On Friday 28th November MPs will debate Sarah Teather’s Bill to end retaliatory eviction. Here, Andrew Smith MP and Nicola Blackwood MP, explain what it means to them – and why they were willing to cross party divides to bring it to life. This guest blog first appeared on Shelter's website here: shltr.org.uk/5r6.
In July, we both pledged our support for Sarah Teather’s Tenancies (Reform) Bill. This Bill aims to protect private renters from retaliatory eviction. It will do this by preventing landlords from issuing a no-fault Section 21 eviction notice after they have been ordered to make improvements to their property by a local authority.
Oxford has one of the highest levels of private renting in the country. There are over 18,000 households renting across Oxford East and Oxford West & Abingdon. Private rented homes make up 21% of all homes in the two constituencies- well above the South West regional average of 16%.
For us, this Private Members Bill provided an opportunity to work outside the party political lines in the Commons- and work together in the interest of people right across our two constituencies.
Too many Oxford residents are forced to choose between keeping their home and living in decent conditions. Shelter found that 1 in 7 adults in the South East avoided asking their landlord to repair a problem or improve conditions in their home in the last year because they were scared of eviction. We put our name to this Bill because it is a welcome step forward in tenants’ rights and security.
But it is also very sensible. Its proposals are is based on legislation from countries that have a similar private rented sector to the UK- such as Australia and the United States. It is also consistent with existing English law. Landlords who have not protected their tenants’ deposit or have not licensed their property when they are required to do so are already prevented from serving a Section 21 notice. These reforms are simply applying the same principle to poor conditions.
This Bill is also committed to protecting good landlords from spurious or vexatious complaints. It will only impact good landlords positively. It will encourage responsible tenants to report repair work to their landlord in a timely fashion. Good landlords will respond swiftly to these reports- and will be better able to protect their properties from long term disrepair.
With such common sense measures, it is not surprising that this Bill has picked up cross-party support in the commons. Over 1.3 million families now rent privately, it is time for Parliament to work together to give these families the security they deserve.
Rt. Hon. Andrew Smith, Member of Parliament for Oxford East
Nicola Blackwood, Member of Parliament for Oxford West & Abingdon