Almost a third of Tory MPs trying to weaken tenant protection bill are landlords

<span>Jacob Rees-Mogg is among the landlord MPs who have backed amendments to the bill. </span><span>Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Jacob Rees-Mogg is among the landlord MPs who have backed amendments to the bill. Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Almost a third of the MPs attempting to water down or delay new laws to better protect England’s 11 million private renters are landlords, analysis has revealed.

MPs including Bob Blackman, Nick Fletcher, Marco Longhi and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown are pressing for changes to the long-awaited renters’ reform bill, which will ban no-fault evictions. They want to make it easier for landlords to throw out tenants for antisocial behaviour instead.

The MPs are among 47 Conservative backbenchers who have signed amendments that housing campaigners fear will “gut” legislation crucial to improving rights for the one in five households in England who rent privately. There are also fears that the reforms will not happen before the general election.

According to an analysis of the register of members’ financial interests by the Renters’ Reform Coalition, a campaign group, 14 of the MPs backing the changes to the bill are landlords, renting out a combined 52 homes.

The MPs also want to force Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, to review the operation of county courts before banning no-fault evictions. And, alongside other landlord MPs including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Desmond Swayne, they want the current fixed-term tenancy system to continue in certain circumstances, instead of allowing tenants more flexibility to end tenancies where they need to.

Related: Renters’ reform must close loopholes for unfair evictions, campaigners say

Tom Darling, the campaign manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, said: “Those making money out of our broken housing system should not be holding up and watering down reforms to give renters more rights.

“That these landlord MPs are now choosing to sign amendments to water down, delay or even stop altogether these vital reforms is shocking. We are now worried that the government will try to do a deal with these MPs to get a bill passed that offers little improvement for renters.”

The demand for court reform is widely considered a delaying tactic, while calling for hearsay evidence to be allowed to justify evictions for antisocial behaviour is seen as a way of softening the effect on landlords of the proposed ban on no-fault evictions.

Last year the number of families thrown out of their homes by bailiffs after being served with section 21 no-fault eviction papers surged by 49% to 9,457. Many more households were served with no-fault eviction notices but left before bailiffs were required. Housing charities warn that no-fault evictions are a key driver of homelessness.

Related: No-fault evictions in England ‘soaring out of control’, say campaigners

Responding to the analysis, Swayne, who rents out two properties, said his interests were properly declared and parliamentary debate on the bill was not holding it up.

“There is a proper debate to be had as to whether the extent of the proposals will reduce the availability of rented accommodation and so make greater difficulties for potential tenants,” he said. “In a democracy, it is right that these arguments be heard. If supporters of the proposals want their way, they need to win the argument, rather than slinging mud and making false assertions.”

Blackman, Fletcher, Longhi, Clifton-Brown and Rees-Mogg were all contacted for comment.

The ban on no-fault evictions was first promised by the Conservative government almost five years ago and was then included in the party’s manifesto for the 2019 general election. Campaigners for private renting households are calling for no further dilution of the renters’ reform bill. Labour has said it will ban section 21 evictions quickly if it wins power.

At the weekend Gove said the government would end no-fault evictions by the time of a general election, which the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has indicated is likely to be held this autumn.

“We will have outlawed it and we will put the money into the courts in order to ensure that they can enforce it,” he told BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Our landmark renters (reform) bill will deliver a fairer private rented sector for both tenants and landlords. It will abolish section 21 evictions – giving people more security in their homes and empowering them to challenge poor practices. The bill will return to the House of Commons shortly.”

The landlord Conservative MPs who have backed amendments to the renters (reform) bill

Nick Fletcher, MP for Don Valley – 10 properties

Marco Longhi, MP for Dudley North – 10 properties

Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East – 6 properties

Geoffrey Clinton-Brown, MP for The Cotswolds – 5 properties

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire – 4 properties

Royston Smith, MP for Southampton, Itchen – 3 properties

Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet – 3 properties

Desmond Swayne, MP for New Forest West – 2 properties

Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset – 2 properties

Anne Marie Morris, MP for Newton Abbot – 2 properties

Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow – 2 properties

Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire – 1 property

Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay – 1 property

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet – 1 property

Source: Register of Members’ Financial Interests/Renters’ Reform Coalition