Labour politicians in the capital have reacted angrily to reports that the government has been considering sidelining or even abandoning proposals for improving the rights of private renters developed under the premiership of Boris Johnson.
Sadiq Khan said “London’s 2.6 million renters face the constant threat of eviction” due to what he called “the outdated and ruthless no-fault eviction law” which campaigners have long fought to get ride of.
His housing deputy Tom Copley described the reported move as “an utter betrayal of private renters”, pointing out that reform was a 2019 general election manifesto commitment and adding that he considered the white paper published in advance of legislation to be “a very good start”.
The Times said this morning that ministers are “discussing shelving legislation” drawn up the now former levelling up secretary Michael Gove, which housing charity Shelter had greeted at its white paper stage as a “game changer” for private renters throughout England.
One government source was reported to have said the measures were “not considered a priority” by the new, Liz Truss-led administration and “would be delayed” and another said it intended to “wanted to scrap the measure entirely,” according to the Times. Reporter Steven Swinford tweeted that “Liz Truss is shelving” the Gove plans.
London Assembly members have also spoken out, with the Green Party’s Sian Berry taking to Twitter to mock the government’s goals in general, “not forgetting homelessness”, while Labour’s Sem Moema, who chairs the London Labour Housing Group and the Assembly’s housing committee, said she had received a letter from the government “just a few weeks ago”, which “promised these reforms were still in the pipeline”. Moema called their possible scrapping “devastating”.
Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said she was “totally flabbergasted” by the possibility that the commitment to abolish “no-fault” evictions might be dropped, and Shelter, reacting to Jim Pickard of the Financial Times reporting that the government was “insisting” it hadn’t yet made up its mind about the issue, said renters “deserve better than this chaos”.
Last month, amid early uncertainty about the attitude of Liz Truss’s administration to policies pursued under Boris Johnson, Tom Copley told the Assembly’s housing committee it would be a “great shame” if what he called a “really important piece of legislation” failed to materialise, even though he and the Mayor felt its protections did not go far enough.
With steps to improve the rights of private tenants enjoying strong public support, shelving or dropping the plans is unlikely to improve the popular of the Conservatives in London, with a recent opinion poll finding support for the party running at just 22%, which, if it applied through Greater London would see the Tories lose every parliamentary seat they currently hold if a general election was held now.
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