Simon Jupp (East Devon) (Con)
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My hon. Friend is making a fantastic speech and I commend him for all of his efforts on the Bill. One of the challenges is that sometimes our thinking about this issue is constrained to, for example, a metropolitan area. He and I both represent rural constituencies that are really affected by short-term holiday lets, and the unintended consequence of this Bill is that landlords will be pushed towards using those, because the rules and regulations will become so tight and constraining on long-term landlords. Does he agree?

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise that point, and it comes back to the question of trying to incentivise long-term lets over short- term lets. In rural constituencies in the south-west, we face a rising tide of short-term lets. However, we are not legislating on the basis of our own respective constituencies, but on a nationwide approach. We should look very carefully at other countries and other examples of where things have gone so badly wrong through, sometimes, the simplest tinkering of housing legislation: Scotland on rent controls might be one, and Finland or Berlin might be another. They are examples of things having been got horribly wrong.

Steve Brine Portrait Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con)
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I have been listening very carefully to an excellent contribution, as always, from my hon. Friend—they are lucky to have him in Totnes. Further to the intervention from our hon. Friend the Member for The Cotswolds (Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown), is my hon. Friend saying that the irony of this debate is that we are effectively legislating to no-fault evict tenants because we are pushing landlords out of the market through this legislation? Can he back that up with any more evidence that he has heard in his deliberations while creating this excellent speech?

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I will use my constituency as an example: I have seen a significant decline in the number of long-term lets over the last four-year period. They are going straight into short-term lets at a far greater cost, making renting totally unaffordable and leaving us to come up with innovative ways to supply the correct amount of rental properties for people who live and work in south Devon. I think that is also reflected in east Devon, in Yeovil in Somerset and, I am sure, in the Cotswolds.

I will finish by saying that I am grateful for the work Parliament has done on this. At no time do I think the Government have dragged their feet; at no time do I think they have tried to block me. By virtue of tabling quite so many amendments, I am probably responsible for some of that hold-up, and for that I apologise. Ultimately, however, it comes down to a belief in whether we are overreaching. I feel that this Bill is overreaching. There are ways we can help to ensure that the rights of tenants and landlords are enshrined and balanced, but removing fixed-term tenancies is a step too far for me—it will be significantly negative for the future rental market, and I will unfortunately have to vote against Third Reading.

Alex Sobel Portrait Alex Sobel (Leeds North West) (Lab/Co-op)
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The Renters (Reform) Bill had the potential to bring much-needed security and safety to renters, yet amendments to water it down, brought forward in Committee and even on Report, are a backward step that will significantly undermine the Bill’s intent. As an MP with one of the largest student populations in the country, I am all too aware that students are experiencing a housing crisis on top of a cost of living crisis. We have seen landlords asking students renters for guarantors, as well as for deposits of up to 100% of their annual rent, the criterion for which is that the guarantor must own a UK property.

That requirement has an impact on the accessibility to working-class students of private rented sector accommodation at their university. It also has an impact on the ability of care leavers and those estranged from their families to access higher education altogether, as well as that of international students who do not have family members with property in the UK. To mitigate that, I have tabled new clause 41, which seeks to end one of the most illogical parts of the rental process: guarantor schemes. The expectation that, despite entering into a legal contract that outlines the responsibility of the landlord and the tenant, a nominated individual takes responsibility for fulfilling the contract seems to undermine the purpose of the contract itself. My new clause seeks to tackle financial pressure on students, supporting the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield) to stop landlords from signing up tenants months before an academic year, which creates an arms race for student lets.

We must also consider those who have come through the care system or have become estranged from their parents, for whom living at home has never been an option. If students do not know a guarantor who owns a house in the UK, they may be stuck paying extra to a private company, paying six months’ rent or more up front, or being unable to rent at all. Guarantors are not expected for most people of the same age who are not students, so why is there this discrepancy for students?

An international postgraduate student at Leeds University told me:

“My only viable option was using the Guarantor service ‘Housing Hand’ which costs me an additional 50 pounds a month on top of rent and bills. I am a PhD student receiving the UKRI minimum stipend which is paid monthly.

The cost of living for food and rent alone is already difficult on this stipend and during final week before the stipend is paid each month I often struggle to maintain a healthy and balanced diet due to financial strain.

This is not only demoralising but effects my academic progress on a physical level as I am often hungry and unable to afford fresh fruit and vegetables which are a staple of my diet. It may not sound like much, but not having to pay for this guarantor service could make a considerable difference to my overall wellbeing on a monthly basis as this money could instead be used on fresh food.”

Research conducted by students from the Centre for Homelessness Impact found that just 36% of universities provide help on rent guarantors, that even fewer provide a rent guarantor service for students, and that, as universities themselves face financial issues, such a service will become more unlikely. Renting as a student is already an uphill struggle. We know, for example, that student accommodation prices have increased by 61% since 2012, and information from the National Union of Students UK shows us that two in five students have considered dropping out because of the cost of rent and bills. When we are trying to encourage people to attend our world-leading institutions, which strengthen the skills potential of our country’s workforce, why do we put up so many barriers?

Our universities are the UK’s strongest soft power. International students in particular are left with nothing but bad choices—they must either find a UK guarantor or pay six months’ rent or more up front to their landlord. As one student recently relayed to the all-party parliamentary group on students:

“International students often face more challenges than home students. We have heard stories of students paying months of rent upfront, only to find out they have been scammed and the place they thought they'd secured doesn’t even exist. We had one case where international students paid a whole year’s rent in advance, only to find out their landlord went bankrupt. While they eventually got their money back, the stress and uncertainty they went through was unbearable.”

The Bill was a welcome opportunity to rectify so many of the scandals in the private rented sector, yet there has clearly been a continued and concerted campaign to force the Government to create an unprecedented two-tier rental market in which students would be at the mercy of section 21 evictions that other tenants would be protected from.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill
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I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, as I am the owner of a single residential flat that is let out. I simply want to say that, in housing policy, we must always try to strike a balance between the legitimate interests and rights of tenants, and those of landlords, not all of whom are large corporations by any manner of means, and not of all whom make any great profit from those premises—they often operate at quite small margins—but who are a necessary part of the whole eco-structure. Equally, having served in local government for many years, I am conscious of the pressure that unwarranted evictions can place upon families and then upon local authorities, which have to pick up their housing duty towards those families. I believe that the Government are doing their level best in the Bill to get the right balance as far as that overall picture is concerned.

I want to speak in particular to Government new clause 30. We have already heard some rehearsal of the logic behind the new clause and the concerns about whether it will cause a delay to the abolition of section 21 evictions, as well as concern about the pressures on the county court. It is in that context, and wearing my hat as Chair of the Justice Committee, that I want to flag up to the House the inquiry that the Justice Committee is currently undertaking, and receiving evidence on, in relation to the work of the county court. I particularly welcomed the Minister’s commitment of £11 million to be transferred to the Ministry of Justice to carry out the assessment, because, of course, like local government and housing, the Ministry of Justice is an unprotected Department. It is also a downstream Department: either through the courts service or other parts of its work, it picks up many things that have gone wrong, whether elsewhere in our public services or in society as a whole. The courts system, including the civil courts and the county court in particular, is very much part of that: a great deal of social problems go through the county courts, and we know from all the evidence we are receiving that those county courts are under very great pressure.

As such, I support the new clause—but not because I want to delay the introduction of the reforms to the housing procedure that are envisaged, or the abolition of section 21 evictions as they currently exist, although as my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall) said, there may be other ways of striking the right balance that we could look at. I do not want to delay that reform, but we have to be frank and open about the pressure it will potentially put on what is already a strained county court system. If we are going to make those reforms—this applies to both parties—we need to will the means to make sure the county courts work as efficiently as they should do for all parties, whether landlords or tenants. That is the topic that I wanted to refer to some of the evidence on.

The overall picture, based on some 43 submissions that have been published on the Justice Committee’s website, is that of a very troubled situation as far as delays in the county court are concerned. There are delays in two areas that are germane to this debate: the first is the time it takes to see a possession action through the courts, and the second is enforcement, and particularly delays in getting bailiff appointments where necessary and then getting the enforcement carried out. There are real difficulties with both; it is fair to say that those difficulties vary across the country, but especially in many urban areas, there is considerable pressure. That is particularly acute in London and the south-east, where my constituency is.

Although the majority of those submissions came from landlords, they are based on data that I think is accepted and verified, whichever way one looks at this issue. The Large Agents Representation Group represents the largest letting and estate agents in London and the south-east. It has collected a deal of data, and it says in its submission that

“on average, the county court is taking approximately 276 working days to process a repossession claim from initial enquiry to a decision being given.”

Some of the other data that we get does not cover the whole of that process, which is why it is important to have the overall picture. That comes to an average of about 55 weeks, which does not include the enforcement time afterwards. That is unacceptable on both sides of the equation, so we need the resources to put that right.

Midland Heart, a housing association based in Birmingham—a well-established register of social landlords—says that

“typically, possession claims may take a minimum of 8 months, and sometimes up to 18 months, to conclude”.

The Hyde Group, another major social housing provider, said that

“the current level of delays is extreme and unacceptable”.

A number of those submissions also highlighted the serious delays in bailiffs executing warrants of possession when they are obtained under the current process. Of course, that is not unique to possession hearings: as has been observed, in some cases possession hearings proceed with more speed than other parts of the county court process, but they are still painfully slow in many areas. For example, we have had pretty clear evidence that there has been an increase in possession actions of roughly 16% from the equivalent quarter in 2019, before the pandemic. There was obviously a drop-off during the pandemic itself for a number of reasons, and as has been observed, the county court has done well to pick up the backlog that was created during the pandemic.

We ought to pay tribute to everybody in the county court: not just the judges, but the office staff who have worked phenomenally hard to try to turn that situation around. I hope all Members of this House will try to find the time to visit their local county court and see the work that is done by people on the admin side, who are often not the best-paid people in the public sector by any means. Indeed, recruitment and retention of staff in the county courts is itself a real challenge, which means that we must have continuing investment in those courts. I hope the assessment that the Lord Chancellor carries out under the terms of new clause 30 will help us to trigger greater investment and make the case for funding the county courts much better than it has been for many years under Governments, dare I say, of all political complexions.

16:30
To support that, I simply refer to some of the words of the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon. He repeatedly told us, when he gave his annual evidence to the Justice Committee, that there are problems with recruiting full-time district judges, the condition of the estate and, very importantly, the fact that the county court relies almost entirely upon paper-based systems to carry out its work. The Crown court and the High Court have been substantially digitised. His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service has an ambitious digitisation programme, but it has run slowly—behind its original intentions—and many of the proposed portals on the civil side are not yet in operation. The net result is that we are working on an analogue system in the county court, which deals with about 95% of the civil claims, and overwhelmingly the vast bulk of possession actions. To make this Bill work, we are going to have to invest in the system that enables possession, where appropriate, to be addressed with the proper safeguards to tenants.
Delays have also been caused—this is something the Government have to take on board—through the withdrawal of legal aid in housing cases. When we talked to the Association of His Majesty’s District Judges and others who gave evidence to us, we repeatedly heard that with more and more people appearing in person—not just tenants in possession actions, but very often smaller landlords, who may also not be able to afford the cost of a solicitor—hearings with litigants in person take much longer. They have to have more explained to them, and the hearing takes longer. The judge has to draft the orders, which would normally be drafted by the lawyers. Therefore, the productivity, particularly of the district judges, is reduced: they can deal with fewer cases in a sitting day. That is another reason why we need such a level of investment. To quote the evidence to us from the Association of His Majesty’s District Judges,
“the County Court has long been the poor relation of the justice system when it comes to technology.”
The other problem is with the recruitment of salaried full-time district judges, who are the vast bulk of the people who carry out this work. It is an MOJ issue, and as much as anything, this requires making the working conditions of those judges attractive and making sure that salaries are competitive, not that that problem does not exist at the high levels of the judiciary. Unless we have that, unless we have proper representation in these actions so that time is saved by lawyers honing the issues and enabling judges to deal with cases more quickly, and unless we have sufficient district judges recruited to hear the cases, we will not achieve the much swifter resolution of these issues that the Bill seeks to achieve.
There is also the issue of enforcement. The 2015 interim review of the structure of civil courts led by Lord Justice Briggs, as he then was, described enforcement as “the Achilles heel” of the civil justice system,
“or at least of the County Court.”
It is fair to say that, since 2016, the Government have made serious investment in His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service’s reform programme. Progress has been made, but it is fair to say that the ambition the Lord Chancellor set out in 2016 of transforming our justice system has not yet been achieved in the county court. I hope that we can use this debate as a signal that, if we are going to achieve the policy objectives, which I think the House is broadly agreed on, we have to will the means to the court system, because we cannot have efficient execution of policy without giving the means to the court system that carries it out. Legal rights, be they the rights of the tenant or of the landlord, are only as good as their ability to access the courts to uphold those rights in a timely fashion. Sadly, we not yet able to achieve that.
Finally, there many great people doing work in housing law, be it in the courts or behind the scenes. One of the great contributors to housing law in this country recently retired from the bench. His Honour Jan Luba KC may be known to some Members as one of the titans of housing law, both as a lawyer and as a judge. Jan recently retired as the designated civil judge for London. He had oversight over all London’s county courts. He has probably done more for housing law than anyone else I have come across. I hope that in retirement he will speak frankly about the pressures that his colleagues who are still working are under. That is my plea. If we want to make this Bill work, we have to use the assessment under new clause 30 as evidence of the need for sustained investment in our civil justice system.
Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas
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It is four months since the Bill concluded in Committee and five years since the Government promised to legislate for renters’ rights, so I start by saying that it is totally unacceptable that it has taken so long for the Renters (Reform) Bill to be on Report. It is deplorable for nearly a million renters to have been issued with section 21 eviction notices in England since the Government promised to abolish them, according to recent YouGov data. Renters have been badly let down by this delay, and aspects of the legislation before us continue to let them down.

My amendment 12 would require energy performance certificates for properties to be provided to the database operator and for the details to be recorded in the portal. This simple amendment would make a big difference. It would recognise that information is power and allow tenants to know whether the home they are about to rent will be damp and leaky or warm and efficient.

Amendment 12 also builds on the existing rules that require EPCs to be commissioned before properties are put on the market and for them to be clearly displayed in adverts in commercial media. Fairness and logic demand that renters should be able easily to compare energy efficiency information when considering properties to rent. A cold and damp home can end up costing renters dearly, both in high energy bills and health and wellbeing impacts.

Renters in cold and damp homes run an increased risk of problems associated with mould and of health conditions such as asthma and heart disease, as well as of poor mental health. We all know that the UK has some of the leakiest homes in Europe and that tenants are particularly exposed to high global gas prices, because the private rented sector is the least energy efficient of any tenure. A staggering quarter of renting households are living in fuel poverty today, so urgent action is essential to improve standards across the sector and to ensure that all renters have a warm and decent home in which to live.

It therefore beggars belief that the Prime Minister announced last September that he was scrapping the requirement to upgrade energy efficiency standards in private rented properties to EPC grade C. That was despite it being essential to deliver on our climate and fuel poverty targets. That upgrade would save tenants more than £250 a year, even at so-called normal prices, according to the Climate Change Committee. As well as harming renters, that regressive move was also contrary to the wishes of landlords, 80% of whom are in favour of stricter energy efficiency regulations.

My amendment 13 seeks to tackle the crippling private rents that so many people are paying. In Brighton and Hove, in which my constituency rests, a new study of more than 50,000 renters found that tenants in the city were spending a scandalous 56.9% of their pay on rent, making it the most expensive city in England in which to rent. As the Bill stands, the measures on rent increases are wholly inadequate. They rely on a resource-intensive and time-consuming appeals process that could even see tenants worse off at the end of it, because the tribunal would have the power to impose a higher rent than the one the tenant is appealing. That is frankly outrageous and goes directly against the promise made in the Secretary of State’s White Paper, which said:

“We will prevent the Tribunal increasing rent beyond the amount landlords initially asked for when they proposed a rent increase.”

Amendment 13 would simply make good that broken promise by ensuring that the rent payable after a tribunal determination can be no higher than the rent initially imposed by the landlord in the notice served on the tenant. One would have thought that that would be pretty straightforward. Given that the landlord is proposing that rent level in the first place, that must surely be the upper limit of what the tribunal can determine. The Secretary of State obviously understands that principle, since he put in in his own White Paper.

The removal of this commitment in the Bill shows the Government are determined to bend over backwards to tip the balance of power even further in favour of landlords. In short, amendment 13 would get rid of what seems to be a deliberate disincentive to discourage tenants from using the process that is supposed to protect them from unfair rent hikes. In the absence of a national system for rent controls with local flexibility, which is what we really need, amendment 13 is a modest rebalancing of the rent tribunal process, and I would welcome the Minister’s consideration and response in summing up the debate.

There is limited time in the debate, but I very much support the amendments seeking to prohibit evictions within two years of the beginning of a tenancy where the landlord wants to sell or move family in. As the Bill stands, tenants can be served two months’ notice just four months after a tenant has moved in, making a mockery of ministerial claims to improve security of tenure. I also sincerely hope that Ministers will accept amendment 14, which addresses the deeply concerning fact that the notice period for eviction under the new landlord grounds is just two months. This amendment extends it to four months in recognition of the huge difficulty many people face in finding somewhere suitable and affordable to rent when they are evicted, which, as we know, is a major cause of homelessness.

Neil O'Brien Portrait Neil O’Brien
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I have never been a landlord, but I have been a private renter and I greatly welcome some of the measures in the Bill as they would have helped me and other private renters a lot. I was offered some extraordinary properties when I was a private renter. I remember that one had dog mess all over the floor, while another in Elephant and Castle had bare wires hanging out of the wall and a gas cooker hanging off the wall. I welcome the extension of the decent homes standard to the private rented sector through this legislation, and it is striking how little controversy there has been about that given how big a deal it is. The proportion of private rented homes that have a major category 1 hazard in them has already come right down, from 24% when we came into office in 2010 to just 12% now, but that is still too high, and it is three times higher than in the social rented sector. So it is great that today we are pressing on with fixing this.

The Government amendments we are debating today are welcome. They strike a good balance between the interests of tenants and of landlords. For example, new clause 30, which makes the commencement of the end of no-fault evictions dependent on county courts being ready, is sensible. The slow recovery of the courts from the covid backlog has been frustrating, and there is a much wider question about how we can get rid of old-fashioned court practices that slow things down. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill), Chair of the Justice Committee, made important points about the paper-based nature still of a lot of what goes on there.

However, a lot of good ideas can be wrecked if we do not get the implementation just right and my hon. and learned Friend also mentioned that it currently takes about 55 weeks from commencement to possession, which is much too long. Although I agree with what we are doing here in terms of no-fault evictions, it is a big deal and it is right and reasonable that those who let out properties do at least know that they can rely on a slick and well-functioning court process before we bring this measure in. Even those on the Opposition Front Bench said the courts were recovering from the pandemic, rather than being fully recovered, so I think they recognise that up to a point as well.

The Government have made a range of other sensible reforms in the new clauses before us to ensure that there is fairness for landlords as well as tenants, including new clause 15 which gives those who let out properties some confidence in the first six months. There are the new student grounds as well, and I note that even landlord groups such as the National Residential Landlords Association are now saying we should get on with this legislation, so I think this is about right.

A large number of Government amendments are before us today, but the overall effect is to get a good balance in the legislation. I know some have concerns about the end of section 21, but many countries have a similar system and the sky has not fallen in. Germany, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands all banned no-fault evictions, and they have a higher share of private renting than us, and in the US and Canada states including California and Quebec do the same and the sky has not fallen in there either. Even Scotland has had this since 2017 and, again, although it has done some other things that are pretty unwise in terms of rent control, the sky has not fallen in.

Landlords will still be able to cite a lot of reasons to ensure that they can get their property back. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mrs Elphicke), who is not in her place, suggested that perhaps there were still too many, but I think it is essential that people can get their property back. The end of section 21 changes the balance a bit, recognising that it is no small thing to ask people to move homes.

There are more people living in the private rented sector with children these days, and it is hugely disruptive to have to move. I remember how, in a place that I was renting, we were all moved out because the landlord was supposedly going to do massive works, but he ended up installing about 1 square metre of linoleum and let the place out again for the same rent. It was just a huge amount of disruption to no particular end. For those in a more vulnerable position than I was, it is not a small thing to be asked to move home, so by ending section 21 but still enabling landlords to get control of their property when they need it, we are striking the right balance.

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The amendments that we are considering are not the end of the story. I felt a lot of sympathy for the comments made by the Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, the hon. Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts). He made some important points about estate regeneration. I also had some sympathy for the hon. Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson), who made some important points about defence estates and the like.
On the one hand, I understand the concerns of my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall), but on the other hand I also understand the concerns of others, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Dover, who worries that it is too easy to evict people. It is not easy to get the balance right, but in putting forward this suite of carefully judged amendments, the Government have done that. The Bill will make it fairer and more secure for people in the private rented sector, but it also treats landlords fairly. I think that is a fair balance.
Paul Blomfield Portrait Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) (Lab)
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While I respect the views of the hon. and learned Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill), who raised some valid points about the county court system and the pressures on it, as someone representing a large number of private renters, I must nevertheless express my concerns and share those raised by the shadow Minister and others about the Government’s failure to deliver on their promise on no-fault evictions. I rise, as chair of the all-party parliamentary group for students, to comment specifically on the proposals in relation to students, to support new clause 41, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel), and to speak to amendment 260, which stands in my name.

Students form a substantial part of the private rented sector. Back in July, the all-party parliamentary group organised a meeting to ensure that their views were heard. We brought together people from different nations of the UK and from all parts of the country. The Minister—sadly, he is not currently in his place—would have found it useful, because it highlighted a number of issues in the Bill that have not been properly thought through. I have discussed with the Minister the issues that came out of our meeting, and I am grateful to him for having found that time, but I want to share some reflections at this point in the Bill’s progress.

First, on the decision to extend grounds for eviction from purpose-built student accommodation to houses in multiple occupation and potentially to other student renters, there are mixed views across the country. Some are worried that exempting students makes them more attractive to less scrupulous landlords as potentially second-class, less protected tenants. Others, though, were concerned that giving students the same protection as other renters would force landlords to leave the student market, with that point made by landlords in areas where there was significant pressure on the housing market. Overall, we reached the same view as the Select Committee: on balance, the exemption is probably right, but it needs to be kept under review.

There is, however, a wider problem with the whole approach to students in the Bill. It seems that the Government have approached students with a one-size-fits-all model: they are undergraduates aged 18 to 21, living away from the parental home from the first time, and living there during term time only. However, students at our meeting were at pains to point out that they are not a homogeneous group. There are mature students who are renting in their home city and need to be there all the time, and students with families. Many courses do not start in September and are not on the cycle on which the Government’s amendments are premised. There are postgraduate taught programmes on a different, longer cycle. There are postgraduate research students on full-time programmes over several years, who are like any young professional. There are mixed households of students and non-students, particularly where groups of friends form and perhaps one member graduates.

I discussed all those variations with the Minister— I am glad to see him back in the Chamber—and his view was that any atypical student would simply not be subject to the exemption, partly because these issues have not been thought through properly. That might be in their favour because they will have greater protection, or it might leave them out in the cold because landlords will find them less attractive within the student market. Again, that emphasises the need to keep the impact of the student proposals under close review.

As the Minister resumes his seat I will move to my amendment 260, which raises a further issue that he referred to: the cycle of student tenancies, which I have discussed with him and on which he was sympathetic. When some of us were students, undergraduates would start university in September, settle in and make friendship groups, and towards the end of the academic year, after Easter, they would start looking for accommodation for the subsequent year. We have seen a landlord-driven arms race, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds North West referred to it, in which they have pressured students ever earlier in the year to enter into contracts for the subsequent academic year.

It is now the norm in many parts of the country that students starting a course in September are put under pressure by landlords the following month to enter into a contract for the following year. That forces them to pay a substantial deposit at a point in their life when they already have significant additional costs. It also forces them into joint tenancies with groups of people who they might discover later in the year are probably not who they want to live with in the subsequent year. Appeals to landlords to step out of the contract into which they entered are invariably rejected.

As the Government’s proposals are to regulate on the basis of that tenancy cycle, my proposition is that we try to make that cycle work better by saying that designated student contracts should not start sooner than March of the year in which students will take occupation in September. That would be in the interests of tenants, for the reasons that all of us who represent students will know. Setting a defined starting point will also end the arms race, in the interests of landlords.

Wera Hobhouse Portrait Wera Hobhouse
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The tendency that the hon. Gentleman refers to is not new. My daughter, who graduated in 2011 and therefore started in 2008, was already under that pressure. He is right that for a lot of young people it is incredibly difficult to find a group of people they want to live with the following year within a month of arriving at university. His proposals are commendable and I hope the Government are listening.

Paul Blomfield Portrait Paul Blomfield
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I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. It does vary in different parts of the country, but the way in which it has come earlier and earlier each year, to the ludicrous position where students are being forced into contracts for the subsequent year almost at the moment they start their first year, clearly needs to be addressed. As I said, I have discussed this issue with the Minister. When we talked about it he seemed sympathetic, so I hope it is an issue we can address as the Bill progresses.

Wera Hobhouse Portrait Wera Hobhouse
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Before I start my remarks, I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

My amendments—amendments 39 to 41—all refer to the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. I have raised this issue with the Government for the past two years, after one of my constituents, who is a lecturer in law at Bristol University, came to me with his concerns. To be fair to the Government, the Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the hon. Member for Kensington (Felicity Buchan), had a meeting with that group of academics, but then I heard nothing, which was a little bit disappointing. I have, just this afternoon, received a reply from the Minister. I thank him for that, but it was dated yesterday and only sent to me today. I will look at it very carefully, but it is still important that I raise here what I have to say.

There are two parts to amendment 39, which relates to the law on harassment of a residential occupier. At the moment, the law is complex and confusing, particularly for lay people, and difficult to enforce. I have glanced over the response from the Minister. The Government believe that there is currently enough power of enforcement. As I understand it, the 1977 Act is quite unknown. Local authorities and the police do not know enough about it. I wonder how we can work in that space to ensure that any unintended consequences brought in by the new legislation will not allow rogue landlords, or those who do not want to do the right thing, and refer them to other pieces of legislation.

First, the amendment would change the law so that everyone who is harassing a residential occupier to try to get them to move out of the property is subject to the same law. Currently, if a criminal landlord is harassing the tenant, the law is fairly clear. However, it might be another individual who is harassing the tenant to get them to move out. In this case, the local authority has to try to find out whether the person doing the harassing is an agent acting for the rogue landlord.

There is also often deliberate obscurity about the identity of the landlord. Investigating the relationship between individuals to establish their precise legal relationship is time consuming and unnecessary, where the aim of the legislation is to protect residential occupiers from harassment. The amendment changes the law to make enforcement easier for local authorities. The change will not affect the position of landlords. They will continue to be subject to the same law. It is only the local authority that can prosecute this offence, and it would still need to prove that a rogue landlord, their agent or any other person knew, or had reasonable cause to believe, that their actions would have the result of causing the occupier to leave.

The other thing that the amendment would do is clarify the law. Currently, if a rogue landlord interferes with services that are reasonably required for the occupation of the premises as a household, that can constitute harassment. However, it is not clearly stated what those services are—I can think of essential services, such as electricity, cutting the water off or even changing the locks—so it is important that we take that into consideration. We are not talking about decent landlords, as I have always made very clear. It is about getting to those landlords who are clearly not doing the right thing.

As I said, it is not clearly stated what the services are. Amendment 39 sets out a list of such services, including water, gas and electricity, as well as access to “electronic communications networks and services” as defined in section 32 of the Communications Act 2003.

Amendment 40 deals with three issues. First, the law on whether certain occupiers are protected by the legislation on illegal eviction is very complex, and it can be very difficult to establish. That is because some occupiers—for example, those who live with the landlord—are excluded from the protections in the law and can therefore be evicted without a notice or court order. That creates an incentive for sham arrangements whereby a rogue landlord might pretend to live with a tenant to circumvent the protections in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. The amendment reverses the burden of proof, placing it on the landlord, who must establish that an occupier is not protected by the law. It is based on the idea that everyone has the basic protection of the law unless they are in an exclusionary category for a good reason. The presumption should be that they are protected.

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Secondly, one of the biggest problems faced by residential occupiers and prosecutors is identifying the landlord. The current law encourages behaviour that obscures the identity of landlords, and the Bill does not address that. Proposed new section 4A would amend the 1977 Act so that there is a “rebuttable presumption” in any action under that Act that the person to whom the residential occupier pays rent is the landlord of the property. The words
“other payments in respect of occupation of a dwelling”
are taken from the Housing Act 2004.
There have been extensive complaints from local authorities and others that police ignorance of the law does not assist, and at times obstructs, the effective prosecution of offences under the 1977 Act. Proposed new section 7A would amend the Act to require police officers who become aware of potential offences of illegal eviction and harassment to notify the relevant local authority. It also adds a power for police to assist the local authority in its investigation and prosecution of offences under the Act.
Amendment 41 seeks to amend the Housing and Planning Act 2016. It would lower the standard of proof required for making a rent repayment order relating to illegal eviction or harassment. In other rent repayment applications, proving the offence is much more straightforward: for example, the landlord may not have a licence. Proving illegal eviction or harassment is considerably more challenging for applicants, and as a result of that difficulty, applications for repayment orders for breach of the 1977 Act often fail. The amendment would bring that test into line with the test used by the county courts to determine damages for illegal eviction or harassment.
All this is pretty technical and legal stuff that I took up because I thought that my constituent had a very fair point. The Minister has now sent me a response, for which I thank him. I will study it carefully in deciding whether I want to pursue this issue, and whether the amendment should be tabled in the other place.
Helen Hayes Portrait Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab)
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I rise to speak in support of new clause 40, which stands in my name, but before I do so I will say a little about the Bill more generally.

Legislative reform of private renting is urgently needed. My constituency is in the eye of the storm of the housing crisis, and every year since 2010 the situation has worsened. The waiting list for a genuinely affordable social home has become longer, the number of people living in temporary accommodation has become higher, and private sector rents have continued to spiral. Despite many promises, the Government have delayed action for far too long. Private renters, housing campaigners, charities and Members from across this House are united in their support for bold reform of private renting. But now, after years of delay, we see a Government unable to deliver the effective and urgently needed reforms that were promised, because they are too weak to face down their own Back Benchers.

At the heart of the matter is the urgent need for an end to section 21 evictions, which I have been calling for since the debates on the Housing and Planning Act 2016. Section 21 is the basis of insecurity in private renting, because it gives landlords the ability to evict tenants for no reason at all. Time and again, I have seen in my constituency how section 21 is used egregiously to ratchet up rents and to stop tenants complaining about basic repairs or safety issues, such as damp and mould. Because a section 21 eviction does not need to be justified with a reason, all the power is in the hands of the landlord. Tenants live with the daily threat that they will be told to leave their home, with all that that entails, such as having to find a new home as rent costs continue to rise.

In a housing crisis characterised by an acute shortage of genuinely affordable social housing, private renting is a form of tenure on which millions of people rely. They must have a degree of security so that they can put down roots, know that their children will be able to remain at the local school, and live without insecurity and the constant fear that they may have to move. Section 21 is destabilising for families and communities. It is therefore beyond disappointing that the Bill will not result in an immediate end to section 21, and that the Secretary of State cannot give a date for when it will end.

The reason for the delay is the shocking mess that the Government have made of the court system. My constituents, who used to be able to attend Lambeth county court, now have to travel to Shoreditch, because the court was closed in 2017. When we challenged the closure of Lambeth county court on the grounds that it would involve a much more complicated and costly journey for constituents facing eviction who wished to attend court, we were promised digital reforms of the court service. We were promised investment in infrastructure to make hearings accessible to anybody who had to attend court, and to ease the complexity of the distance and journey time being increased, but no such investment has been forthcoming. Legal aid lawyers in my constituency who work in the courts speak of the chaos, the crumbling infrastructure and the overburdening workload falling on staff, yet this is the excuse today for why section 21 evictions cannot be brought to an end.

New clause 40, which I tabled, arises from a tragedy that happened to a family in my constituency. Their son, a first-year university student, had signed a tenancy agreement on a house for his second year. In common with parents of university students across the country, his parents were the guarantors for his tenancy, but before their son had finished his first year at university and the tenancy had even started, he tragically died by suicide. Faced with one of the most terrible tragedies that any of us can imagine, these bereaved parents were then pursued by their late son’s letting agent for the rent he would have owed on a tenancy that he would never take up. I wrote to the letting agency several times on behalf of my constituents, but it refused to budge. It maintained that a contract was a contract and that my constituents were liable as the guarantors, so they would just have to pay. Surely we in this House can agree that a contractual provision that financially penalises bereaved parents for the suicide of their child is straightforwardly wrong.

After I raised that case during Prime Minister’s questions, I was contacted by a number of families who had signed guarantor agreements on similar contracts, but also by a number of landlords and letting agents who said that they did not use such clauses in their tenancy and guarantor agreements. This demonstrates that such clauses are simply not necessary. Loss of rental income due to the death of a tenant is an insurable risk for landlords, and it should be a matter for insurance, not for bereaved guarantors.

I am grateful to the Minister for meeting me to discuss new clause 40, but I am baffled by the Government’s response, which is to suggest limiting the obligations of a bereaved guarantor to two months, including during the proposed six-month minimum commitment at the start of a new tenancy. While two months’ rent is clearly preferable to six months or a year’s worth of rent, it is still quite literally a financial penalty for the death of a loved one. Bereavement is one of the hardest things anyone can experience, and the Government should use the powers at their disposal to provide comfort, security and peace of mind to the bereaved so that they can focus on grieving the loss of their loved one. It is simply not fair for bereaved guarantors to be charged for the rent that their loved one is no longer alive to pay, and it is not necessary because the loss of rental income due to the death of a tenant is an insurable risk.

New clause 40 would bring this practice to an end and give peace of mind to guarantors that, should the unthinkable happen, they will not have to find hundreds or even thousands of pounds as they grieve. The Minister has said that he will continue to reflect on this issue. I urge him to do the right thing and to accept new clause 40 into the Bill. It is a simple measure that would prevent anyone else from experiencing the additional distress that my constituents suffered when their son passed away. This new clause has not been selected for a separate decision today, but I will continue to pursue this reform. It is the right thing to do. I urge the Government to look again at this issue. It is a reform that would cost the Government nothing, but it would give peace of mind to anybody facing bereavement, as my constituents have had to do, that egregious landlords and letting agencies will not come after them for a cost that they may not be able to afford at a time when they need help, support and comfort, not additional financial penalties.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
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I thank right hon. and hon. Members for their contributions to the debate and for their ongoing engagement throughout the Bill’s passage. I will respond to some of the issues raised during the debate, but I might not be able to respond to all of them in the time remaining.

I will start by addressing the points made by the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook) and the amendments tabled by the Opposition. As I said in my opening speech, I thank him and others on the Labour Front Bench for their continued engagement and their support for the Bill. I believe that we share the ambition to see the Bill on the statute book as soon as possible.

New clause 10 would extend Awaab’s law to the private rented sector. The tragic and avoidable death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak is the most shocking reminder of the danger of damp and mould. I am clear that no tenant should have to live in dangerous housing conditions, but our approach to tackling this issue must reflect the differences between the social and private rented sectors. Awaab’s law was designed for social housing. Most social landlords manage large portfolios and have dedicated repair and maintenance teams, enabling them to tackle issues to specific timeframes. In contrast, the vast majority of private landlords own a small number of properties, with 82% of landlords having fewer than five properties and 43% owning just one.

The Bill takes a different and, I believe, more suitable approach to ensuring that private tenants have safe homes. It gives councils powers to immediately fine private landlords up to £5,000 if their properties are dangerously unsafe. It also introduces a decent homes standard for the first time and a new means of redress through the ombudsman. We will publish statutory guidance for councils on enforcement, and we will explore how this guidance can strengthen the onus on private landlords to deal promptly with tenant complaints about hazards, including for larger institutional private landlords that may have resources similar to those of social landlords. Amendment 28, which the hon. Gentleman spoke to, would remove section 21 immediately upon Royal Assent. This would mean there is no transition period, as is currently planned, leaving no time at all for landlords, letting agents, tenant groups and local authorities to adjust to the new system. There would be no time to conclude the necessary secondary legislation, leaving the statute book a confusing mess.

Importantly, without having the new possession grounds in place, amendment 28 would prevent landlords from regaining possession of their property even where they have a legitimate reason to do so, which the new grounds reflect. Landlords could not repossess to sell their property or to deal effectively with antisocial behaviour or repeat rent arrears. Most concerningly of all, temporary and supported accommodation would not have access to the critical new grounds, which would have an immediate impact by clogging up those sectors.

Although it might seem appealing and sound good to say, “Let’s just abolish it on Royal Assent,” amendment 28 would create chaos in the sector. It is far better for tenants and landlords alike if we ensure that the change happens in an orderly way. For those reasons, I ask the hon. Gentleman not to press his amendment.

Amendment 37, tabled by the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Helen Morgan) and given voice today by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson), seeks to bring accommodation provided by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation into scope of the decent homes standard. I make it clear that everyone deserves a safe and decent home, none more so than the heroes who serve in our armed forces. Although 96% of service family accommodation already meets the decent homes standard, bringing such accommodation within scope could provide a further safeguard to ensure that all service personnel and their families have a home of the quality they deserve. We therefore strongly agree with the intent of the amendment.

Service family accommodation has unique features, however, including a significant portion being located on secure military sites where there will be issues around security and access for inspections. This would create a challenge in applying and enforcing the decent homes standard. The Government intend to ensure that service accommodation meets the decent homes standard, while recognising that work is needed to determine the appropriate monitoring and reporting arrangements given the unique nature of this accommodation. My Department will therefore work closely with the Ministry of Defence to explore these challenges and how we can best ensure that there are strong safeguards for service personnel and their families that work effectively in practice.

I assure the hon. Members for Twickenham and for North Shropshire that we are seriously considering this issue, and that the Minister for Defence Procurement and I intend to meet the hon. Member for North Shropshire in the coming weeks to discuss these issues in more detail before the Bill is in Committee in the Lords. I therefore ask her not to press her amendment.

New clause 12 and amendments 43 to 47, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), seek to extend the core blanket ban provision in chapter 3 to care leavers. I am grateful to him for raising the important issue of care-experienced young people’s ability to rent a home in the private rented sector. The Government have already reserved a power in the Bill to extend blanket ban provisions to additional cohorts in future, should we find evidence that it is needed. This power could be used to extend the provisions to care-experienced people if evidence suggests that it would be effective.

Helping care leavers to make a successful transition from care to independence is a priority for this Government, and we recognise that care leavers can face significant barriers to securing and maintaining affordable housing, including providing a guarantor or rent in advance. We are already seeking to improve care leavers’ access to housing, as set out in the “stable homes, built on love” strategy, which sits alongside existing duties owed to care leavers by local councils as corporate parents.

Furthermore, we understand that at least 78 councils have passed motions granting care leavers the same protected characteristic status as other cohorts under the Equality Act 2010 in their local area. I am happy to continue working with my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham to hear the challenges that care-experienced people face and how we can make private rented accommodation more accessible to them.

I can confirm to my hon. Friend that the measures to prohibit blanket bans on the basis that a child will live with or visit a person at a property include foster children and, in response to the hon. Member for Twickenham, kinship carers. Landlords and letting agents will not be able to discriminate against potential tenants on the basis that they foster children. No further legal provisions are needed to do this. More broadly, during this spending review we are investing over £36 million in a foster carer programme and a foster carer recruitment and retention programme. That is the largest ever investment in fostering in England. For that reason, I ask my hon. Friend to withdraw his amendment.

New clause 39, proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mrs Elphicke), effectively requires landlords to compensate tenants when using any possession grounds found in schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 within two years, other than ground 7A or ground 14. While I appreciate the intent behind my hon. Friend’s amendment, I do not agree that landlords should be made to pay compensation to tenants when they have a legitimate reason to evict. Landlords looking to move into or sell their property, or dealing with tenants in rent arrears, may find themselves to be in financial difficulty too, and the change proposed by the amendment could exacerbate that.

Amendment 257 seeks to tighten the breach of tenancy grounds, so that a tenant can be evicted if the tenancy breach impacts the wellbeing of other tenants or neighbours, or could cause material damage to the property beyond what would be covered by a tenancy deposit. As I have indicated to my hon. Friend the Member for Dover previously, I am sympathetic to the intention behind her amendment but it could have adverse consequences. For example, significant breaches of a tenancy agreement, such as subletting, may not lead to an eviction if they were proven to not have a material impact on other housemates or immediate neighbours.

I am also concerned about the impact on existing contracts, signed between landlord and tenant on the basis that this ground would be available. I assure my hon. Friend that ground 12 is discretionary, meaning that a judge will consider whether the ground has been met and whether the possession is reasonable in each case. We therefore think it is unlikely that a tenant would be evicted for minor breaches. I will seek to clarify in guidance when this ground ought to be used. I am happy to explore what more could be done in legislation to ensure tenants are not unfairly evicted for minor and unfair breaches to their tenancy agreement. For those reasons, I ask my hon. Friend to withdraw her amendment.

Turning to proposed new clause 40, the hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Helen Hayes) set out a deeply moving and tragic case in her consistency. I am grateful to her for meeting me yesterday to discuss the case. New clause 40 would prevent guarantors being held liable for rent after a tenant’s death. The hon. Lady has campaigned on the issue for some time and I appreciate her work on it. By moving to a system of periodic tenancy, tenants and their estates will no longer be locked in after the first six months. In the event of a bereavement, the tenant’s representative would be able to serve two months’ notice to end the tenancy and end the guarantor’s liability. Attempts to hold a guarantor liable for rent past the end of the tenancy would be in breach of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 and a landlord could be fined for doing so. I am aware that our new six-month term may mean guarantors being held liable for longer. That is why we have committed to looking at an exemption where a tenant tragically dies, as I discussed with hon. Lady yesterday, so that a notice can be served in the usual way. For that reason, I ask the hon. Lady to withdraw her amendment.

Turning to the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall), in his speech he acknowledged that the Government have accepted not one but almost all his amendments. I regret that he still feels opposed to the Bill overall, but I hope he will reconsider his position having listened to the debate and heard the significant changes we have made. He mentioned Margaret Thatcher’s reforms of the 1980s. Her reforms sought to smash a disastrous system of sitting tenants, where landlords were blocked from moving into or selling their homes, or were forced to let their properties below market rents. Our reforms build on her reforms. Landlords will still have a mandatory right to move into or sell their homes. Nothing in our Bill introduces rent caps, despite calls from Opposition parties and the Mayor of London.

Five years ago, the late James Brokenshire, as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, promised that we would abolish section 21 evictions. Eight months later, every English Member of this House stood on manifestos to abolish section 21. In 2022, we published the White Paper into how we would reform the tenancy system. In 2023, we brought forward this Bill, which gave the White Paper legislative form. And today, we have the opportunity to move forward a Bill that strikes the right balance between security for tenants and fairness for landlords.

For tenants, this Bill abolishes section 21 evictions and moves to a more flexible system of periodic tenancies for all. It applies a new decent homes standard to the private rented sector for the first time and outlaws blanket bans on tenants with children, or those on benefits. It gives renters a legal right to request a pet. It also expands the homelessness prevention duty to protect vulnerable tenants. Together, these changes will give tenants the opportunity to put down roots in their communities, their children in local schools and to live in a secure home.

For landlords, the Bill strengthens possession grounds, giving landlords certainty that they can get their property back. It provides stronger protections in cases of antisocial behaviour and repeated non-payment of rent, and protections for the student market and rural communities. Tenants will have to give two months’ notice to leave a tenancy instead of one, and we are making improvements to the court system to ensure that they can properly support the new system.

The new private rented sector ombudsman will also help prevent issues escalating to the courts, offering quicker and cheaper resolution to disputes. And the new property portal will provide a one-stop shop for landlords to understand requirements and to demonstrate compliance.

Above all, the Bill delivers for landlords and tenants, because it drives out the bad actors in the system. That is what we aim to do—to build a sector that gives tenants security and protections, and landlords fairness, not pitting one against the other, but working with both to drive out the bad actors.

This Bill is the culmination of years of work in a sector that has not seen meaningful change in three decades. I ask all Members to join me and back the Bill tonight.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

17:26

Division 137

Ayes: 283


Conservative: 278
Independent: 1

Noes: 143


Labour: 133
Independent: 5
Democratic Unionist Party: 2
Workers Party of Britain: 1
Green Party: 1

New clause 15 read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 30
Assessment of operation of possession process
“(1) The Lord Chancellor must prepare an assessment of the operation of the process by which—
(a) on applications made by landlords, the county court is able to make orders for the possession of dwellings in England that are let under assured and regulated tenancies, and
(b) such orders are enforced.
(2) The Lord Chancellor must publish the assessment at such time, and in such manner, as the Lord Chancellor thinks appropriate.
(3) In this section—
‘assured tenancy’ means an assured tenancy within the meaning of the 1988 Act;
‘dwelling’ means a building or part of a building which is occupied or intended to be occupied as a separate dwelling;
‘regulated tenancy’ means a regulated tenancy within the meaning of the Rent Act 1977.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause, which is expected to be added to Part 5 of the Bill, requires the Lord Chancellor to assess the operation of the county court possession order process in England, and its enforcement. The extended application date cannot be set for Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the Bill until the assessment has been published: see new clause NC28(5).
Brought up, and read the First time.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.
17:41

Division 138

Ayes: 287


Conservative: 282
Independent: 1

Noes: 144


Labour: 136
Independent: 5
Democratic Unionist Party: 2
Workers Party of Britain: 1
Green Party: 1

New clause 30 read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 13
Sections 1 and 2: effect of superior leases
“(1) Where, immediately before the commencement date, the lessee under an existing lease of premises that consist of or include a dwelling—
(a) could sub-let the dwelling under a fixed term assured tenancy without breaching the lease, but
(b) could not sub-let the dwelling under a relevant assured tenancy without breaching the lease,
the lease has effect on and after the commencement date as if it provided that the lessee may sub-let the dwelling under a relevant assured tenancy in the same circumstances and on the same terms as the lessee could previously sub-let it under a fixed term assured tenancy, except so far as it would be inconsistent with any provision made by or under this Act for the lease to have effect in that way.
(2) Where, immediately before the commencement date, the lessee under an existing lease of premises that consist of or include a dwelling—
(a) could sub-let the dwelling under an assured shorthold tenancy without breaching the lease, but
(b) could not sub-let the dwelling under a relevant assured tenancy without breaching the lease,
the lease has effect on and after the commencement date as if it provided that the lessee may sub-let the dwelling under a relevant assured tenancy in the same circumstances and on the same terms as the lessee could previously sub-let it under an assured shorthold tenancy, except so far as it would be inconsistent with any provision made by or under this Act for the lease to have effect in that way.
(3) Where—
(a) an existing lease which is—
(i) periodic, or
(ii) a fixed term lease of a term certain not exceeding 21 years,
is modified by subsection (1) or (2),
(b) a dwelling is sub-let under the lease on a tenancy (entered into before or after the commencement date) which is (or becomes on or after that date, by virtue of this Act or otherwise) a relevant assured tenancy, and
(c) the tenancy was entered into in accordance with the terms of the lease as they stood when the tenancy was entered into (or, if it was not, the breach has been waived by the landlord),
the existing lease has effect as if it provided that a failure by the lessee at the end of the lease to return the premises to the landlord free from the relevant assured tenancy does not constitute a breach of the lease.
(4) Subsection (5) applies where, immediately before the commencement date, the lessee under an existing lease of premises that consist of or include a dwelling could sub-let the dwelling under a relevant assured tenancy without breaching the lease.
(5) On and after the commencement date, the circumstances in which and terms on which the lessee may so sub-let the dwelling remain the same as they were immediately before the commencement date, except so far as that would be inconsistent with provision made by or under this Act.
(6) Nothing in this section alters the effect of an existing lease, before the extended application date (within the meaning given by section (Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(3)), in relation to a sub-tenancy that is an existing tenancy (within the meaning given by section (Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(2)).
(7) Nothing in this section prevents an existing lease from being varied by the parties to it.
(8) The Secretary of State may by regulations disapply or modify the effect of this section in relation to existing leases of a specified description.
(9) Where the Secretary of State makes regulations under subsection (8) disapplying the effect of this section, the fact that this section has previously applied in relation to an existing lease does not prevent the exercise of the powers in section 117(4)(b) in relation to the lease.
(10) In this section—
“assured shorthold tenancy” is to be read in accordance with Part 1 of the 1988 Act as it had effect immediately before the commencement date;
“the commencement date” has the meaning given by section (Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(1)(a);
“dwelling” means a “dwelling-house” within the meaning of Part 1 of the 1988 Act (see section 45 of that Act) in England;
“existing lease” means a lease which is entered into before the commencement date or under a contract entered into before that date;
“relevant assured tenancy” means a periodic assured tenancy which is not an assured shorthold tenancy and in relation to which each of the rent periods is a period of—
(a) 28 days or less, or
(b) 1 month;
“sub-letting” includes sub-letting under any inferior lease.
(11) In this section references to a lease, and to the terms of a lease, include references to—
(a) the terms of any agreement relating to the lease, and
(b) any document or communication from the landlord which gives or refuses consent for sub-letting in relation to a category or description of sub-tenancy.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause ensures that where, under a lease that was granted before (or under a contract made before) implementation of Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the Bill, a person can sub-let a dwelling on a fixed term or assured shorthold tenancy, the person will continue to be able to sub-let the dwelling even though those tenures have been abolished.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 14
Powers of Secretary of State in connection with Chapter 1
“(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend provision made by or under an Act passed before or later in the same session as this Act so that the provision has effect in relation to periodic assured tenancies in a manner that corresponds or is similar to the manner in which it had effect immediately before the commencement date in relation to—
(a) fixed term assured tenancies, or
(b) assured shorthold tenancies.
(2) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend provision made by or under an Act passed before or later in the same session as this Act so that the provision has effect, in relation to a ground in Schedule 2 to the 1988 Act as amended by this Act, in a manner that corresponds or is similar to the manner in which it had effect immediately before the commencement date in relation to any ground in that Schedule.
(3) The amendments that may be made under subsection (1)(b) include any to ensure that provision applying immediately before the commencement date in relation to notices under section 21 of the 1988 Act applies on and after that day, with or without modifications, in relation to notices under section 8 of that Act.
(4) The transitional provision that may be included in regulations under subsection (1) or (2) by virtue of section 112(1)(a) includes provision for pre-application instruments which the Secretary of State considers do not (or will not) operate appropriately as a result of any provision of the regulations to—
(i) have effect with specified modifications, or
(ii) cease to have effect (in whole or in part).
(5) For the purposes of subsection (4)—
(a) “pre-application instrument” means an agreement or other instrument made before the regulations come into force;
(b) the circumstances in which the Secretary of State may consider that a pre-application instrument does not operate appropriately as a result of regulations under subsection (1) or (2) include (but are not limited to) those in which—
(i) as a result of any provision of the regulations, provision made by the instrument is to any extent spent, obsolete, unnecessary or otherwise not of practical utility;
(ii) as a result of any provision of the regulations, it is unclear what the effect is of provision made by the instrument;
(iii) as a result of any provision of the regulations, a person may be placed in breach of obligations arising under the instrument or made subject to more burdensome obligations under the instrument;
(iv) the instrument makes direct or indirect reference to any enactment as it had effect before being amended by the regulations.
(6) Regulations made by virtue of subsection (4) must provide that they do not prevent—
(a) the variation or revocation of provision modified by the regulations, or
(b) the re-making of provision that has ceased to have effect as a result of the regulations.
(7) Regulations made by virtue of subsection (4) may apply to an instrument as it has effect in relation to times before the coming into force of the regulations but after the commencement date.
(8) Nothing in this Chapter limits the provision that may be made by regulations under this section.
(9) Nothing in this section limits the provision that may be made in regulations under Part 5.
(10) In this section—
“assured shorthold tenancy” is to be read in accordance with Part 1 of the 1988 Act as it had effect immediately before the commencement date;
“the commencement date” has the meaning given by section (Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(1)(a).” —(Jacob Young.)
This new clause provides that, where rights or duties under legislation (for example those of tenants or landlords) refer to fixed term assured tenancies and/or assured shorthold tenancies, or to possession grounds, regulations can ensure that the rights or duties are not jeopardised by the new regime under the Bill, and can modify existing instruments that would not operate appropriately alongside the regulations.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 16
Power of Welsh Ministers to extend protection to persons of other descriptions
“(1) The Welsh Ministers may by regulations make provision in relation to occupation contracts, in relation to persons of another description, corresponding (with or without modifications) to provision made by this Chapter in relation to persons who would have a child live with or visit them or are benefits claimants.
(2) Regulations under subsection (1) may amend, repeal or revoke provision made by or under—
(a) an Act, or
(b) an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru,
whenever passed or made.
(3) In this section—
‘benefits claimant’ has the meaning given by section 8J of the Renting Homes (Fees, Discrimination etc.) (Wales) Act 2019;
‘occupation contract’ has the same meaning as in the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (see section 7 of that Act).”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause reproduces the substance of section 8J removed by amendment 107 in the Bill, so that it applies in relation to the provisions inserted into the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 as well and it extends the power to allow amendment of any Act or Measure. It is expected to go into Chapter 4.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 17
Power of Secretary of State to extend protection to persons of other descriptions: Wales
“The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision that the Welsh Ministers could make under section (Power of Welsh Ministers to extend protection to persons of other descriptions)(1) but for the limitation in section 40.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause gives the Secretary of State power to make any provision extending the protections against discrimination in Wales in relation to occupation contracts that the Welsh Ministers cannot make because it is outside the Senedd’s legislative competence.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 18
Prohibition of discrimination relating to children or benefits status: Scotland
“(1) The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 (asp 19) is amended in accordance with subsections (2) to (4).
(2) After section 6 insert—
‘Part 1A
Choice of tenant
6A Offence of discriminating in relation to children
(1) It is an offence for a relevant person to, in relation to a property that is to be let on an agreement which may give rise to a private residential tenancy—
(a) prevent a person, on the basis that the relevant person believes that the property would or may be used by a child if the property were the person’s home, from—
(i) enquiring whether the property is available for let,
(ii) accessing information about the property,
(iii) viewing the property in order to consider whether to seek to rent it, or
(iv) entering into a tenancy of the property, or
(b) apply a provision, criterion or practice in order to make people who would allow the property to be used by a child less likely to enter into a tenancy of the property than people who would not.
(2) It is a defence for the relevant person to show—
(a) that the conduct is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, or
(b) that the property is insured under an excluded contract of insurance and the conduct is a means of preventing the insured from breaching the term which causes the contract to be an excluded contract of insurance.
(3) Conduct does not constitute an offence under subsection (1) if it consists only of—
(a) things done by a person who does nothing in relation to the property other than one or more of the following things—
(i) publishing advertisements or disseminating information,
(ii) providing a means by which a prospective landlord can communicate directly with a prospective tenant,
(iii) providing a means by which a prospective tenant can communicate directly with a prospective landlord, or
(b) things of a description, or things done by a person of a description, specified for the purposes of this section in regulations made by the Scottish Ministers.
(4) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(5) For the purpose of this section—
(a) a property is used by a child if a child lives with or visits a person at the property,
(b) a contract of insurance is an excluded contract of insurance if—
(i) section (Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland) of the Renters (Reform) Act 2024 (Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland) does not apply to it, and
(ii) it contains a term which makes provision (however expressed) requiring the insured to prohibit a tenant under a private residential tenancy from allowing a child to use the property, or to restrict the circumstances in which such a tenant may allow a child to do so.
6B Offence of discriminating in relation to benefits status
(1) It is an offence for a relevant person to, in relation to a property that is to be let on an agreement which may give rise to a private residential tenancy—
(a) prevent a person, on the basis of the person’s benefits status, from—
(i) enquiring whether the property is available for let,
(ii) accessing information about the property,
(iii) viewing the property in order to consider whether to seek to rent it, or
(iv) entering into a tenancy of the property, or
(b) apply a provision, criterion or practice in order to make people who are or who, if the property were their home, may become benefits claimants less likely to enter into a tenancy of the property than people who are not.
(2) It is a defence for the relevant person to show that the property is insured under an excluded contract of insurance and the conduct is a means of preventing the insured from breaching the term which causes the contract to be an excluded contract of insurance.
(3) Conduct does not constitute an offence under subsection (1) if it consists only of—
(a) things done by a person who does nothing in relation to the property other than one or more of the following things—
(i) publishing advertisements or disseminating information,
(ii) providing a means by which a prospective landlord can communicate directly with a prospective tenant,
(iii) providing a means by which a prospective tenant can communicate directly with a prospective landlord, or
(b) things of a description, or things done by a person of a description, specified for the purposes of this section in regulations made by the Scottish Ministers.
(4) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(5) For the purpose of this section—
(a) something is done on the basis of a person’s benefits status if it is done on the basis that the relevant person believes that the person is, may be or, if the property were the person’s home, may become a benefits claimant,
(b) a contract of insurance is an excluded contract of insurance if—
(i) section (Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland) of the Renters (Reform) Act 2024 (Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland) does not apply to it, and
(ii) it contains a term which makes provision (however expressed) requiring the insured to prohibit a tenant under a private residential tenancy from being a benefits claimant.
6C Discriminatory terms relating to children or benefits status
(1) A term of a private residential tenancy is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed)—
(a) prohibiting the tenant from having a child live with or visit the tenant at the property or restricting the circumstances in which the tenant may have a child do so, or
(b) prohibiting the tenant from being a benefits claimant.
(2) But—
(a) subsection (1)(a) does not apply if the provision is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim,
(b) subsection (1)(a) and (b) does not apply to the extent that the landlord is insured under an excluded contract of insurance and the provision in the tenancy is a means of preventing the landlord from breaching the term which causes the contract to be an excluded contract of insurance.
(3) For the purpose of subsection (2)(b), a contract of insurance is an excluded contract of insurance if—
(a) section (Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland) of the Renters (Reform) Act 2024 (Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland) does not apply to it, and
(b) it contains a term which makes provision (however expressed) requiring the landlord—
(i) to prohibit the tenant from having a child live with or visit the tenant at the property or to restrict the circumstances in which the tenant may have a child live with or visit the tenant at the property, or
(ii) to prohibit the tenant from being a benefits claimant.
6D No prohibition on taking income into account
Nothing in this Part prohibits taking a person’s income into account when considering whether that person would be able to afford to pay rent under a private residential tenancy.
6E Interpretation of Part 1A
In this Part—
“benefits claimant” means a person who—
(a) is entitled to payments (including payments made directly to a landlord) under or by virtue of benefits and welfare legislation, or
(b) is entitled, by virtue of section 80 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, to a reduction in the amount of council tax payable in respect of the property on the basis of income or an entitlement to a payment mentioned in paragraph (a),
“benefits and welfare legislation” means—
(a) the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992,
(b) the Jobseekers Act 1995,
(c) the State Pension Credit Act 2002,
(d) the Tax Credits Act 2002,
(e) the Welfare Reform Act 2007,
(f) the Welfare Reform Act 2012,
(g) the Pensions Act 2014,
(h) the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018,
“child” means a person under the age of 18,
“prospective landlord” means a person who proposes to let a property on an agreement which may give rise to a private residential tenancy,
“prospective tenant” means a person seeking to find a property to rent,
“relevant person” , in relation to a property, means—
(a) the prospective landlord,
(b) a person acting or purporting to act directly or indirectly on behalf of the prospective landlord.’
(3) Before section 76, insert—
75A Crown application
(1) Nothing in Part 1A makes the Crown criminally liable.
(2) But the Court of Session may, on an application by the Lord Advocate, declare unlawful any act or omission for which the Crown would be criminally liable were it not for subsection (1).
(3) Subsection (1) does not affect the criminal liability of persons in the service of the Crown.’
(4) In section 77 (regulation-making powers), in subsection (4), after ‘sections’ insert ‘6A(3)(b), 6B(3)(b),’.
(5) The Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 is amended in accordance with subsection (6).
(6) After section 26 insert—
26A Discriminatory terms relating to children or benefits status
(1) A term of an assured tenancy is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed)—
(a) prohibiting the tenant from having a child live with or visit the tenant at the dwelling or restricting the circumstances in which the tenant may have a child do so, or
(b) prohibiting the tenant from being a benefits claimant.
(2) But—
(a) subsection (1)(a) does not apply if the provision is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, and
(b) subsection (1)(a) and (b) does not apply to the extent that the landlord is insured under an excluded contract of insurance and the provision in the tenancy is a means of preventing the landlord from breaching the term which causes the contract to be an excluded contract of insurance.
(3) For the purpose of subsection (2)(b), a contract of insurance is an excluded contract of insurance if—
(a) section (Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland) of the Renters (Reform) Act 2024 (Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland) does not apply to it, and
(b) it contains a term which makes provision (however expressed) requiring the landlord—
(i) to prohibit the tenant from having a child live with or visit the tenant at the dwelling or to restrict the circumstances in which the tenant may have a child live with or visit the tenant at the dwelling, or
(ii) to prohibit the tenant from being a benefits claimant.
(4) In this section—
“benefits claimant” means a person who—
(a) is entitled to payments (including payments made directly to a landlord) under or by virtue of benefits and welfare legislation, or
(b) is entitled, by virtue of section 80 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, to a reduction in the amount of council tax payable in respect of the property on the basis of income or an entitlement to a payment mentioned in paragraph (a),
“benefits and welfare legislation” means—
(a) the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992,
(b) the Jobseekers Act 1995,
(c) the State Pension Credit Act 2002,
(d) the Tax Credits Act 2002,
(e) the Welfare Reform Act 2007,
(f) the Welfare Reform Act 2012,
(g) the Pensions Act 2014,
(h) the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018,
“child” means a person under the age of 18.’
(7) The Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 is amended in accordance with subsection (8).
(8) After section 101 insert—
101A Discriminatory terms relating to children or benefits status
(1) A term of a protected or statutory tenancy is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed)—
(a) prohibiting the tenant from having a child live with or visit the tenant at the dwelling or restricting the circumstances in which the tenant may have a child do so, or
(b) prohibiting the tenant from being a benefits claimant.
(2) But—
(a) subsection (1)(a) does not apply if the provision is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, and
(b) subsection (1)(a) and (b) does not apply to the extent that the landlord is insured under an excluded contract of insurance and the provision in the tenancy is a means of preventing the landlord from breaching the term which causes the contract to be an excluded contract of insurance.
(3) For the purpose of subsection (2)(b), a contract of insurance is an excluded contract of insurance if—
(a) section (Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland) of the Renters (Reform) Act 2024 (Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland) does not apply to it, and
(b) it contains a term which makes provision (however expressed) requiring the landlord—
(i) to prohibit the tenant from having a child live with or visit the tenant at the dwelling or to restrict the circumstances in which the tenant may have a child live with or visit the tenant at the dwelling, or
(ii) to prohibit the tenant from being a benefits claimant.
(4) In this section—
“benefits claimant” means a person who—
(a) is entitled to payments (including payments made directly to a landlord) under or by virtue of benefits and welfare legislation, or
(b) is entitled, by virtue of section 80 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, to a reduction in the amount of council tax payable in respect of the property on the basis of income or an entitlement to a payment mentioned in paragraph (a),
“benefits and welfare legislation” means—
(a) the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992,
(b) the Jobseekers Act 1995,
(c) the State Pension Credit Act 2002,
(d) the Tax Credits Act 2002,
(e) the Welfare Reform Act 2007,
(f) the Welfare Reform Act 2012,
(g) the Pensions Act 2014,
(h) the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018,
“child” means a person under the age of 18.’”—(Jacob Young.)
This and other new clauses relating to discriminatory practices in relation to the grant of tenancies in Scotland are expected to form a new Chapter 4A of Part 1 of the Bill. Chapters 3 and 4 of Part 1 make similar provision for England and Wales.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill..
New Clause 19
Terms in standard securities relating to children or benefits status: Scotland
“(1) A term of a standard security over land that consists of or includes a dwelling is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed) requiring the debtor in the standard security to—
(a) prohibit a tenant under a relevant tenancy from having a child live with or visit the tenant at the dwelling, or
(b) restrict the circumstances in which a tenant under a relevant tenancy may have a child live with or visit the tenant at the dwelling.
(2) A term of a standard security over land that consists of or includes a dwelling is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed) requiring the debtor in the standard security to prohibit a benefits claimant from being a tenant under a relevant tenancy.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause provides for terms of a mortgage to be ineffective so far as they would prohibit a tenant under the specified tenancy types in Scotland from having a child live with or visit them or from being a benefits claimant. Clauses 32 and 38 make similar provision for England and Wales.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 20
Terms in insurance contracts relating to children or benefits status: Scotland
“(1) A term of a contract of insurance to which this section applies is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed) requiring the insured to—
(a) prohibit a tenant under a relevant tenancy from having a child live with or visit the tenant at the dwelling which forms the subject of the tenancy, or
(b) restrict the circumstances in which a tenant under a relevant tenancy may have a child live with or visit the tenant at the dwelling.
(2) A term of a contract of insurance to which this section applies is of no effect so far as the term makes provision (however expressed) requiring the insured to prohibit a benefits claimant from being a tenant under a relevant tenancy.
(3) This section applies to contracts of insurance which are entered into or whose duration is extended on or after the day on which this section comes into force.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause provides for terms of an insurance contract to be ineffective so far as they would prohibit a tenant under the specified tenancy types in Scotland from having a child live with or visit them or from being a benefits claimant. Clauses 33 and 38 make similar provision for England and Wales.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 21
Power of the Scottish Ministers to extend protection to persons of other descriptions
“(1) The Scottish Ministers may by regulations make provision about relevant tenancies, corresponding (with or without modifications) to the provision made by this Chapter in relation to persons who would have a child live with or visit them or persons who are benefits claimants, in relation to persons of another description.
(2) Regulations under subsection (1)—
(a) may amend, repeal or revoke provision made by or under—
(i) an Act of the Scottish Parliament,
(ii) an Act (including this Act),
whenever passed or made;
(b) may only make provision which would be within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament if contained in an Act of that Parliament.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause allows the Scottish Ministers, by regulations, to expand the provision made by the new Chapter expected to be formed of new clauses relating to discriminatory practices in relation to the grant of tenancies to protect persons of other descriptions. Clauses 34 and 38 make similar provision for England and Wales.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 22
Interpretation of Chapter 4A
“In this Chapter—
‘benefits claimant’ means a person who—
(a) is entitled to payments (including payments made directly to a landlord) under or by virtue of benefits and welfare legislation or would be so entitled were the person to become a tenant under a private residential tenancy, or
(b) is entitled, or would (on application or otherwise), if the person were to rent the property, be entitled, by virtue of section 80 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, to a reduction in the amount of council tax payable in respect of the property on the basis of income or an entitlement to a payment mentioned in paragraph (a);
‘benefits and welfare legislation’ means—
(a) the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992;
(b) the Jobseekers Act 1995;
(c) the State Pension Credit Act 2002;
(d) the Tax Credits Act 2002;
(e) the Welfare Reform Act 2007;
(f) the Welfare Reform Act 2012;
(g) the Pensions Act 2014;
(h) the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 (asp 9);
‘child’ means a person under the age of 18;
‘relevant tenancy’ means—
(a) a private residential tenancy under the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 (asp 19);
(b) an assured tenancy under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988;
(c) a protected or statutory tenancy under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984;
‘tenant’ includes sub-tenant.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause contains definitions relevant to the new Chapter expected to be formed of new clauses for Scotland relating to discriminatory practices in relation to the grant of tenancies. Clauses 36 and 38 make similar provision for England and Wales.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 23
Power of Scottish Ministers to make consequential provision
“(1) The Scottish Ministers may by regulations make provision that is consequential on Chapter 4A of Part 1 (see section 27 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 10), as a result of which such regulations are to be made by Scottish statutory instrument).
(2) Regulations under this section may amend, repeal or revoke provision made by or under—
(a) an Act of the Scottish Parliament passed before this Act, or
(b) an Act passed—
(i) before this Act, or
(ii) later in the same session of Parliament as this Act.
(3) The power to make regulations under this section includes power to make—
(a) supplementary, incidental, transitional or saving provision;
(b) different provision for different purposes.
(4) The power under subsection (3)(a) to make transitional provision includes power to provide for the regulations to apply (with or without modifications) in relation to tenancies entered into, or advertising begun, before the date on which the regulations come into force.
(5) Regulations under this section may only make provision which would be within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament if contained in an Act of that Parliament.
(6) Regulations made under this section that amend or repeal provision made by an Act of the Scottish Parliament, or by an Act, are subject to the affirmative procedure (see section 29 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 10)).
(7) Any other regulations made under this section are subject to the negative procedure (see section 28 of that Act).”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause confers on the Scottish Ministers a power to make consequential amendments relating to Chapter 4A of Part 1 of the Bill (which will comprise the new clauses about discriminatory practices in relation to the grant of tenancies in Scotland). It is expected to be inserted into Part 5 of the Bill. Clauses 113 and 114 make similar provision for England and Wales.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 24
Power of Secretary of State to extend protection to persons of other descriptions: Scotland
“The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision that the Scottish Ministers could make under section (Power of the Scottish Ministers to extend protection to persons of other descriptions)(1) but for the limitation in section (Power of the Scottish Ministers to extend protection to persons of other descriptions)(2)(b).”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause is expected to form part of a new Chapter containing clauses relating to discriminatory practices in Scotland, similar to provision made by Chapters 3 and 4 of Part 1 for England and Wales. The power it gives the Secretary of State supplements the power of the Scottish Ministers inserted by NC21.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill..
New Clause 25
Landlord redress schemes: no Crown status
“A person exercising functions under a landlord redress scheme (other than the Secretary of State) is not to be regarded as the servant or agent of the Crown or as enjoying any status, privilege or immunity of the Crown or as exempt from any tax, duty, rate, levy or other charge whatsoever, whether general or local, and any property held by such a person is not to be regarded as property of, or held on behalf of, the Crown.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause makes it clear that people exercising functions under a landlord redress scheme do not have Crown status.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill..
New Clause 26
Other amendments in connection with landlord redress schemes
“Schedule NS1 contains amendments connected with landlord redress schemes.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause introduces new Schedule NS1 which contains amendments connected with landlord redress schemes.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill..
New Clause 27
Commencement
“(1) This Act comes into force for the purposes of making regulations on the day on which it is passed.
(2) For remaining purposes this Act comes into force on such day as the Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument appoint, subject to subsections (3) to (6).
(3) Chapter 4 of Part 1 comes into force on such day as the Welsh Ministers by order made by statutory instrument appoint.
(4) Chapter 4A of Part 1 comes into force on such day as the Scottish Ministers may by regulations appoint (see section 27 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 10), as a result of which such regulations are to be made by Scottish statutory instrument).
(5) The following come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed—
(a) Chapter 2 of Part 1;
(b) section 43;
(c) section 82;
(d) Chapter 3 of Part 4.
(6) Section 83 and this Part come into force on the day on which this Act is passed.
(7) Different days may be appointed under this section for different purposes.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause and Amendment 151 and NC28 together replace clause 116 with two clauses, one on commencement and one on application of Chapter 1 of Part 1. This new clause deals with commencement. It includes commencement provision about clauses 81 and 82 and new Chapter 4A of Part 1 (prohibitions on discrimination in relation to tenancies in Scotland) as well as providing for regulation-making powers to commence on Royal Assent. The re-incorporated provisions are re-structured.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill..
New Clause 28
Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1
“(1) Chapter 1 of Part 1 applies (subject to any provision made by or under this Act)—
(a) in relation to an assured tenancy that is entered into on or after the day on which that Chapter comes into force (“the commencement date”), and
(b) on and after the extended application date, in relation to an assured tenancy that—
(i) was entered into before the commencement date, and
(ii) continues in effect on the extended application date,
(and accordingly, on the extended application date any such tenancy becomes an assured tenancy to which section 4A of the 1988 Act, as inserted by section 1 of this Act, applies).
(2) Schedule 5 contains transitional provision relating to the application of Chapter 1 of Part 1 to assured tenancies referred to in subsection (1)(b) (‘existing tenancies’).
(3) In paragraph (b) of subsection (1) ‘the extended application date’ means—
(a) in relation to an assured tenancy referred to in that paragraph that is converted to a periodic tenancy on or after the commencement date but before the date appointed under paragraph (b) of this subsection, the date on which it is so converted;
(b) in relation to another assured tenancy referred to in paragraph (b) of subsection (1), a date appointed by the Secretary of State by regulations.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (3)(a) an assured tenancy is ‘converted to a periodic tenancy’ if and when it becomes a periodic tenancy on the expiry of a fixed term.
(5) The Secretary of State may not make regulations under subsection (3)(b) until the assessment under section (Assessment of operation of possession process) has been published.
(6) For the purposes of the relevant provisions, a fixed term assured tenancy and a periodic tenancy that arises on its expiry by virtue of section 5 of the 1988 Act are to be treated as a single assured tenancy which—
(a) is entered into when the fixed term tenancy was entered into, and
(b) becomes a periodic tenancy on the expiry of the fixed term.
(7) In subsection (6), ‘the relevant provisions’ means—
(a) section 5 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 as amended by section (Notices to quit by tenants under assured tenancies: timing),
(b) Part 1 of the 1988 Act as amended by Chapter 1 of Part 1,
(c) subsections (1) to (5) of this section, and
(d) Schedule 5.
(8) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section to provide for subsection (6) to apply for the purposes of other provision made by or under an Act passed before or later in the same session as this Act.
(9) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (8) (whether alone or with other provision) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
(10) Regulations under this section may make different provision for different purposes.
(11) Regulations under this section are to be made by statutory instrument.
(12) Nothing in this section prevents regulations made under section (Commencement)(2) and (7) from appointing different days for the purposes of different descriptions of assured tenancy and, where they do so, the reference in subsection (1)(a) to the day on which Chapter 1 of Part 1 comes into force is to the day on which that Chapter comes into force for the purposes of the tenancy in question.
(13) Nothing in this section prevents regulations made under subsections (3)(b) and (10) from appointing different days for the purposes of different descriptions of assured tenancy and, where they do so, the reference in subsection (3)(b) to a date appointed by the Secretary of State in regulations is to a date so appointed for the purposes of the tenancy in question.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause and Amendment 151 and NC27 together replace clause 116 with two clauses, one dealing with commencement and one dealing with application of Chapter 1 of Part 1. This new clause contains the application provisions with some additional clarificatory provisions. It also changes the meaning of “the relevant provisions” and allows regulations to make further changes.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 29
Assured agricultural occupancies: opting out etc
“(1) The 1988 Act is amended as follows.
(2) In section 24 (assured agricultural occupancies), after subsection (1) insert—
‘(1A) Subsection (1) has effect subject to section 24A(1) (opting out).’
(3) In subsection (2)(a) of that section omit “which is not an assured shorthold tenancy”.
(4) In subsection (3) of that section, for ‘shall be treated as if it were such a tenancy’ substitute ‘, and every opted-out tenancy, is to be treated as if it were an assured tenancy’.
(5) After that section insert—
24A Opting out
(1) A tenancy that would otherwise be an assured agricultural occupancy for the purposes of this Part is not such an occupancy for those purposes if—
(a) before the tenancy is entered into, an opt-out notice (see subsection (2)) is served by the person who is to be the landlord on the person who is to be the tenant, and
(b) the tenancy is not the continuation of an existing occupancy (see subsection (3)).
(2) An opt-out notice is a notice, in such form as may be prescribed, stating that the tenancy is not to be an assured agricultural occupancy.
(3) A tenancy is the continuation of an existing occupancy if—
(a) the person to whom the tenancy is granted or, as the case may be, at least one of the persons to whom it is granted was, immediately before it was granted, a tenant under an assured agricultural occupancy, and
(b) the person by whom it is granted or, as the case may be, at least one of the persons by whom it is granted was, immediately before it was granted, a landlord under the assured agricultural occupancy referred to in paragraph (a).
(4) In this Chapter “opted-out tenancy” means a tenancy that, but for this section, would be an assured agricultural occupancy.’
(6) In section 25 (security of tenure) omit subsection (1).” —(Jacob Young.)
This new clause provides for landlord’s notice pre-tenancy to an agricultural worker, with the effect that the tenancy is not an assured agricultural occupancy (similar to paragraph 9 of Schedule 2A to the 1988 Act, which is omitted). It is expected to go after clause 20.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 31
Local Commissioners’ investigation of complaints by persons who are not tenants
“In section 26 of the Local Government Act 1974, at the end of subsection (8) insert ‘unless—
(a) the investigation is in respect of action described in paragraph 5A or 5B of that Schedule, and
(b) the person affected is not an individual of a description whom a scheme approved under Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1996 (investigation of social housing complaints by housing ombudsman) provides may make a complaint under that scheme in respect of that action.’”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause allows the Local Commissioners to investigate the actions of a local authority acting in its capacity as a social landlord, where the complainant is not a tenant of the local authority. It is expected to be inserted after clause 52.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 32
Unlicensed HMOs and houses: offences
“(1) Section 72 of the Housing Act 2004 (offences in relation to licensing of HMOs) is amended in accordance with subsections (2) to (4).
(2) For subsection (1) substitute—
“(1) If an HMO is required to be licensed under this Part (see section 61(1)) but is not so licensed, an offence is committed by—
(a) any person within subsection (1A), and
(b) any person who as landlord under a tenancy or licensor under a licence to occupy has an estate or interest in, or a right in relation to, the HMO that is superior (whether directly or indirectly) to the estate, interest or right of any person within subsection (1A).
(1A) The following are within this subsection—
(a) any person having control of or managing the HMO, and
(b) any person who is the landlord or licensor in relation to a person occupying the HMO under a tenancy or licence.”
(3) After subsection (4) insert—
“(4A) In proceedings against a person for an offence under subsection (1)(a) it is a defence for them to prove that they had a reasonable excuse—
(a) for having control of or managing the HMO, or
(b) for being the landlord or licensor in relation to a person occupying the HMO under a tenancy or licence,
in circumstances in which the HMO was required to be licensed under this Part but was not so licensed.
(4B) In proceedings against a person for an offence under subsection (1)(b) it is a defence for them to prove that they—
(a) did not know, and had a reasonable excuse for not knowing, that the building or part of the building concerned was an HMO,
(b) took all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that the HMO was licensed under this Part, or
(c) had some other reasonable excuse for failing to ensure that the HMO was so licensed.”
(4) In subsection (5)—
(a) for “subsection (1), (2) or (3)” substitute “subsection (2) or (3)”, and
(b) omit paragraph (a) (together with the “or” at the end of it).
(5) Section 95 of the Housing Act 2004 (offences in relation to licensing of houses under Part 3) is amended in accordance with subsections (6) to (8).
(6) For subsection (1) substitute—
“(1) If a house is required to be licensed under this Part (see section 85(1)) but is not so licensed, an offence is committed by—
(a) any person within subsection (1A), and
(b) any person who as landlord under a tenancy or licensor under a licence to occupy has an estate or interest in, or a right in relation to, the house that is superior (whether directly or indirectly) to the estate, interest or right of any person within subsection (1A).
(1A) The following are within this subsection—
(a) any person having control of or managing the house;
(b) any person who is the landlord or licensor in relation to a person occupying the house under a tenancy or licence.”
(7) After subsection (3) insert—
“(3A) In proceedings against a person for an offence under subsection (1)(a) it is a defence for them to prove that they had a reasonable excuse—
(a) for having control of or managing the house, or
(b) for being the landlord or licensor in relation to a person occupying the house under a tenancy or licence,
in circumstances in which the house was required to be licensed under this Part but was not so licensed
(3B) In proceedings against a person for an offence under subsection (1)(b) it is a defence for them to prove that they—
(a) did not know, and had a reasonable excuse for not knowing, that the house was one to which this Part applies,
(b) took all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that the house was licensed under this Part, or
(c) had some other reasonable excuse for failing to ensure that the house was so licensed.”
(8) In subsection (4)—
(a) for “subsection (1) or (2)” substitute “subsection (2)”, and
(b) for the words following “excuse” substitute “for failing to comply with the condition”.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause, which is expected to be added to Chapter 1 of Part 4 of the Bill, amends the offences in sections 72 and 95 of the Housing Act 2004 so that they can be committed by landlords and licensors and by superior landlords and licensors. It will be possible to make rent repayment orders against all these persons.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 33
Service of improvement notices on landlords and licensors
“In Schedule 1 to the Housing Act 2004 (procedure and appeals relating to improvement notices), in paragraph 2(2)—
(a) after “the notice” insert “on whichever of the following the authority considers ought to take the action specified in it”,
(b) in paragraphs (a) and (b), omit “on” in each place, and
(c) after paragraph (b) insert—
“(c) (in either case) if the premises or any part of them are let under a tenancy that is periodic or was granted for a term of 21 years or less, or are occupied under a licence—
(i) the landlord or licensor;
(ii) any superior landlord or licensor.””—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause, which is expected to be added to Chapter 1 of Part 4 of the Bill, allows improvement notices to be served on landlords, licensors, and superior landlords and licensors. It will be possible to make rent repayment orders against recipients if they fail to comply.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 34
Rent repayment orders: liability of directors etc
“In the Housing and Planning Act 2016, after section 51 insert—
“51A Landlord which is body corporate: liability of directors etc
(1) This section applies where—
(a) a landlord which is a body corporate has committed an offence to which this Chapter applies, and
(b) the offence—
(i) was committed with the consent or connivance of a relevant person in relation to the body corporate, or of a person purporting to act in the capacity of a relevant person in relation to the body corporate, or
(ii) was a specified offence and was attributable to any neglect on the part of such a person.
(2) That person, as well as the body corporate, is treated for the purposes of this Chapter as having committed the offence.
(3) In this Chapter a reference to the landlord includes that person.
(4) In this section—
“relevant person” means—
(a) in relation to a body corporate other than one the affairs of which are managed by its members, a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body;
(b) in relation to a body corporate the affairs of which are managed by its members, a member who exercises functions of management with respect to it;
“specified offence” means an offence under—
(a) section 1(2) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977;
(b) section 30(1), 32(1), 72(1) or 95(1) of the Housing Act 2004;
(c) section 21 of this Act;
(d) section 48(1), (2) or (3) or 69(2), (3) or (4) of the Renters (Reform) Act 2024.”.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause provides for it to be possible to make a rent repayment order against a director or other officer of a body corporate which has committed an offence to which Chapter 4 of Part 2 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 applies. This new clause is expected to be added to Chapter 1 of Part 4 of the Bill.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 35
Report on certain matters relating to tenancy reform
“(1) The Secretary of State must make arrangements for an independent person to prepare a report on—
(a) the impact of section 1 on the provision of relevant tenancies;
(b) the extent to which the grounds in Schedule 2 to the 1988 Act as amended by this Act—
(i) operate effectively;
(ii) are comprehensive;
(iii) are fair.
(2) The Secretary of State must, within the period of 18 months beginning with the relevant date, lay before both Houses of Parliament—
(a) a copy of the report, and
(b) a statement setting out the Secretary of State’s response to the report.
(3) Nothing in subsection (1) prevents the Secretary of State from arranging for the independent person to include in the report matters additional to those mentioned in that subsection.
(4) In this section—
“relevant date” means the earliest date appointed by the Secretary of State under section (Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(3)(b);
“relevant tenancy” means an assured tenancy within the meaning of the 1988 Act other than a tenancy of social housing within the meaning of Part 2 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.”—(Jacob Young.)
This new clause requires the Secretary of State to make arrangements for an independent person to prepare a report on certain matters relating to tenancy reform within 18 months of the earliest date appointed by the Secretary of State as the “extended application date” under subsection (3)(b) of the new clause inserted by amendment NC28.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 36
Report on provision of residential tenancies
“(1) The Secretary of State must prepare and lay before both Houses of Parliament a report containing an analysis of statistical data relating to the provision of residential tenancies.
(2) A report must be prepared and laid under subsection (1)—
(a) within the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, and
(b) within each subsequent period of 12 months.
(3) The data analysed in a report may include (but is not limited to) data about—
(a) the number of dwellings let under residential tenancies;
(b) the location of those dwellings;
(c) the size of those dwellings.
(4) The data analysed in a report may be data that—
(a) is estimated;
(b) comprises data relating to the provision of residential tenancies and other data.
(5) Subject to subsections (6) and (7), in this section “dwelling” and “residential tenancy” have the meaning given by section 44 on the day on which this Act is passed.
(6) Where regulations under section 44(4)(b) are made adding a particular kind of tenancy or licence to the meaning of “residential tenancy” in Part 2—
(a) a report under subsection (1) may also contain an analysis of statistical data relating to tenancies or licences of that kind, and
(b) where a report does so, subsections (3) and (4) are to be read as if “residential tenancy” in this section included tenancies or licences of that kind.
(7) Where regulations under section 44(4)(c) are made expanding the meaning of “dwelling” in Part 2—
(a) a report under subsection (1) may also contain an analysis of statistical data relating to dwellings within the expanded meaning given by those regulations, and
(b) where a report does so, subsections (3) and (4) are to be read as if “dwelling” in this section included such dwellings.
(8) This section ceases to have effect at the end of the period of five years beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.” —(Jacob Young.)
This new clause imposes on ongoing duty on the Secretary of State to prepare and lay before Parliament a report containing an analysis of statistical data relating to the provision of residential tenancies. The duty expires after 5 years.
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
18:00
Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, 23 October 2023).
The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).
Clause 1
Assured tenancies to be periodic with rent period not exceeding a month
Amendments made: 200, page 1, line 11, at end insert “, or
“(b) for periods of the tenancy to be different from the periods for which rent is payable (“rent periods”).”
This amendment, together with amendment 201, ensures that the periods of all assured tenancies will be the same as the rent periods (which are governed by the new section 4A(3) and (4)).
Amendment 201, page 1, line 13, after “(1)” insert “(a) or (b)”.
See the explanatory statement for amendment 200.
Amendment 202, page 1, line 14, leave out
“those for which rent is payable”
and insert “the rent periods”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 200.
Amendment 203, page 1, line 16, leave out
“periods for which rent is payable (“rent periods”)”
and insert “rent periods”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 200.
Amendment 204, page 2, line 1, leave out “about rent periods” and insert “of an assured tenancy”.— (Jacob Young.)
Clause 3
Changes to grounds for possession
Amendments made: 205, page 3, line 3, at end insert “, or
(b) where the court has exercised the power conferred by section 8(1)(b), the period of 14 days beginning—
(i) if the court considers it just and equitable, with the date on which any purported notice under section 8 (within the meaning given by section 16E(8)) was served on the tenant;
(ii) otherwise, with the date on which the proceedings for possession began.”
This amendment changes the new subsection (5B) inserted by clause 3(2)(b) of the Bill to make clear how it applies in a case in which the court has waived the requirement for a possession notice.
Amendment 57, page 3, line 21, after “2ZB,” insert “2ZC, 2ZD”.
This amendment is consequential on amendments 161 and 164.
Amendment 56, page 3, line 22, after “5D,” insert “5H,”.
This amendment adds the new Ground 5H (possession of stepping stone accommodation) inserted by amendment 175 to the table that the Bill inserts into section 8 of the 1988 Act, with the effect that a notice under that section relying on that ground must specify a date no sooner than 2 months after the date of service of the notice.
Amendment 58, page 3, line 32, leave out “2ZB” and insert “2ZC”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 161.
Amendment 59, page 3, line 32, at end insert—
“(5B) A notice given by an intermediate landlord under Ground 2ZB is to be treated, when the superior tenancy ends, as a notice given by the person who became the landlord by virtue of section 18 under Ground 2ZD.”
This amendment is consequential on amendments 161 and 164.
Amendment 206, page 3, line 33, at end insert—
“(4) After section 8 of the 1988 Act insert—
8ZA Disapplication of conditions where notice dispensed with
(1) Where a landlord seeks to recover possession on Ground 4A in Schedule 2 and the court exercises the power conferred by section 8(1)(b), the court may disapply paragraph (c) of that ground if—
(a) a purported notice under section 8 was served on the tenant which—
(i) specified the ground, and
(ii) in purported compliance with section 8(3)(b), specified a date falling within the period beginning with 1 June and ending with 30 September in any year,
(b) the proceedings for possession began on or after the date so specified, and
(c) the court considers it just and equitable to disapply paragraph (c) of the ground.
(2) Where a landlord seeks to recover possession on Ground 5G in Schedule 2 and the court exercises the power conferred by section 8(1)(b), the court may disapply paragraph (b) of that ground if—
(a) a purported notice under section 8 was served on the tenant which—
(i) specified the ground, and
(ii) in purported compliance with section 8(3)(b), specified a date that was no more than 12 months after the date on which the local housing authority notified the landlord as mentioned in paragraph (a) of the ground,
(b) the proceedings for possession began on or after the date so specified, and
(c) the court considers it just and equitable to disapply paragraph (b) of the ground.
(3) Where a landlord seeks to recover possession on Ground 6 in Schedule 2 and the court exercises the power conferred by section 8(1)(b), the court may disapply paragraph (aa)(ii) of that ground if—
(a) a purported notice under section 8 was served on the tenant which—
(i) specified the ground, and
(ii) in purported compliance with section 8(3)(b), specified a date that was less than 12 months after the date on which the dwelling-house was transferred to the landlord,
(b) the proceedings for possession began on or after the date so specified, and
(c) the court considers it just and equitable to disapply paragraph (aa)(ii) of the ground.
(4) In this section “purported notice under section 8” has the meaning given by section 16E(8).””—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment provides for circumstances in which the court can disapply aspects of possession grounds that relate to the timing of a possession notice or of proceedings, where the court has waived the requirement for a possession notice.
Clause 6
Statutory procedure for increases of rent
Amendment made: 207, page 7, line 4, at end insert—
13B Challenge to validity of notice to increase rent
Where a tenant under an assured tenancy makes an application to the appropriate tribunal in the prescribed form, the tribunal may determine whether a notice served on the tenant under section 13(2) or 13A(2) is valid.”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment adds a new section to the 1988 Act which allows a tenant under an assured tenancy to challenge the validity of a notice to increase the rent in the First-tier Tribunal (instead of in the county court, which is currently the forum for such challenges).
Clause 11
Duty of landlord and contractor to give statement of terms etc
Amendments made: 60, page 13, line 8, after “2ZB,” insert “2ZC, 2ZD”.
This amendment is consequential on amendments 161 and 164.
Amendment 208, page 13, line 8, leave out “4A,”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 227 and removes the mention of the new student house possession ground 4A from the inserted section 16D(3) of the 1988 Act, since amendment 227 inserts a stronger requirement for prior notice if a landlord is to gain possession using that ground.
Amendment 61, page 13, line 8, leave out “5G” and insert “5H—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment allows a landlord to state on or before the start of the tenancy a wish to rely on the new Ground 5H (possession of stepping stone accommodation) inserted by amendment 175.
Clause 12
Other duties
Amendments made: 209, page 14, line 8, leave out “the landlord is not” and insert
“the person does not reasonably believe the landlord to be”.
This amendment ensures that a landlord, or another person acting or purporting to act on the landlord’s behalf, cannot be penalised for wrongly relying on a ground for possession where they reasonably believe that the landlord is entitled to rely on it.
Amendment 63, page 14, line 11, after “2ZB,” insert “2ZC, 2ZD”.
This amendment is consequential on amendments 161 and 164.
Amendment 210, page 14, line 11, leave out “4A,”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 227 and removes the mention of the new student house possession ground 4A from the inserted section 16E(2) of the 1988 Act, since amendment 227 inserts a stronger requirement for prior notice if a landlord is to gain possession using that ground.
Amendment 62, page 14, line 11, leave out “5G” and insert “5H”.
This amendment provides that a landlord must not rely on the new Ground 5H (possession of stepping stone accommodation) inserted by amendment 175 to gain possession if they did not state on or before the start of the tenancy a wish to rely on it. If they do rely on it, they may be subject to a penalty.
Amendment 211, page 14, leave out lines 14 to 18.
This amendment removes new section 16E(2)(f) of the 1988 Act inserted by clause 12 because it substantially overlaps with section 16E(2)(d).
Amendment 64, page 14, line 22, at end insert “, or
(b) permit a person to occupy the dwelling-house—
(i) under a licence to occupy, and
(ii) for monetary consideration,
except in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (3A).
(3A) The circumstances are that—
(a) the relevant person relied on Ground 1 and persons mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of Ground 1 also occupy the dwelling-house and do so as their only or principal home, or
(b) the relevant person relied on Ground 1A, the licensee has agreed to purchase the landlord’s interest in the dwelling-house and the licence to occupy is granted in anticipation of that purchase.”
This amendment prohibits granting a licence to occupy a dwelling-house in exchange for money (e.g. on a holiday let) within the 3 month restricted period after the landlord has relied on Ground 1 (landlord or family to occupy) or 1A (sale) to gain possession of it, with certain exceptions.
Amendment 65, page 14, line 27, at end insert—
“(ab) within the restricted period, market the dwelling-house to be occupied—
(i) under a licence to occupy, and
(ii) for monetary consideration,”.
This amendment prohibits a relevant person from, within the 3 month restricted period after the landlord has relied on Ground 1 (possession for landlord or family to occupy) or 1A (possession for sale) to gain possession of it, marketing the dwelling-house to be occupied under a licence for money (for example, on a holiday let).
Amendment 66, page 14, line 31, at end insert “, or
(c) authorise another person to market the dwelling-house to be occupied—
(i) under a licence to occupy, and
(ii) for monetary consideration,
so far as the authorisation would allow that other person to market it within the restricted period.”
This amendment prohibits a relevant person from authorising someone to market the dwelling-house within the 3 month restricted period after the landlord has relied on Ground 1 (possession for landlord or family to occupy) or 1A (possession for sale) to gain possession of it, to be occupied under a licence in exchange for money (for example, on a holiday let).
Amendment 67, page 14, line 31, at end insert—
“(4A) Subsection (3) does not apply where the relevant person relies on Ground 1 and the letting is to, or the licensee is, a person mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of that ground.
(4B) Subsection (4) does not apply where the relevant person relies on Ground 1 and the marketing is in connection with letting to or occupation under a licence by a person mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of that ground.
(4C) Paragraphs (ab) and (c) of subsection (4) do not apply to marketing or authorisation of marketing where the purpose of the marketing is to secure that the dwelling-house is occupied in circumstances mentioned in subsection (3A).”
This amendment permits letting/licensing to a person mentioned in Ground 1 (occupation by landlord or relatives) or marketing in connection with those things, during the 3 month restricted period after relying on that ground. It makes amendments 65 and 66 subject to the exceptions mentioned in amendment 64.
Amendment 212, page 15, line 3, leave out from “but” to end of line 4 and insert—
“(a) purports—
(i) to be such a notice, or
(ii) to bring an assured tenancy to an end, or
(b) asserts that the landlord is or may be entitled to rely on a specified ground in Schedule 2 in relation to an assured tenancy and requests or requires that the tenancy is brought to an end,
and is not a claim form or a document produced pursuant to proceedings in the court for possession of the dwelling-house;”.
This amendment clarifies the meaning of “purported notice under section 8” and reflects the fact that such a notice does not itself bring a tenancy to an end.
Amendment 68, page 15, line 25, at end insert—
“(1A) For the purposes of section 16E a person markets a dwelling-house to be occupied under a licence when—
(a) the person advertises that the dwelling-house is or may be available to be occupied under a licence, or
(b) in the course of lettings agency work, the person informs any other person that the dwelling is or may be so available.”
This amendment applies the existing provision about marketing to marketing in relation to licences.
Amendment 69, page 15, line 26, leave out “subsection (1)(a) does” and insert
“subsections (1)(a) and (1A)(a) do”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 68.
Amendment 70, page 15, line 34, leave out “whom to let” and insert “occupy”.
This amendment to the defined term “prospective landlord” reflects the fact that the section is to concern marketing for occupation under licences as well as tenancies.
Amendment 71, page 15, line 35, leave out “tenant” and insert “occupier”.
This amendment to the defined term “prospective tenant” makes the term more suitable now that the section amended is to concern marketing for occupation under licences as well as tenancies.
Amendment 72, page 15, line 36, leave out “let” and insert “occupy”.
This amendment reflects the fact that the section is to concern marketing for occupation under licences as well as tenancies.
Amendment 73, page 15, line 42, leave out “tenant” and insert “occupier”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 71.
Amendment 74, page 16, line 2, leave out “tenant” and insert “occupier”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 71.
Amendment 75, page 16, line 4, leave out “tenant” and insert “occupier”.—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment is consequential on amendment 71.
Clause 14
Landlords etc: financial penalties and offences
Amendments made: 213, page 18, line 13, leave out from “it,” to first “the” in line 21 and insert “, and”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 211.
Amendment 214, page 18, leave out lines 24 and 25 and insert—
“(2) Subsections (6) and (8) of section 16E apply for the purposes of this section as they apply for the purposes of that section.”
This amendment applies the interpretive provisions in new section 16E for the purposes of new section 16I more generally.
Amendment 195, page 21, line 9, after “London” insert
“(in its capacity as a local authority)”.—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment makes it clear that the reference to the Common Council of the City of London in the new section 16K inserted by clause 14 is to that Council in its capacity as a local authority.
Clause 16
No criminal liability of the Crown under Part 1 of 1988 Act
Amendments made: 215, page 24, line 39, at beginning insert
“being a landlord under a tenancy to which section 16E applies, or acting or purporting to act on behalf of such a landlord, and, in relation to that tenancy,”.
This amendment clarifies the effect of the Crown application provisions in clause 16 in relation to the new section 16I(1) of the Housing Act 1988 inserted by clause 14.
Amendment 216, page 24, line 39, leave out from “the” to end of line 3 on page 25 and insert
“condition in paragraph (a) of section 16I(1) where the condition in paragraph (b) of section 16I(1) is also satisfied,”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 211.
Amendment 217, page 25, line 6, leave out “16I(4)” and insert “16I(5)”.—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment corrects an incorrect cross-reference.
Clause 17
Notices to quit by tenants under assured tenancies: timing
Amendment made: 76, Page 25, line 10, leave out Clause 17.
This amendment would leave out clause 17 of the Bill which is intended to be replaced by new clause NC15.
Clause 20
Assured agricultural occupancies: grounds for possession
Amendment made: 77, Clause 20, page 26, line 16, after “2ZB,” insert “2ZC, 2ZD”.
This amendment is consequential on amendments 161 and 164.
Clause 22
Tenancy deposit requirements
Amendments made: 78, page 27, line 29, leave out “116(4)” and insert
“(Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(3)”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment NC28.
Amendment 79, page 28, line 25, leave out “116(4)” and insert
“(Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(1)(a)”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment NC28.
Amendment 80, page 29, line 4, leave out “116(4)” and insert
“(Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(3)”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment NC28.
Amendment 218, page 29, line 10, at end insert—
“(7A) Omit section 215C”.—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment is an additional amendment of the Housing Act 2004 regarding tenancy deposit protection, arising from the repeal of section 21 of the 1988 Act. It repeals a transitional provision in the 2004 Act.
Clause 25
Tenancies of more than seven years
Amendments made: 219, page 29, line 32, at end insert—
“(1A) In section 133 of the 1988 Act (consent required for certain subsequent disposals), in subsection (11)(f), for “4” substitute “3D”.”
This amendment is consequential on subsection (1) of this clause.
Amendment 220, page 29, line 32, at end insert—
“(1B) In section 13 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (leases to which section 11 applies: general rule)—
(a) in subsection (1A)(b) omit “or more”;
(b) after subsection (1A) insert—
“(1AA) Section 11 also applies to a lease of a dwelling-house in England granted on or after the day on which section 166 of the Localism Act 2011 came into force which is a tenancy for a fixed term of more than seven years that—
(a) would be an assured tenancy if it were not for a term of more than seven years,
(b) is not a shared ownership lease, and
(c) is granted by a private registered provider of social housing.”;
(c) in subsection (1B), for “In subsection (1A)” substitute “In this section”.”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment ensures that long tenancies that would contain statutory repairing obligations if granted now will still contain those obligations even if they are granted after clause 25 comes into force (such that they are not assured tenancies).
Clause 27
Discrimination relating to children
Amendments made: 81, page 30, line 24, after “on” insert
“an agreement which may give rise to”.
This amendment makes it clear that things done in relation to a future tenancy are not excluded merely because it is possible that the dwelling will not be the tenant’s principal home (since in a case in which it is not the tenant’s principal home, the tenancy would not be an assured tenancy).
Amendment 82, page 30, line 26, after “would” insert “or may”.—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment aligns this provision with the similar one being inserted for Scotland and ensures that a landlord or agent is prohibited from discriminating against people with children on that basis even if they were not sure that children would live with or visit the person.
Clause 28
Discrimination relating to benefits status
Amendments made: 83, page 31, line 29, after “on” insert
“an agreement which may give rise to”.
This amendment makes it clear that things done in relation to a future tenancy are not excluded merely because it is possible that the dwelling will not be the tenant’s principal home (since in a case in which it is not the tenant’s principal home, the tenancy would not be an assured tenancy).
Amendment 84, page 31, line 31, after “is” insert “or may be”.
This amendment aligns this provision with the similar one being inserted for Scotland and ensures that a landlord or agent is prohibited from discriminating against benefits claimants on that basis even if they were not sure that the person was a benefits claimant.
Amendment 85, page 32, line 5, leave out “prospective landlord” and insert “insured”.—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment ensures that the closing words of clause 28(2) refer back to either the prospective landlord or the superior landlord mentioned in the opening words, and match clause 27(2).
Clause 34
Power of the Secretary of State to amend Chapter 3 to protect others
Amendments made: 86, page 36, line 8, leave out
“amend this Chapter so as to”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 87.
Amendment 87, page 36, line 12, at end insert—
“(2) Regulations under subsection (1) may amend, repeal or revoke provision made by or under an Act, whenever passed or made (including this Act).”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment makes the power of the Secretary of State match those of the Welsh and Scottish Ministers, by allowing regulations that make corresponding provision to amend any Act or secondary legislation, not just this Chapter.
Clause 36
Interpretation of Chapter 3
Amendments made: 88, page 36, line 19, after “payments” insert
“(including payments made directly to a landlord)”.
This amendment makes it clear that entitlement to payments which are made directly to a landlord may qualify a person as a benefits claimant.
Amendment 89, page 36, line 22, at end insert—
“(b) is entitled to payments (including payments made directly to a landlord) under or by virtue of the Jobseekers Act 1995, the State Pension Credit Act 2002, the Tax Credits Act 2002, the Welfare Reform Act 2007 or the Pensions Act 2014,
(c) is in receipt of a reduction in the amount of council tax payable in respect of the person’s current home under a scheme made by a billing authority under or by virtue of section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, or
(d) would be entitled to a reduction in the amount of council tax payable in respect of the dwelling in question under a scheme made by the billing authority in whose area the dwelling is situated under or by virtue of section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, if the person were to—
(i) rent the dwelling on a relevant tenancy, and
(ii) if an application is a precondition of entitlement, apply to the billing authority for a reduction under the scheme.”
This amendment amends the definition of “benefits claimant” which applies for the purposes of the provisions of the Bill about discrimination on the basis of children or benefits status, by adding to the list of benefits legislation and adding persons who would be eligible for a council tax discount under the billing authority’s reductions scheme or who already receive a reduction.
Amendment 90, page 36, line 27, after “on” insert
“an agreement which may give rise to”.
This amendment makes it clear that a proposed letting is not excluded merely because it is possible that the dwelling will not be the tenant’s principal home (since in a case in which it is not the tenant’s principal home, the tenancy would not be an assured tenancy).
Amendment 91, page 37, line 2, at end insert—
“(2) In this Chapter a reference to doing something on the basis of particular facts includes reference to doing it on the basis of a belief in those facts.”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment is to make it clear that the prohibition applies where the relevant person believes the person against whom they are discriminating would have a child live with or visit them, or is a benefits claimant, even if that belief is erroneous.
Clause 37
Discrimination relating to children or benefits status: Welsh language
Amendments made: 92, page 37, line 23, after “annedd” insert
“, neu y gallai plentyn fyw gyda pherson neu ymweld â pherson yn yr annedd,”.
This amendment aligns this provision with the similar one being inserted for Scotland and ensures that it is an offence for a landlord or agent to discriminate against people with children on that basis even if they were not sure that children would live with or visit the person.
Amendment 93, page 38, line 12, leave out “darpar landlord” and insert
“person sydd wedi ei yswirio”.
This amendment ensures that the closing words of section 8A(3) that the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 refer back to either the prospective landlord or the superior landlord mentioned in the opening words.
Amendment 94, page 38, line 19, after
“bod person yn hawlydd budd-daliadau”
insert
“neu y gallai fod yn hawlydd budd-daliadau”.
This amendment aligns this provision with the similar one being inserted for Scotland and ensures that it is an offence for a landlord or agent to discriminate against benefits claimants on that basis even if they were not sure that the person was a benefits claimant.
Amendment 95, page 38, line 41, leave out “darpar landlord” and insert
“person sydd wedi ei yswirio”.
This amendment ensures that the closing words of section 8B(2) that the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 refer back to either the prospective landlord or the superior landlord mentioned in the opening words.
Amendment 96, page 42, leave out lines 5 to 10.
This amendment removes section 8J which the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019. The substance of section 8J is reinserted into the Bill by a new clause.
Amendment 97, page 42, line 11, leave out “8K” and insert “8J”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 96.
Amendment 98, page 42, line 22, after “taliadau” insert
“(gan gynnwys taliadau a wneir yn uniongyrchol i landlord)”.
This amendment is to the text that the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 and makes it clear that entitlement to payments which are made directly to a landlord may qualify a person as a benefits claimant.
Amendment 99, page 42, line 26, at end insert—
“(b) sydd â hawl i gael taliadau (gan gynnwys taliadau a wneir yn uniongyrchol i landlord) o dan neu yn rhinwedd Deddf Ceiswyr Gwaith 1995, Deddf Credyd Pensiwn y Wladwriaeth 2002, Deddf Credydau Treth 2002, Deddf Diwygio Lles 2007 neu Ddeddf Pensiynau 2014,
(c) sy’n cael gostyngiad yn swm y dreth gyngor sy’n daladwy mewn perthynas â chartref presennol y person o dan gynllun a wneir gan awdurdod bilio o dan neu yn rhinwedd adran 13A o Ddeddf Cyllid Llywodraeth Leol 1992, neu
(d) a fyddai â’r hawl i gael gostyngiad yn swm y dreth gyngor sy’n daladwy mewn perthynas â’r annedd o dan sylw o dan gynllun a wneir gan yr awdurdod bilio y mae’r annedd yn ei ardal o dan neu yn rhinwedd adran 13A o Ddeddf Cyllid Llywodraeth Leol 1992, pe bai’r person—
(i) yn rhentu’r annedd o dan gontract meddiannaeth, a
(ii) os yw gwneud cais yn rhagamod ar gyfer hawlio gostyngiad, yn gwneud cais i’r awdurdod bilio am ostyngiad o dan y cynllun.”
This amendment expands the definition of “benefits claimant” which applies for the purposes of the provisions that the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 about discrimination on the basis of children or benefits status.
Amendment 100, page 42, line 34, at end insert—
“(2) Yn y Rhan hon, mae cyfeiriad at wneud rhywbeth ar sail ffeithiau penodol yn cynnwys cyfeiriad at wneud hynny ar sail cred yn y ffeithiau hynny.”
This amendment is to make it clear that the offence created by section 8A that the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 may be committed where the relevant person believes the person against whom they are discriminating would have a child live with or visit them or is a benefits claimant even if that belief is erroneous.
Amendment 101, page 43, line 17, leave out “8K” and insert “8J”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 96.
Amendment 102, page 43, line 30, leave out “adran 8J,” —(Jacob Young.)
This amendment is consequential on amendment 96.
Clause 38
Discrimination relating to children or benefits status: English language
Amendments made: 103, page 44, line 7, after “would” insert “or may”.
This amendment aligns this provision with the similar one being inserted for Scotland and ensures that it is an offence for a landlord or agent to discriminate against people with children on that basis even if they were not sure that children would live with or visit the person.
Amendment 104, page 44, line 31, leave out “prospective landlord” and insert “insured”.
This amendment ensures that the closing words of section 8A(3) that the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 refer back to either the prospective landlord or the superior landlord mentioned in the opening words.
Amendment 105, page 44, line 38, after “is” insert “or may be”.
This amendment aligns this provision with the similar one being inserted for Scotland and ensures that it is an offence for a landlord or agent to discriminate against benefits claimants on that basis even if they were not sure that the person was a benefits claimant.
Amendment 106, page 45, line 16, leave out “prospective landlord” and insert “insured”
This amendment ensures that the closing words of section 8B(2) that the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 refer back to either the prospective landlord or the superior landlord mentioned in the opening words.
Amendment 107, page 48, leave out lines 14 to 19.
This amendment removes section 8J which the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019. The substance of section 8J is reinserted into the Bill by a new clause.
Amendment 108, page 48, line 20, leave out “8K” and insert “8J”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 107.
Amendment 109, page 48, line 23, after “payments” insert “(including payments made directly to a landlord)”
This amendment is to the text that the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 and makes it clear that entitlement to payments which are made directly to a landlord may qualify a person as a benefits claimant.
Amendment 110, page 48, line 26, at end insert—
“(b) is entitled to payments (including payments made directly to a landlord) under or by virtue of the Jobseekers Act 1995, the State Pension Credit Act 2002, the Tax Credits Act 2002, the Welfare Reform Act 2007 or the Pensions Act 2014,
(c) is in receipt of a reduction in the amount of council tax payable in respect of the person’s current home under a scheme made by a billing authority under or by virtue of section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, or
(d) would be entitled to a reduction in the amount of council tax payable in respect of the dwelling in question under a scheme made by the billing authority in whose area the dwelling is situated under or by virtue of section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, if the person were to—
(i) rent the dwelling under an occupation contract, and
(ii) if an application is a precondition of entitlement, apply to the billing authority for a reduction under the scheme.”
This amendment expands the definition of “benefits claimant” which applies for the purposes of the provisions that the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 about discrimination on the basis of children or benefits status.
Amendment 111, page 48, line 40, at end insert—
“(2) In this Part a reference to doing something on the basis of particular facts includes reference to doing it on the basis of a belief in those facts.”
This amendment is to make it clear that the offences created by sections 8A and 8B that the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 may be committed where the relevant person believes the person against whom they are discriminating would have a child live with or visit them or is a benefits claimant even if that belief is erroneous.
Amendment 112, page 49, line 19, leave out “8K” and insert “8J”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 107.
Amendment 113, page 49, line 32, leave out “section 8J,”. —(Jacob Young.)
This amendment is consequential on amendment 107.
Clause 40
Regulations
Amendment made: 115, page 51, line 2, leave out “or 8J”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 107.
Amendment made: 116, page 51, line 3, after “this Act)” insert
“or section (Power of Welsh Ministers to extend protection to persons of other descriptions)(1) of this Act”.—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment is consequential on amendment 107 and amendment NC16.
Ordered,
That clause 40 be transferred to the end of line 34 on page 53. —(Jacob Young.)
Clause 41
Amendments of Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 regarding discrimination
Amendments made: 117, page 52, line 3, leave out from “rhag” to end of line 5 and insert—
“bod yn hawlydd budd-daliadau o fewn yr ystyr a roddir gan adran 8J o Ddeddf Rhentu Cartrefi (Ffioedd, Gwahaniaethu etc.) (Cymru) 2019.”
This amendment cross-refers to the definition of “benefits claimant” which the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 about discrimination on the basis of children or benefits status, as amended by amendment 99.
Amendment 118, page 53, line 16, leave out from “from” to end of line 18 and insert—
“being a benefits claimant within the meaning given by section 8J of the Renting Homes (Fees, Discrimination etc.) (Wales) Act 2019.”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment cross-refers to the definition of “benefits claimant” which the Bill inserts into the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 about discrimination on the basis of children or benefits status, as amended by amendment 110.
Clause 44
Meaning of “residential landlord”
Amendments made: 119, page 58, line 34, leave out
“an assured tenancy that is a sub-tenancy”,
and insert “a relevant tenancy”.
This amendment, together with amendment 120, allows regulations under clause 44(4)(a) to change the meaning of residential landlord so as to cover superior landlords in relation to a relevant tenancy as well as, or instead of, the immediate landlord. This will allow Part 2 to cover superior landlords under rent-to-rent arrangements where the occupier is a licensee as well as where the occupier is a tenant.
Amendment 120, page 59, line 1, after “to” insert “or instead of”.
This amendment, together with amendment 119, allows regulations under clause 44(4)(a) that change the meaning of residential landlord to provide for the term to cover superior landlords instead of immediate landlords.
Amendment 121, page 59, line 19, at end insert—
“(4A) Kinds of tenancy or licence added or removed under subsection (4)(b) may be identified by reference to any matters connected directly or indirectly with a tenancy or licence, including the characteristics or circumstances of any person who is so connected.”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment is designed to make it clear that the Secretary of State can add or remove tenancies by reference to any connected matters, including the characteristics or circumstances of connected persons such as the landlord or the tenant.
Clause 46
Approval and designation of landlord redress schemes
Amendments made: 122, page 61, line 19, leave out “which” and insert—
“(2A) The conditions”.
This and amendment 129 are clarificatory amendments ensuring that the specific provision in the Bill about conditions of approval for redress scheme does not limit the Secretary of State’s discretion about what other conditions to include in the regulations on that topic.
Amendment 123, page 61, line 21, leave out from “the” in the first place it occurs, to “to” in line 23 and insert “appointment of an individual”.
This amendment removes the provision for regulations under clause 46 to require a scheme to provide for the administrator, with the Secretary of State’s approval, to appoint the individual who oversees complaints. This will enable the regulations to impose a wider range of conditions about that individual, for example (given clause 46(7) as amended by amendment 131) provision for the Secretary of State to appoint them.
Amendment 124, page 61, line 24, at end insert—
“(aa) about the terms and conditions of that individual and the termination of their appointment,”
This amendment ensures that a scheme will have to include provision, in accordance with regulations under clause 46, about terms and conditions of the individual who oversees complaints and the termination of that individual’s appointment. Given clause 46(7) as amended by amendment 131, regulations could, for example, provide for the Secretary of State to be able to decide that the individual’s appointment should be terminated.
Amendment 125, page 61, line 35, leave out “under other redress schemes” and insert
“in relation to other kinds of complaint”.
This amendment widens the reference to complaints in clause 46(2)(e) so that it is not limited to complaints under redress schemes.
Amendment 126, page 62, line 3, after first “of” insert
“, and the investigation and determination of complaints under,”.
This amendment clarifies that the requirement for fee income to be sufficient to meet costs of administering voluntary aspects of a redress scheme also applies in relation to the costs of investigation and determination of complaints under those aspects of a scheme.
Amendment 127, page 62, line 30, leave out “under subsection (2)(n)” and insert
“by virtue of subsection (2A)(n)”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 122.
Amendment 128, Clause 46, page 62, line 34, leave out “under subsection (2)(n)” and insert
“by virtue of subsection (2A)(n)”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 122.
Amendment 129, page 62, line 38, at end insert—
“(5A) Subsections (2A) to (5) do not limit the conditions that may be set out in regulations under subsection (2).”
This and amendment 122 are clarificatory amendments ensuring that the specific provision in the Bill about conditions of approval for a redress scheme does not limit the Secretary of State’s discretion about what other conditions to include in the regulations on that topic.
Amendment 130, page 63, line 6, after “scheme” insert
“and the investigation and determination of complaints under those aspects of the scheme”.
This amendment clarifies that fees can be calculated by reference to the costs of investigation and determination of complaints under the compulsory aspects of a redress scheme (as well as its wider administration).
Amendment 131, page 63, line 8, leave out from “may” to end of line 9 and insert—
“(a) confer functions (including functions involving the exercise of a discretion) on the Secretary of State, or authorise or require a scheme to do so;
(b) provide for the delegation of such functions by the Secretary of State, or authorise or require a scheme to provide for that.”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment makes it clear that regulations under clause 46 can confer functions on the Secretary of State (whether or not they involve a discretion) and can make provision for the delegation of such functions.
Clause 52
Housing activities under social rented sector scheme
Amendments made: 132, page 66, line 27, leave out “paragraph 4 of paragraph 2(1),” and insert
“paragraph 2(1)—
(a) in paragraph 4,”
This amendment is consequential on amendment 133.
Amendment 133, page 66, line 30, at end insert—
“(b) after paragraph 7 insert—
“7A Where the scheme provides for the housing ombudsman to be employed by the person administering the scheme, provision for the enforcement of directions given under paragraph 10(3)(b).””
This amendment ensures that a scheme which provides for the housing ombudsman to be employed by the scheme administrator will have to include provision for enforcing any direction given by the Secretary of State requiring the administrator to cease to employ the individual who is housing ombudsman as housing ombudsman.
Amendment 134, page 67, line 4, at end insert—
“(4A) For paragraph 10 substitute—
“10 “(1) The housing ombudsman for the purposes of an approved scheme is to be appointed by the Secretary of State on such terms as the Secretary of State thinks fit.
(2) The Secretary of State may at any time remove a housing ombudsman from office.
(3) In relation to an approved scheme which provides for the housing ombudsman to be employed by the person administering the scheme—
(a) the reference in sub-paragraph (1) to the terms on which the housing ombudsman is appointed includes a reference to the terms of the housing ombudsman’s employment by that person;
(b) the power of the Secretary of State under sub-paragraph (2) to remove a housing ombudsman from office includes power to give the person administering the scheme a direction in writing to cease to employ the individual who is housing ombudsman as housing ombudsman (and a direction under this paragraph may be revoked or varied by a further direction under this paragraph).
(4) Where an approved scheme does not provide that it is to be administered by a body corporate—
(a) the Secretary of State may by order provide that the housing ombudsman for the purposes of the scheme is to be a corporation sole, and
(b) the staff to administer the scheme and otherwise assist the ombudsman in the discharge of functions are to be appointed and employed by the ombudsman.
(5) Where an approved scheme provides that it is to be administered by a body corporate the Secretary of State may delegate functions under sub-paragraph (1) or (2) to the body administering the scheme.
(6) A delegation under sub-paragraph (5) may specify—
(a) the extent to which the functions are delegated;
(b) any conditions to which the delegation is subject.
(7) A delegation under sub-paragraph (5)—
(a) must be in writing;
(b) may be varied or revoked by the Secretary of State, in writing, at any time;
(c) does not prevent the Secretary of State from exercising the functions.
(8) A housing ombudsman is not to be regarded as the servant or agent of the Crown or as enjoying any status, privilege or immunity of the Crown or as exempt from any tax, duty, rate, levy or other charge whatsoever, whether general or local, and any property held by a housing ombudsman is not to be regarded as property of, or held on behalf of, the Crown.””—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment substitutes a new paragraph 10 into Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1996, which will provide for the Secretary of State to appoint and remove the housing ombudsman whether or not the scheme is administered by a body corporate, and to be able to delegate those functions to the administrator of a housing ombudsman scheme where the administrator is a body corporate.
Clause 66
Use of information from the database
Amendment made: 135, page 77, line 5, leave out “this Part” and insert
“the provisions of the landlord legislation for which it is responsible”.—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment will allow a lead enforcement authority to use information obtained from the database for purposes connected with any provisions of the landlord legislation (as defined in clause 79(5)) for which it is responsible.
Clause 72
Interpretation of Chapter 3
Amendments made: 136, page 81, line 26, leave out “has the same meaning” and insert
“and “the landlord legislation” have the same meanings”.
This amendment provides for the definition of “the landlord legislation” in Part 4 also to apply for the purposes of Chapter 3 of Part 2, and is consequential on amendment 135.
Amendment 137, page 81, line 29, at end insert—
“(2) Section 83(6) (lead enforcement authority “responsible” for the provisions of the landlord legislation) applies for the purposes of this Chapter as it applies for the purposes of Part 4.”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment provides for clause 83(6), which identifies the provisions of the landlord legislation for which a lead enforcement authority is responsible, to apply for the purposes of Chapter 3 of Part 2 as it applies for the purposes of Part 4. This amendment is consequential on amendment 135.
Clause 78
Rent repayment orders
Amendment made: 196, page 86, line 33, at end insert—
“(7) In section 52 (interpretation), after subsection (2) insert—
“(3) In the case of an application for a rent repayment order made, or to be made, against a superior landlord—
(a) references in this Chapter to the landlord are to be read as references to the superior landlord, and
(b) housing in relation to which the person in question is a superior landlord is to be treated for the purposes of this Chapter as let by that person.””—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment ensures that references to a landlord, and to housing let by a landlord, in the provisions of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 dealing with rent repayment orders, work satisfactorily in cases involving orders made against superior landlords.
Clause 90
Business premises: entry without warrant
Amendment made: 138, page 95, line 39, leave out paragraph (a).—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment removes the exception from the meaning of “routine inspection” for cases where a breach of or offence under rented accommodation legislation is suspected. This exception was an error. It would apply to every inspection given that the powers in clauses 94 and 95 are limited to cases in which there is such a suspected breach or offence.
Clause 109
Interpretation
Amendments made: 139, page 107, line 29, at end insert—
““lease” includes any tenancy;”
This amendment makes it clear that the references to a lease in the Bill are to be read widely as including any tenancy.
Amendment 197, page 107, line 32, after “London” insert
“(in its capacity as a local authority)”.—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment makes it clear that the reference to the Common Council of the City of London in clause 109 is to that Council in its capacity as a local authority.
Clause 112
Regulations
Amendments made: 140, page 109, line 30, after “power” insert “of the Secretary of State and the Scottish Ministers”
This amendment is consequential on amendment 141.
Amendment 141, page 109, line 33, at end insert—
“(2A) The power of the Welsh Ministers under subsection (1)(a) to make transitional provision includes power to provide for regulations to apply (with or without modifications) in relation to occupation contracts granted, renewed or continued, or advertising begun, before the date on which the regulations come into force.”
This amendment clarifies that the power of the Welsh Ministers to make transitional provision in connection with regulations under Chapter 4 extends to pre-existing occupation contracts.
Amendment 142, page 109, line 34, at end insert “, except where they are made by the Scottish Ministers (see section 27 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 10))”
This amendment disapplies the provision for regulations under the Bill to be made by statutory instrument in relation to new regulation-making powers of the Scottish Ministers that are added by other amendments. Regulations of the Scottish Ministers are made by Scottish statutory instrument as a result of the 2010 asp referred to in the amendment.
Amendment 143, page 109, line 35, after “section” insert
“(Powers of Secretary of State in connection with Chapter 1)”.
This amendment is consequential on new clause NC14 and provides for regulations under it to be subject to affirmative procedure in Parliament.
Amendment 144, page 109, line 35, after “34,” insert
“(Power of Secretary of State to extend protection to persons of other descriptions: Wales), (Power of Secretary of State to extend protection to persons of other descriptions: Scotland)”.
This amendment provides for the new powers of the Secretary of State to make provision regarding discrimination in Wales and Scotland where there is a restriction because of legislative competence to be exercised using the affirmative resolution procedure.
Amendment 221, page 109, line 41, at end insert
“, unless it contains regulations under section 83(3) only”.
This amendment makes regulations under clause 83(3) (transitional or saving provision which applies when there is a change in lead enforcement authority) subject to no parliamentary procedure.
Amendment 145, page 109, line 41, at end insert—
“(5A) A statutory instrument containing regulations made by the Welsh Ministers under section (Power of Welsh Ministers to extend protection to persons of other descriptions)(1) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of Senedd Cymru.”
This amendment is consequential on amendment NC16 and provides for the power granted to the Welsh Ministers to be subject to the affirmative procedure.
Amendment 146, page 109, line 41, at end insert—
“(5B) Regulations made by the Scottish Ministers under section (Power of the Scottish Ministers to extend protection to persons of other descriptions) are subject to the affirmative procedure (see section 29 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 10)).”
This amendment is consequential on amendment NC21 and provides for the power granted to the Scottish Ministers to be subject to the affirmative procedure.
Amendment 222, page 109, line 41, at end insert—
“(5C) If a draft of a statutory instrument containing regulations under section 45 would, apart from this subsection, be treated for the purposes of the standing orders of either House of Parliament as a hybrid instrument, it is to proceed in that House as if it were not a hybrid instrument.”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment prevents the hybrid instruments procedures in Parliament from applying in relation to regulations under clause 45 of the Bill.
Clause 114
Power of Secretary of State to make consequential provision
Amendments made: 147, page 111, line 4, at end insert—
“(b) in relation to regulations that make provision that is consequential on Chapter 1 or 2 of Part 1, power to provide for pre-application instruments which the Secretary of State considers do not (or will not) operate appropriately as a result of any provision of the regulations to—
(i) have effect with specified modifications, or
(ii) cease to have effect (in whole or in part).
(4A) For the purposes of subsection (4)(b)—
(a) ‘pre-application instrument’ means an agreement or other instrument made before the regulations come into force;
(b) the circumstances in which the Secretary of State may consider that a pre-application instrument does not operate appropriately as a result of regulations under this section include (but are not limited to) those in which—
(i) as a result of any provision of the regulations, provision made by the instrument is to any extent spent, obsolete, unnecessary or otherwise not of practical utility;
(ii) as a result of any provision of the regulations, it is unclear what the effect is of provision made by the instrument;
(iii) as a result of any provision of the regulations, a person may be placed in breach of obligations arising under the instrument or made subject to more burdensome obligations under the instrument;
(iv) the instrument makes direct or indirect reference to any enactment as it had effect before being amended by the regulations.
(4B) Regulations made by virtue of subsection (4)(b) must provide that they do not prevent—
(a) the variation or revocation of provision modified by the regulations, or
(b) the re-making of provision that has ceased to have effect as a result of the regulations.
(4C) Regulations made by virtue of subsection (4)(b) may apply to an instrument as it has effect in relation to times before the coming into force of the regulations but after the commencement date (within the meaning given by section (Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(1)(a)).”
This amendment makes provision like amendment 156 but in relation to consequential amendments made under clause 114 in consequence of Chapter 1 or 2 of Part 1 of the Bill. It allows regulations to make transitional provision modifying instruments (e.g. leases, mortgage agreements, insurance contracts) that were drafted under the law as it stood before the regulations and so do not operate appropriately alongside them.
Amendment 148, page 111, line 7, after “Act” insert “, or
(b) are made by virtue of subsection (4)(b),”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment is consequential on amendment 147 and ensures that regulations that modify instruments are subject to affirmative procedure in Parliament.
Clause 115
Financial penalties: procedure, appeals and enforcement
Amendments made: 149, page 111, line 13, leave out “subsection” and insert “subsections (1A) to”
This amendment is consequential on amendment 150.
Amendment 150 , page 111, line 13, at end insert—
“(1A) In Part 1, Chapter 4A extends to Scotland only.
(1B) This Part extends to England, Wales and Scotland.”—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment adjusts the extent of the Bill to take account of the clauses which have been added which relate to Scotland.
Clause 116
Commencement and application
Amendment made: 151, page 111, line 16, leave out clause 116—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment and amendments NC27 and NC28 are, together, intended to achieve the result that clause 116 is replaced with two clauses, one dealing with commencement and one dealing with application of Chapter 1 of Part 1.
Amendment proposed: 28, page 111, line 19, at end insert
“, save that section 2(b) comes into force on the day on which this Act is passed only to the extent that it repeals section 21 of the Housing Act 1988; such repeal will not affect the validity of any notices served under that provision on or before the day on which this Act is passed and the provisions of that section will continue to apply to any claims issued in respect of such a notice”.—(Matthew Pennycook.)
This amendment would ensure that the abolition of section 21 evictions would come into force on Royal Assent, with saving provisions for any notices served before that date.
18:03

Division 139

Ayes: 158


Labour: 136
Liberal Democrat: 12
Independent: 5
Democratic Unionist Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Workers Party of Britain: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 282


Conservative: 274

Clause 117
Transitional provision
Amendments made: 152, page 113, line 2, leave out “order” and insert “regulations”.
This amendment provides for the Welsh Ministers’ power to make transitional provision to be exercisable by regulations rather than by order.
Amendment 153, page 113, line 4, at end insert—
“(1A) The Scottish Ministers may by regulations make transitional or saving provision in connection with the coming into force of any provision of Chapter 4A of Part 1 (see section 27 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 10), as a result of which such regulations are to be made by Scottish statutory instrument).”
This amendment allows the Scottish Ministers to make transitional or saving provision in connection with the coming into force of the new Chapter 4A of Part 1 (containing prohibitions on discrimination in relation to tenancies in Scotland).
Amendment 154, page 113, line 9, leave out “an order” and insert “regulations”.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 152.
Amendment 155, page 113, line 12, at end insert—
“(3A) The power to make regulations under subsection (1A) includes power to provide for a provision of Chapter 4A of Part 1 to apply (with or without modifications) in relation to tenancies entered into, or advertising begun, before the date on which the provision comes into force.”
This amendment ensures that the power of the Scottish Ministers to make transitional provision in connection with the coming into force of the new Chapter 4A of Part 1 (containing prohibitions on discrimination in relation to tenancies in Scotland) is of the same breadth as the corresponding powers of the Welsh Ministers and the Secretary of State.
Amendment 156, page 113, line 16, at end insert—
“(b) power to provide for pre-application instruments which the Secretary of State considers do not (or will not) operate appropriately as a result of any provision of Chapter 1 or 2 of Part 1 to—
(i) have effect with specified modifications, or
(ii) cease to have effect (in whole or in part).
(4A) For the purposes of subsection (4)(b)—
(a) “pre-application instrument” means an agreement or other instrument made before the extended application date (within the meaning given by section (Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(3));
(b) the circumstances in which the Secretary of State may consider that a pre-application instrument does not operate appropriately as a result of Chapter 1 or 2 of Part 1 include (but are not limited to) those in which—
(i) as a result of any provision of Chapter 1 or 2 of Part 1, provision made by the instrument is to any extent spent, obsolete, unnecessary or otherwise not of practical utility;
(ii) as a result of any provision of Chapter 1 or 2 of Part 1, it is unclear what the effect is of provision made by the instrument;
(iii) as a result of any provision of Chapter 1 or 2 of Part 1, a person may be placed in breach of obligations arising under the instrument or made subject to more burdensome obligations under the instrument;
(iv) the instrument makes direct or indirect reference to fixed term assured tenancies or assured shorthold tenancies (within the meaning of Part 1 of the 1988 Act as it had effect immediately before the commencement date);
(v) the instrument makes direct or indirect reference to periodic assured tenancies that are not relevant assured tenancies within the meaning given by section (Sections 1 and 2: effect of superior leases);
(vi) the instrument otherwise makes direct or indirect reference to any enactment as it had effect before being amended by Chapter 1 or 2 of Part 1.
(4B) Regulations made by virtue of subsection (4)(b) must provide that they do not prevent—
(a) the variation or revocation of provision modified by the regulations, or
(b) the re-making of provision that has ceased to have effect as a result of the regulations.
(4C) Regulations made by virtue of subsection (4)(b) may apply to an instrument as it has effect in relation to times before the coming into force of the regulations but after the commencement date.
(4D) A statutory instrument containing regulations made by virtue of subsection (4)(b) (whether alone or with other provision) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
(4E) In this section “the commencement date” has the meaning given by section (Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1)(1)(a).”
This amendment allows the Secretary of State to make transitional provision modifying the effect of instruments (such as leases, mortgage agreements or insurance contracts) that were drafted under the law as it stood before the changes made by Chapters 1 and 2 of the Bill and so do not operate appropriately alongside those Chapters.
Amendment 157, page 113, line 17, leave out “subsections (1) and (2)” and insert “this section”.—(Jacob Young.)
This amendment is consequential on amendment 153.
New Schedule 1
Amendments in connection with landlord redress schemes
“Local Government Act 1974
1 (1) The Local Government Act 1974 is amended in accordance with paragraphs 2 to 5.
2 (1) Section 33 (consultation between Local Commissioner and other Commissioners and Ombudsmen) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1)—
(a) before paragraph (ba) insert—
“(bzc) under a landlord redress scheme,”;
(b) in the words after paragraph (c)—
(i) for “or Ombudsman” substitute “, Ombudsman or head of landlord redress”;
(ii) before “the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2005” insert “the landlord redress scheme,”.
(3) In subsection (2)—
(a) before “the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales” insert “the head of landlord redress,”;
(b) for “Commissioner or that Ombudsman” substitute “person”.
(4) Before subsection (4) insert—
“(3C) If at any stage in the course of an investigation under a landlord redress scheme, the head of landlord redress forms the opinion that the complaint relates partly to a matter which could be the subject of an investigation under this Part of this Act, the head of landlord redress must consult with the appropriate Local Commissioner about the complaint and, if the head of landlord redress considers it necessary, inform the person initiating the complaint of the steps necessary to initiate a complaint under this Part of this Act.”
(5) In subsection (4)—
(a) for “or (3B)” substitute “, (3B) or (3C)”;
(b) for “or the new homes ombudsman scheme” substitute “, the new homes ombudsman scheme or a landlord redress scheme”.
3 (1) Section 33ZA (collaborative working between Local Commissioners and others) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1)—
(a) in paragraph (c) omit the final “or”;
(b) at the end of paragraph (d) insert “or
(e) an individual who investigates complaints under a landlord redress scheme,”.
(3) In subsection (1A) for “or (d)” substitute “, (d) or (e)”.
(4) After subsection (1A) insert—
“(1B) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (1A) a matter is “within the jurisdiction” of an individual who investigates complaints under a landlord redress scheme if it is a matter which could be the subject of an investigation under that scheme.”
(5) In subsection (3)—
(a) in paragraph (c) omit the final “or”;
(b) at the end of paragraph (d) insert “or
(e) an individual who investigates complaints under a landlord redress scheme,”;
(c) in the words following paragraph (d) for “or (d)” substitute “, (d) or (e)”.
4 In section 33ZB (arrangements for provision of administrative and other services), in subsection (4)—
(a) in paragraph (e) omit the final “and”;
(b) at the end of paragraph (f) insert “, and
(g) the administrator of a landlord redress scheme”.
5 In section 34 (interpretation) in subsection (1), at the appropriate places insert—
““landlord redress scheme” has the meaning given by section 45(2) of the Renters (Reform) Act 2024;”
““head of landlord redress” , in relation to a landlord redress scheme, means the person responsible for overseeing and monitoring the investigation and determination of complaints under the scheme;”.
Housing Act 1996
6 (1) Paragraph 10A of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1996 (housing complaints: collaborative working with Local Commissioners) is amended as follows.
(2) In sub-paragraph (1)—
(a) for “or the new homes ombudsman” substitute “, the new homes ombudsman or an individual who investigates complaints under a landlord redress scheme”;
(b) for the words from “that Commissioner” to the end substitute “any one or more of them”.
(3) After sub-paragraph (1) insert—
“(1A) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1) a matter is “within the jurisdiction” of an individual who investigates complaints under a landlord redress scheme if it is a matter which could be the subject of an investigation under that scheme.”
(4) In sub-paragraph (3)—
(a) for “or the new homes ombudsman” substitute “, the new homes ombudsman or an individual who investigates complaints under a landlord redress scheme (or two or more of them)”;
(b) for the words from “that Commissioner” to the end substitute “them”.
(