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Renters Reform Bill

Volume 678: debated on Monday 20 July 2020

We are committed to bringing forward legislation to deliver a better deal for renters, including repealing section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 as a priority. This will represent a generational change to tenancy, so it is only right that such legislation is considered and balanced to achieve the right outcomes for the sector, for tenants and, of course, for landlords.

The economic consequences of covid-19 could continue for years to come. Given the Secretary of State’s commitment that

“no one should lose their home as a result of the coronavirus”,

does the Minister agree that it is about time this Government looked at the measures the Welsh Labour Government are putting in place to protect renters from eviction by unscrupulous landlords?

I am obliged to the hon. Lady for her question. This Government have brought forward an unprecedented array of measures to support tenants through the coronavirus epidemic. We have protected 8.6 million households because of our actions: we have increased the local housing allowance to the 30th percentile; we have given local authorities £500 million of crisis grants; and we have introduced the furlough scheme, which the shadow Chancellor, in a moment of lucidity, described as a “lifeline”. This Government are acting, and will continue to act, for tenants.

The evictions ban ends on 23 August and the Government could have already brought in this Bill, raised LHA temporarily to average rents, scrapped section 21 or given courts discretion in arrears cases, but they have not done any of those things and thousands of people are struggling with rent now. So will the Minister guarantee to honour the words of the Secretary of State in March:

no one should lose their home as a result of the coronavirus”?

Yes or no?

I know that the hon. Lady is coming under pressure from her extreme left wing to, in essence, write off all rents. I am not entirely sure who that is expected to help—it certainly will not help those people who are working very hard to pay their rents. As I said, the Government have brought forward an array of measures to support hard-pressed renters. We have introduced measures that will support those people. I believe my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor is about to introduce a measure that will make it difficult for landlords who do not show “good cause” in bringing their application to court by describing what the effect on their tenants will be of an eviction—the courts will be able to adjourn those actions. That is practical support for people on the ground, not pie in the sky from the hon. Lady.