This afternoon, Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather presented the Tenancies (Reform) Bill for its first reading in Parliament. The bill is described as a “bill to protect tenants against retaliatory eviction; to amend the law on notices requiring possession relating to assured shorthold tenancies; and for connected purposes”.
Parliament will now debate whether to introduce legislation to end retaliatory eviction in the private rented sector.
Sarah presented the bill with the support of parliamentary colleagues from right across the house. Jeremey Lefroy, Bob Blackman, Sir Peter Bottomley, Nicola Blackwood and Philip Hollobone from the Conservative benches; Sarah’s Liberal Democrat colleagues Tessa Munt, Tim Farron and Andrew Stunell; and Labour’s John Healey, Andrew Smith and Fiona Mactaggart.
Getting a bill is an incredibly important step, which could help end this shocking practice.
How did this happen?
Sarah Teather was selected 7th (out of 20 MPs) in this year’s private members ballot. This means that she was given the opportunity to present a bill on any issue of her choosing. She picked a bill to end retaliatory eviction.
Sarah’s constituency, Brent Central, has an extremely high number of private renters. She’s seen this practice happen all too often- and has seized this opportunity to make a real difference to the 1.3 million families right across England who rent their homes privately.
As readers of this blog will know, Shelter’s ‘9 million renters’ campaign has been making a lot of noise about revenge eviction. Our advisers hear from family after family that are threatened with retaliatory action, just for enforcing their basic rights.
As well as Shelter, a broad range of organisations, including Crisis, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), Electrical Safety First and Citizens Advice have been instrumental in getting the bill this far. As already highlighted, putting a stop to retaliatory eviction makes so much sense, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t support this bill.
What happens next?
Sarah’s high position on the ballot means that parliament will have more time to debate her bill, ultimately giving it a greater chance of becoming law.
We also sincerely hope that the government will throw their support behind this bill. They have been talking about retaliatory eviction since October 2013- and they used their review of property conditions in the sector to explore possible solutions. As recently as last Wednesday, Communities and Local Government Minister, Nick Boles recognised that
“Some landlords are trigger-happy in terminating tenancies, using any excuse to turf out a responsible tenant who has just had the temerity to complain about some aspect of the property.”
We still have a long way to go before this bill becomes a law. But this is a significant step. And massive thanks go to Sarah Teather, all Shelter’s staff and supporters who have campaigned against retaliatory eviction; all the organisations and local authorities who have championed this cause; and all the parliamentarians that have shown their support. Working together, we might just put an end to retaliatory eviction.