ANALYSIS: Minister finally listens to common sense on reforms

The weekend saw a flurry of official activity to mollify the rebel Tory MPs who want the rental reforms altered - so what were they offered?

jacob young renting reformsFor much of the past five years, minister after minister (and they’re have been a lot of them) have said the rental market is skewed too heavily in landlords’ and letting agents’ favour and that tenants needed to be ‘empowered’.

This pleased campaign groups like Generation Rent and Shelter who, although they have laudable aims, have been heavily influencing Tory housing policy for some time now, to the point that many have said the Renters (Reform) Bill would damage the private rental market.

But over the Easter weekend the wheels of this lobbying juggernaut came off, at least for the time being.

Housing minister Jacob Young spent much of Thursday lobbying fellow Tory MPs, writing to the influential ‘rebel’ group, many of whom want the Renters (Reform Bill) altered, to soothe their hot heads.


On Good Friday this letter was leaked to Generation Rent, revealing that the weakened Sunak Government is prepared to mollify these ‘rebel’ 49 MPs by scaling down the ambition of the legislation.

The letter promises that Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions will not be abolished until the courts are up to speed, which given the under-investment in the judicial system overall, may be some time.

Also, the amended Bill will also require tenants to stay in properties for at least six months (rather than two) before being able to give notice.

Licensing review

Young also promised to review the now almost national system of council-run selective licencing schemes which, in some ways will be duplicated by the Bill’s proposed national landlord portal.

He also promised to ensure that the Bill will enable student landlords of any property type (not just HMOs) to evict tenants and therefore have certainty at the end of each academic year that a property will be vacant for the next group student tenants.

The letter also says that those evicting tenants from longer-term rentals will not be able to re-let them as holiday lets, a loophole Devon MP Selaine Saxby has highlighted, and that Local Authorities will be required to support vulnerable tenants who are evicted via a Section 8 notice.

And the housing minister promises that the proposed introduction of ‘periodic tenancies’ replacing ‘fixed term’ tenancies will be reviewed before it is implemented.


Landlords, or at least their main trade association, have been cautious about the proposed ‘U-turn’ on evictions in particular. The NRLA’s Chief Executive Ben Beadle, said over the weekend that the changes would achieve ‘balance’, rather than sounding cock-a-hoop.

Lobbying groups representing renters have been, predictably, unhappy about the changes, using strong language like ‘Faustian pact’ to describe the concessions.

What’s reassuring is that democracy appears to be working. A government bent on introducing measures that would (at least in the short term) damage the rental market, has been headed off at the pass.

Nigel Lewis is Head of Content at The Negotiator.

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