And politicians wonder why the public hates them... Remember we told you about the second reading of a parliamentary bill that aimed to put an end to landlords 'revenge evicting' tenants who complained? That bill has now failed because two Conservative MPs filibustered the debate.
Philip Davies, MP for Shipley and who — wouldn't you know it — happens to be a landlord himself (he has a flat in London that he rents out), talked for roughly an hour about the Tory manifesto from 1987 and various government meeting minutes and guidance. He was eventually told to shut up by the deputy speaker for "tedious repetition either of his own arguments or of the arguments used by other Members". The mantle was then taken up for another 90 minutes by Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch, whose laudable Commons history includes delaying a bill to grant a pardon to Alan Turing. The pair talked so long the House ran out of time to vote. Mike Thornton, MP for Eastleigh, accused Davies and Chope of being "unwilling to act in a decent and moral manner".
This bill had cross party support and government backing. Minister for Communities Stephen Williams said in September the government was "backing Sarah Teather’s bill to outlaw revenge evictions once and for all — ensuring tenants do not face the prospect of losing their home simply because they’ve asked for essential repairs to be made". At one point during the debate a vote was called to get Chope to stop talking but — and this is the other kicker — only 60 MPs were in the chamber to vote, and they needed 100 to make it count. Even though all 60 of them voted 'yes'. The bill will be debated again on 5 December but is highly unlikely to make it into law by the end of this Parliamentary term.
Revenge evictions are a major problem in London. During the last quarter of 2013, the main reason for people presenting to the authorities as homeless was the end of a tenancy — either the landlord put the rent up more than the tenant could afford or they were kicked out. In Friday's debate, Sarah Teather, MP for Brent Central, cited statistics that three in 20 London tenants report being victims of revenge evictions, rising to one in five black and minority ethnic tenants.
Alex Hilton of Generation Rent said:
"Only 60 MPs were prepared to leave the comfort of their homes to protect the safety of nine million renters. Bad landlords now remain free to turf out tenants in awful conditions and tenants will continue to put up with mould, damp and faulty wiring for fear of eviction."
Matt Downie, Director of Policy and External Affairs at Crisis, said:
"It is hugely disappointing that despite cross-party and public support, the retaliatory eviction bill has today failed to secure enough votes to pass. This defeat is a huge blow for the many renters who out of fear of eviction are forced to put up with horrendous conditions, powerless in the face of landlords who ignore their responsibilities."