9 million renters. One missed opportunity.

Today, the Tenancies (Reform) Bill failed to progress because Philip Davies and Christopher Chope chose to filibuster it. Every other MP that spoke in the debate wholeheartedly supported the bill – including the government minister. Yet these MPs forced the bill to run out of time.

Private members bills can only be debated on certain days, at certain times. Each year a select number of Fridays are dedicated to private members bills. Backbench MPs can debate their bills from 9.30am till 2.30pm. If the debate has not finished by 2.30pm then the bill falls.

This happened to the Tenancies (Reform) Bill. A bill that would have improved life for 9 million renters and 1.3 million renting families no longer exists.

It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.

However, this is far from over. Over 17,000 people have signed a petition. Tens of thousands of people have contacted their MP. And the government have listened.

Not only that, policy has been drafted. Really good policy.

Less than six months from a general election, all the major parties have recognised how important the renter vote has become. We now have consensus that legislative action is needed – and we will secure this change.

Without the ‘9 million renters’ campaign and without the Tenancies (Reform) Bill we would not be in this position. In May 2015 there will be no excuse for not placing an end to revenge eviction at the heart of the next government’s promise to renters.

‘Parliament at its best’

At the start of the day, Stephen Gilbert MP remarked that this debate showed ‘Parliament at its best’. And indeed it did. Sixty MPs from all the main parties turned up, put aside their partisan interests and supported a bill that would have made an enormous difference to renters in their constituencies.

Unfortunately, the debate ended with Parliament at its most disappointing. A procedural quirk allowed this bill to be defeated. But we won’t be defeated again. From our wonderful supporters to our impassioned legislators – we will make this happen.

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47 Comments
  1. How very convenient for the government.

  2. Everyone should write to this pair of scum bags telling them what we think of them.

    1. Two Tory MPs, eh? Scumbags is too kind a word for these arrogant people. My suggestions wouldn’t be printed. I wonder if they’ve ever been in private rented accommodation and got thrown out after daring to report water dripping through the ceiling and their child’s asthma worsening? What possible motive could these MPs have for wrecking this bill? Are they private landlords themselves, I wonder? They certainly need an empathy implant before canvassing the next election.

      1. I’ve asked my local MP if labour (for she is a labour MP) has any plans to reform parliament to address the abuse of process that makes filibustering effective. I see no reason we should have any parliamentary process be derailed by just two people. Sounds pretty broken to me.

      2. One of them declared an interest at the start of his speech to say that he was a tenant and that he had not experienced the problem. He also said that he was a tenant of two properties and that he was also a landlord. It seems doubtful that his type of contract would be subject to the difficulties experienced by most.

        One of them declared that he used to landlord & tenant litigation for both sides. I am not sure which of them but one also complained that the Bill would bring back security of tenure.

        He may have been a little bit economical with the truth unless he was a very poor lawyer

  3. ALSONTHAY SOULD BRING BACK SUGURE TANACYS FOR COUNCIL HOUSING SO WE ARE NOT FORCHED UNDER PRIVATE GREEDY LANDLORDS

  4. Lets name and shame those two bigots…who are probably favoured by the landlord and make sure that these two people do not win next election and are made example of. It is really disgraceful way to perform and it is a travesty for a democratic process.

    1. The problem is not that the two MPs talked out the Bill, but that, despite their claims to support the bill in principle, the major parties could not get 100 MPs there to vote for it.

      I think that Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour are equally to blame, and all should be ashamed for not providing their support.

      1. But there was never a vote, right? Because it was talked out, at which point the bill fails automatically.

        1. Wrong.
          There was a vote. It was held with 30 minutes remaining for the debate. It was a procedural vote that a vote on the Bill now be put. That vote was 60 for, 0 against. The house rules say that for the proedural vote to be valid at least 100 members must vote.
          That failure meant that the guy speaking against the Bill could continue. He then talked to the end of the time allocated.

          If 100 members had voted, then it would immediately have moved to a vote on the Bill, which would have been passed.

          So, it comes down to the fact that all the parties failed to provide sufficient members in favour of the Bill on the day.

          1. The age old problem of attendance. Perhaps procedural votes should be based on percentages of those present in the proceedings, rather than hard limits. That might encourage everyone to attend – both those for, and against.

          2. No, it comes down to parties and MPs giving positive sound bites but failing to deliver.

  5. Mr Davies and Mr Chope must be very pleased with themselves. I wonder how Mr Cameron feels about it. Is this the TRUE FACE of Conservatism, after all ?

  6. CHRISTCHURCH and SHIPLEY are the two areas represented by the filibustering MP’s in case you were curious. One might suggest that if you live in these areas you carefully consider all your available options before voting in the general election next year. When there was cross party support for the motion one seriously has to question why 2 honourable gentlemen made such an effort to filibuster a bill that had such wide support?

  7. I know
    this would happen, my MP told us in June (he words ) you better get out , when
    we told him about our section 21(4)a and it failed we are on our second notice
    section 21(4)a notice from the landlord , it came about despair
    and fraudulent gas certificates the landlord placed with HSE. yes we made
    our complaint to HSE and gas safe guess what happened …..if got a story send
    it to me http://www.tenantsnightmare.website email address michaellockyear@hotmail.com

    well I have come with idea and I am about to
    publish it in 02/2015 , I have had 100% feedback on it of good intensions as
    with everyone of the 9 million I am fed up , if I do not do this and get
    backing on the idea , then I have got two choices , leave the uk or stay and
    fight , but next year if you rent from an agent you have got to give them ID
    and all your personal details before you can rent ..opening the doors for fraud
    with your details .

    Michael
    Lockyear

  8. and yes the MP is a Tory, so I did some digging on the MP . guess what he is a land owner and a private landlord .. said it all which said of the fence he is on .

  9. If this becomes the big we’ll ensure this new law is passed in 2015 when David Cameron stays in power, we need to oust him from Government immediately. The blockers of the subject were probably his cronies and should expelled from all parties

  10. What a complete waste of time! What a completely out dated & bureaucratic load of crap! How very disappointing ! They should be ashamed of themselves!!!!!!!!

  11. typical torys, shameful act well revenge is best served cold..just remember there names when the general election takes place in 6 months time…i wont be suprised if either of thses two M.P.s rent out private propertys…its all about the greedy!! and never the needy with this goverment…times are changing …and lets not let those two M.P forget we elect them we can get rid of them just as easy….p.s not that i would ever vote for a tory !!!

  12. Hopes of blocking landlords from evicting tenants who complain about problems in their home were dashed today — after a Tory MP used an hour-long speech to ‘talk out’ the Tenancies (Reform) Bill. Protections against retaliatory eviction now stand little chance of becoming law, despite enjoying cross-party and government support.

    As declared in the debate, the register of members’ interests for hard-right crackpot Philip Davies reveals that he himself owns a rented flat in the capital:

    8. Land and Property
    Flat in London from which rental income is received. (Registered 18 September 2012)

    Having endured an hour of Davies’ drivel — designed purely to block the passage of bill — shouts of “outrageous” resounded across the chamber when the Shipley MP suggested the deputy speaker was biased in invoking an obscure parliamentary procedure to obligate him to conclude his speech:

  13. Neither of these ‘MPs’ believe in democracy except for keeping them in money. Chope disgraced himself when 38Degrees presented the case for Parliamentary reform, stating that 38D had no democratic mandate despite being a couple of million strong.
    As for P Davies, he is the boy who learned to shock grown-ups by saying ‘poo’ but, like other small boys, has persisted in repeating it for decades after. His connections to the gambling industry mean he is part of the problem: High street blight, addiction and money laundering.
    Are these nasty objects really deserving of a place in Parliament?

  14. Surely it is time to end the filibuster technique !

  15. I am a landlord.
    I found the arguments of the two Con MPs pitiful; behaviour that gets decent landlords (and there are a lot of us) a bad name.
    I support the call for revenge evictions to be banned. However, the bill as it stood was full of holes and opportunities for bad tenants to exploit and unfair on decent landlords. For example, the proposal on mortgages would have made it commercially unviable for a landlord to remortgage whilst a tenant was in place (most landlord mortgages are 2 or 3 year deals), so would lead to tenants being served S21 notices just to allow a necessary commercial transaction to go through.
    What we need is for tenant and landlord organisations to work together with parliament to ensure that legislation is passed that protect both tenants from bad landlords and protects landlords from bad tenants without having a significant impact on decent landlords (any additional costs to landlords ultimately mean higher rents to tenants)

    1. Do you really think Shelter will want to play fair? They are on sided.

      According to the speech by Sarath Tether, she said Shelter drafted this amendment, so you know it is full of loopholes, to help problem tenants to evade paying rent and damaging the property.

      I have problems with tenants who wreck properties, but I don’t want to be in a siltation where I am having to take them to Court to get them out, only for the tenants to claim it is revenge eviction and for me to loose the case, but to add insult to injury to be smeared as a landlord who carried out ‘revenge eviction’. The only way for me to get them out is to repair the things they have maliciously damaged, just so that I can get them out after 6 – 12 months.

      1. Do you seriously think that Shelter is going out of it’s way to assist people who wantonly damage their landlord’s property? Do you think that their primary or even secondary objective is to help the tiny minority of feckless idiots who destroy their own homes and fail to pay their rent?

        Have you actually read the amendment, or are you simply casting prejudice upon it because a body you evidently don’t trust was involved in it’s creation?

        1. “Do you seriously think that Shelter is going out of it’s way to assist people who wantonly damage their landlord’s property?”

          In my opinion, it is the cherry on the cake.

          See this, which I found:
          video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7SZ4-mpmIs

          Show me one piece of research / campaign from Shelter to show support for landlords who are victims and had their properties wrecked?.

          Why don’t they have any data of how many of those Section 21 and due to property damage?

          Here is the thing, if a Landlord provides bad housing, tenant can contact the council to prosecute the landlord (and end up with a criminal record under the Housing Act). But when a tenant wrecks a property. Can a landlord contact the council to prosecute the tenant?.

          If Shelter care so much for housing condition, why don’t they ever speak up for landlords who are victims?

          “Have you actually read the amendment”

          I don’t need to read the amendment. I know this to stitch up for landlords. Section 8 does not work and is open to abuse.

          The Deposit protection scheme does not work for landlords. Many of use find problem tenants stop paying rent before they leave in the mess (as per video).

          1. So, you want me to watch a video by someone who’s put together a slideshow of anecdote problem tenants (with no statistics – how many problem tenancies vs trouble free tenancies since the landlords started renting does this video illustrate?) but won’t even care to educate yourself about the facts of the proposed amendment? You are wilfully ignorant. You want your way, but don’t even know what you’re arguing against.

            Nobody (not even Shelter) has claimed that there aren’t bad tenants.

            Nobody (not even Shelter) has claimed that landlords should not have recourse for unfair damage and unpaid rent.

            Nobody (not even Shelter) is proposing extending additional protections to tenants that cause unfair damage or who don’t pay their rent.

            They might not care to campaign for landlords’ rights, but then you already have the NLA, MPs who are landlords, and the like for that. You hardly need more people defending your cause (in this case, seemingly, against all reason with fingers firmly in ears).

            You insist that you “know” the proposed amendment is a stitch up for landlords, but refuse to read the amendment itself and therefore know nothing, by your own admission. You are at this point indistinguishable from a religious fundamentalist, convinced of your viewpoint by nothing more than sheer faith and ideology.

            There is no possibility in your world view that there are in fact a great number of people effectively stuck in modern day slums who have very few choices in life that are subjected to bad landlords or that the legislation is actually a reasonably well defined attempt to prevent the abuse of generally weak parties (tenants) by those generally in positions of privilege (landlords).

            No doubt you get together with other landlords in a NLA event and all agree that you’re very good landlords who comply with the law, repair serious or dangerous defects as quickly as you would in your own homes, and that everyone is out to get you. That there may be liars among your group, or much more likely, the simple reality that the criminal element of landlords are hardly the type to turn up to association and club events, seems beyond your grasp.

            Right now you’re justifying shooting down improvements to the law for the most disadvantaged in society because “Shelter don’t care about landlords” and because you feel your profit margin isn’t good enough at the hands of the reckless tenants you’ve had.

            None of the proposed amendments would reduce a tenant’s responsibilities to pay their rent or return the property in a good condition, and if you’d bother to read it as one might reasonably expect business people to do with any proposed legislation that could affect their business, you’d see that’s the case.

            For the record, I was defrauded – though not by as much as the agent/landlord initially wanted – by my last landlord through the deposit protection service, so that “deposit protection doesn’t work” complaint most assuredly cuts both ways. That is not any kind of excuse against tightening the law where (unrelated) abuses exist.

          2. “who’s put together a slideshow of anecdote problem tenants (with no statistics – how many problem tenancies vs trouble free tenancies since the landlords started renting does this video ”

            That is up to you. This is what is happening in the ‘real world’!. This is what Landlords have to deal it. In my experience, the damage in the video is ‘medium’ grade. I have had much worse done to my properties.

            Landlord are individuals. I cannot report malicious damage to the Police (as they will say it is a civil matter). Environmental Health can’t do anything. Shelter are not interested (even though they say they care about ‘housing conditions’)

            But to give you some evidence. Here is an interesting article from Birmingham on their council housing.

            “Not only does it cost the city taxpayer an average £6,800 per property to clean up, but it can also take more than three months before the houses are fit for habitation – at a time when there are 30,000 people on council waiting lists.”

            Source: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/crackdown-on-birmingham-tenants-who-wreck-240719

            Sometimes I am a ‘slum landlord’, not because I gave the property like that, but because a rotten tenant has turned it into a slum. How is that fair to me or my future tenants?. You don’t have a clue how “some” bad people treat properties. Then I have to spend lots of money to fix and turn it back into some sort of habitable property….

            Landlords should be given all the help to keep rents are low as possible, such that tenants are able to save up and buy their own home.

            However, Landlords can’t do that if I have to deal with problem tenants.

            I have not read the amendment, because I watched the Parliament debate and they read it out. There are loop holes to help those tenants who wreck properties or want to stay not paying the rent. You are not a lawyer.

            When the ‘deposit protection scheme’ was introduced, Shelter asked for Landlords to be punished with 3 times the rent if they failed to protect the deposit, but nothing nothing to counter-balance, if the tenant stopped paying the rent a month ahead of the tenancy ending.
            (However, you should have seen the ‘chat’ on Shelter forum, about housing professionals looking at legal loopholes at ways to fleece landlords, out of this 3 times penalty).

            Without the deposit, what incentive is there for a tenant to look after a property?. Things like that push rents up.

            I am not here to stick up for bad landlords.

          3. I didn’t mean it as an insult so much as a statement of fact.

            You won’t read the act properly, you have prejudice against an organisation just because they’re one of the few not aligned with maintaining the status quo, you refuse to admit that everyone else’s experience of renting is NOT the same as yours, and oppose unrelated changes to the law on the basis that “I’m getting fucked, so everyone else should too! Whee!”.

            You’re either a troll OR you’re like white people who indignantly ask “but what about MY RIGHTS?!” whenever anyone of colour tries to improve their lot. Which would you rather be compared to?

    2. Hi MdeB

      Which proposal on mortgages? As far as mortgages are concerned I can only see in the bill a mention of tenants not being afforded the proposed protections in the event that the mortgagee is exercising their power of sale (eg: they have repossessed the property).

      1. The proposals are that the mortgage compant are only exempt from “cannot serve S21 if a complaint has been made” if the mortgage was in place before the tenancy started.

        1. You’re quite right – I missed that section. I kind of understand the reasoning behind that restriction being placed, but I’m not sure what difference it ultimately makes about it being in place at commencement given the fact that tenants broadly have no idea whether or not a mortgage is secured on their let property at commencement or otherwise. Presumably the intent is that remortgaging was not considered as a “new” mortgage, though it likely would be seen as such by the courts (and lenders when calculating risk). This could have course have been discussed in a reasoned debate – there is room for improvement here.

  16. I am currently in a Shared residence of 8 flats, where the landlord has
    totally neglected the property. It breaks all of the rules on being too
    cold. Windows with holes in, damp, water pouring through the bathroom
    ceilings and so on. The Environmental Health have got involved and tried
    to get the landlord in twice but has not attended either of the
    meetings. He has now evicted one of the tennants after she complained
    that the damp was making her ill. This has been with Environmental
    Health for months now and is costing the tax payers money. I think that
    it should be a legal and compulsory requirement that rental property’s
    should be inspected once a year. This way the landlords would have to
    keep the property up to proper standards if they wanted to continue
    renting. And it would not fall on the shoulders of the tennants, who for
    the most part, are too afraid to report the landlords for fear of what
    this bill was trying to stop, which is losing their homes. We inspect
    restaurants, shops, schools, why do the government think that peoples
    homes are any less important!

    1. If the property had such issues, then why did you move in?

      1. Perhaps because it was the best property on terms that they could afford in the area they need to live in?

        Perhaps because it was viewed on a warm summer’s evening and a lot of the maintenance issues aren’t obvious outside of winter or without the light of day?

        Perhaps it wasn’t like that from the outset (that is only your assumption), or perhaps they were promised that various defects would be resolved after they moved in?

        Perhaps they are in receipt of housing benefit (and are honest enough to admit to it) and are discriminated against by more “reputable” landlords?

        In any event, it doesn’t really matter – if you’re renting property for human beings to live in, there are reasonable minimum standards that everyone should expect to be met.

        Even some of the worst property rents extremely quickly, and if it doesn’t – you’re told it’s going to. You’re tired, you’ve been looking at what few flat or rooms you can find that you can afford for the past month, your current tenancy is coming to an end. This is the least terrible choice you’ve seen, and the “nice man” in the suit is sucking air through his teeth and telling you that he’s had a lot of interest in this particular property/room/shoebox. Now what? Go homeless? Become a defacto squatter in your current property? Go into (more) debt?

        In our rapidly inflating housing market that is heavily tilted in favour of owners you can’t expect people to make “smart” choices about where to move to when all they have to choose from to begin with are various “bad” choices.

        If we had a rental market that worked in the interests of everyone, we wouldn’t have agents treating sitting tenants as adversaries who can easily be replaced come renewal time (also see recent news coverage about the agent in Stoke Newington wanting over £1200 to change two tenants on an AST).

  17. Everyone knows the terms ‘revenge eviction’ was invented by Shelter. People who have been working as letting agents for 30 years have never heard of the term.

    If a Landlord does not carry out repairs, the tenants stop paying the rent.

    This is all about trying to sabotage Section 21. It will only help problem tenants.

    Every action has an opposite reaction. It will make it tougher for new tenants to find property, because landlords will insist on greater checks.

    1. First: Why should a landlord not carry out repairs that would be relevant under the scope of this amendment? You are legally obliged to carry out certain types of repair.

      Second: Most tenants don’t stop paying the rent when repairs don’t happen, because it’s not permitted under an AST to simply stop paying the rent. There are limited circumstances where they can make deductions to cover their own costs if they have had to effect repairs, but courts take a dim view on tenants that simply cease paying their rent. It would still not be permitted to cease paying the rent; there are no changes relating to rent other than the apportionment of prepaid rent (section 8 of the bill).

      Please read section two, subsection 1 of the bill which specifically states, front and center, that the tenant is not afforded any protections if they have failed to use the property in a “tenant-like manner” or is in breach of any express term in the tenancy to the same effect. This includes not paying the rent, and will equally include trashing the place.

      I wonder where you are getting your thoughts on this proposed amendment from. It’s certainly not from any possible interpretation of the bill as tabled. Here, try reading it: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2014-2015/0019/cbill_2014-20150019_en_1.htm

      1. I don’t need to read the amendment. The speech by Sarah Teather MP “I want to thank Shelter for drafting this legislation”. Is enough for me to know this is a Trojan Horse.

        ” Most tenants don’t stop paying the rent when repairs don’t happen, because it’s not permitted under an AST to simply stop paying the rent.”

        Thats another myth spread by Shelter.

        1. What’s a myth? That it’s not permitted to stop paying? Or that most tenants continue to comply with the terms of their tenancy and the law?

          If you have so many tenants not paying their rent despite heaped evidence that the majority of renters and landlords have a perfectly fine time when estate agents aren’t meddling, it begs the question of what you’re doing to attract such terrible people. If we’re all such terrible people then it’s obviously not the line of work for you to be in. Feel free to sell your property, I promise that the rest of us won’t mind.

        2. You’re a very bitter Landlord aren’t you. The fact is there are more tenants being screwed by landlords out there, than tenants giving landlords nightmares. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, it absolutely does, but they are in the minority. I’ve been renting with my family or on my own since just before my father got Cancer and died. Renting since mid 1991… I’ve heard all the excuses and sob stories from landlords in the book. My favourite is when they whine they can’t cover their mortgages. Boo bloody hoo. So what, your tenant is expected to pay YOUR mortage for YOU? Umm they are not your slave or servant, they just want a house to live in and one that meets basic standards, otherwise our cities end up crumbling into squalor. Every landlord that fails to do repairs is contributing to squalor and lowering the living standards for everyone and should be ashamed…. can’t afford to make the repairs AND pay your own mortgage? Then you have overextended yourself financially and need to work harder to ensure you have a cushion of money in a savings account to cover your responsibilities. You don’t make other people suffer because you didn’t plan well enough financially.

      2. “Please read section two, subsection 1 of the bill which specifically states, front and center, that the tenant is not afforded any protections if they have failed to use the property in a “tenant-like manner” or is in breach of any express term in the tenancy to the same effect. This includes not paying the rent,”
        Unfortunately taht is not true. It only applies where the ‘defect’ is caused by the tenant, not for any other breaches such as non-payment of rent.
        I believe that many landlords would be happy if a S21 could be served if a tenant owed the landlord money at the time it was served.

        1. Perhaps I am taking “express terms in the tenancy to the same effect” too broadly, but I imagined that breaching your obligations under the tenancy agreement relating to rent (as it is usually set out when and how it should be paid in all of the ASTs I have seen) would constitute a breach as I feel is clearly intended by the policy.

          However on re-reading it could be taken to mean exclusively tenancy clauses relating to “tenant-like manner” which on the narrow definition made by the judge who coined the term relates essentially to minor ongoing maintenance obligations such as mowing a lawn.

          Again, this could have been raised in an informed debate and the policy refined with a defined term rather than the general concept of “tenant-like manner”, or, and probably easier, adding an additional clause relating to the obligation to pay rent less any reasonable deductions permitted for work the tenant has ended up organising for themselves in the proper documented manner.

  18. “the Tenancies (Reform) Bill failed to progress because Philip Davies and Christopher Chope chose to filibuster it”.

    That seems to be rather a political statement for a charity to be making, and not strictly true.
    The reason the bill failed is that there were not 100 MPs present to support it.

    A vote was held (that the house should vote on the Bill) and was passed 60 to 0, but the rules are that the vote needed at least 100 MPs voting to be effective.

    Thus the bill failed because ALL the political parties that claimed to support the principles failed to provide sufficient MPs in favour to get it passed.

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