As the Renters (Reform) Bill receives its Second Reading in the House of Commons today, new polling conducted by Opinium and commissioned by the Renters’ Reform Coalition (RRC) finds strong public support for the pro-renter reforms in the Bill, and RRC proposals that go beyond the legislation.
The results also show Conservative Party support in ‘freefall’ amongst the quarter (1 in 4) of their 2019 voters who are private renters, with less than half (47%) now saying they will back the party at the next election.
The polling is released as renters and pro-renter campaign groups today descend on Westminster to demand MPs honour their manifesto commitments to reform private renting. It also comes amidst rumours of a backlash to the legislation among pro-landlord Conservative MPs threatening to vote against the legislation, which may have been the cause for the five-month delay between the Bill’s First Reading and Second Reading.
87 MPs earn an income from residential property, of whom 68 are Conservatives.
The Bill is likely to pass Second Reading and be carried over to the new parliamentary session, as opposition parties have indicated they will support it, but if the rebellion is larger than the Government’s majority, it could leave the Government embarrassed and the future of the legislation uncertain.
The polling, carried out by British Polling Council member Opinium with a sample of 4,295 voters in England between 17th – 20th of October showed strong public support for the proposals in the Renters (Reform) Bill, with strong majority support for RRC asks that go beyond the provisions in the bill as currently written, including from Conservative voters.
The results include:
- An overwhelming 72% of respondents support a ban on section 21 evictions, where a landlord can evict a tenant without providing a reason – abolishing Section 21 is the core provision of the legislation.
- In cases tenants could continue be evicted through no-fault of their own (e.g. landlords seeking to sell their property), a strong majority (71%) of respondents supported increasing the notice landlords are required to give tenants from two months (the amount proposed in the Bill) to four months (an RRC ask).
- A strong majority (62%) of respondents supported measures to protect renters from eviction through no-fault of their own for the first two years of their tenancy (currently, there is only a six-month ‘protected period’ proposed in the Bill).
- Strikingly, more than two thirds (68%) supported measures to prevent private rents increasing beyond the rate of wage or price inflation – indicating support for the RRC’s proposal to prevent unaffordable rent increases being ‘economic evictions’ under the reformed system.
The polling also suggests that Conservative Party’s standing with private renters is in dire straits. Among the 1 in 4 2019 Conservative voters who are private renters, only 47% now say they intend to vote Conservative at the next election. It shows the Conservatives are losing renters at a faster rate than any other housing tenure, with 54% of those who own their own home still indicating they will vote Conservative at the next election. Amongst private renters overall just 15% currently intend to vote Conservative.
Tom Darling, Campaign Manager at the Renters’ Reform Coalition said:
“It’s shocking that we are only now at Second Reading of this Bill – in the four years since the promise to end no-fault evictions was first made, more than 100,000 have been put at risk of homelessness as a result of a Section 21.”
“If that isn’t a good enough reason for some of these pro-landlord MPs to vote for this bill, then they should be warned that our polling today shows broad public support for pro-renter measures in the bill and even those that go well beyond the legislation – including from Conservative voters. And there’s a particular warning for the Conservative party who, perhaps contrary to the received wisdom, had one in four of their voters from 2019 live in the private rented sector. That support is now in freefall.”
“So the RRC are calling on all MPs to support this legislation tonight – then we will be working in parliament to strengthen the legislation with longer notice periods, more security, more requirements on landlords to provide decent quality homes, and a measure to restrict in-tenancy rent increases. Only then will England’s 11 million private renters see the transformation to our housing experience that we so desperately need.”