Schedule 5 - Application of Chapter 1 of Part 1 to existing tenancies: transitional provision

Part of Renters (Reform) Bill – in the House of Commons am 6:23 pm ar 24 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 6:23, 24 Ebrill 2024

Let me start by thanking the Clerks, the House staff and the Library specialists for facilitating our debates on the Bill, along with all the experts and external organisations that have engaged extensively with us on it. I also put on record my thanks to all hon. Members who have contributed to our proceedings at all stages, particularly those who served on the Public Bill Committee. I especially thank my hon. Friends the Members for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury), for Westminster North (Ms Buck), for North Tyneside (Mary Glindon), for Mitcham and Morden (Dame Siobhain McDonagh) and for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) for their forensic scrutiny of the Bill’s provisions, and the considerable efforts that they have made to strengthen it as a whole.

I offer my sincere thanks to the Minister for the manner in which he has approached our exchanges on this important piece of legislation. In being handed this as his first Bill to take through the House, he has been given an unenviable task, to put it mildly, but he has borne his troubles with good grace. I have very much appreciated the civil way in which he has engaged with me throughout and his efforts, within the severe constraints under which he is no doubt operating, to make a number of small but sensible improvements to the Bill.

Once again, I put on the record the thanks of Labour Members to all those who have campaigned tirelessly—in many cases, over decades—for a reformed private rented sector. I particularly thank all the organisations that have joined Labour over recent months in urging the Government to amend the Bill so that it levels decisively the playing field between landlord and tenant, especially the 20 that make up the Renters Reform Coalition.

Labour has consistently argued that the case for fundamentally reforming the private rented sector is as watertight as they come. A state of affairs in which more than 11 million people in England—not just the young and mobile, but many older people and families with children—live day in, day out with the knowledge that they could be uprooted from their home with little notice and minimal justification, and where a significant minority of them are forced to live in substandard properties for fear that a complaint would lead to an instant retaliatory eviction, is intolerable. The sector should have been transformed a long time ago.

The Bill as introduced was a good starting point for the reform that is necessary, but Ministers could and should have strengthened this legislation, rather than progressively watering it down in a forlorn attempt to appease a minority of malcontents on the Government Benches. As a result of the Government’s unwillingness to face down that minority, the Bill that we send to the other place today is not only far weaker than it need be, but in danger of being fatally compromised.

We will not oppose the passage of the Bill tonight, because it is essential that it progresses, but we hope that the noble Lords address that danger and that over the coming months we can convince the Government to think again and ensure that this long-overdue piece of legislation truly delivers for renters.