Renters' Reform Bill gets sign off from MPs - but indefinite delay to no-fault evictions ban remains

MPs have voted in favour of the government's Renters' Reform Bill - despite it including an indefinite delay to the end of no-fault evictions.

A debate on the legislation ran throughout Wednesday afternoon, including around a new clause from the government which would hold off outlawing Section 21s until a review of the courts system had taken place.

But despite outrage from charities, campaigners and opposition parties around the measure, it got the backing of the majority of MPs - and the bill passed its final stage in the Commons shortly after 6.30pm.

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A Section 21 notice is the legal mechanism allowing landlords to evict tenants without providing a reason, which creates uncertainty for those who rent their homes.

The government first promised to ban the notices five years ago, back when Theresa May was still in Number 10.

But it has faced numerous delays amid threats of rebellion from Tory backbenchers - some of them landlords - who said they feared ending Section 21s would see the courts overwhelmed with more complex eviction cases.

Ministers agreed to amend the bill to ensure no ban was enacted until a probe into the courts had been held.

But the clause offers no timeline - leaving no clear date for when Section 21s will actually be scrapped.

Speaking during the debate, Levelling Up minister Jacob Young defended the government's stance, saying to end no-fault evictions straight away would "cause chaos in the sector", adding: "It is far better for tenants and landlords alike if we make sure this change happens in an orderly way."

But Labour's shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycook accused the government of lacking the "courage" to protect renters as they had promised.

"Instead of ministers having the courage to face down their unruly backbenchers, this weak and divided Conservative government is appeasing them at the expense of private renters who will see the rights and protections they were promised watered down," he added.

Charities also condemned the continued delay to ending Section 21s, with Shelter's chief executive Polly Neate saying the government had "led private renters down the garden path and dashed their best chance of a secure home".

She added: "For every day the government has spent weakening [the bill], at least 500 renters were slapped with a no-fault eviction notice.

"With the spectre of homelessness never far away, renters will remain powerless to challenge dangerous conditions and unfair rent hikes."

The Renters Reform Coalition's campaign manager, Tom Darling also said the current version of the bill would "fail renters" and "will preserve the current balance of power that has created the renting crisis we face today".

He added: "Frankly, it needs major surgery, and if it doesn't get it more legislation will be urgently needed from the next government."

A spokesperson for the Levelling Up department said: "Our commitment to scrap Section 21 no-fault evictions as soon as possible is unchanged.

"We have always said we will give six months notice before ending Section 21 for all new tenancies. In addition, we have committed to ensuring improvements in the courts service are rapidly implemented before extending this abolition to all existing tenancies."