1 December 2014

Update at the foot of this post

Letting fees
A while ago I noted the failure of Libdem MPs in Cornwall to support a Labour motion on help for private tenants. Read my post Helping or hindering private tenants (6 August 2014) on the motion. The Labour motion called for three year tenancies to replace the present default six-month ones, the banning of letting fees for tenants, and the banning of excessive rent rises for people on the longer tenancies. It was a balanced and progressive motion promoting social justice.

Andrew George (Libdem, St Ives) voted against the progressive Labour motion; votes are not recorded for the other two Libdem MPs from Cornwall, Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay) and Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall).

Retaliatory eviction
On 28 November 2014 the Commons debated the second reading of the Tenancies (Reform) Bill of the Libdem MP Sarah Teather which outlawed retaliatory eviction, eviction after a tenant had complained about unsafe or unhealthy conditions in the rented place. Read the debate here. It had support from all the main parties and the government said it supported its passing the second reading. It was talked out by two Tory MPs, not enough MPs being present to end the debate and have a second reading vote, and it will now reappear on 5 December.

Two MPs from Cornwall were present and voted for a closure motion and a vote on the bill. They were Stephen Gilbert, who proposed the closure motion, and George Eustice (Conservative, Camborne and Redruth). Gilbert spoke strongly in favour of the bill.

Votes on 28 November on this progressive bill, which will help private renters, are not recorded for the other two Libdems, Andrew George (St Ives) and Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall). As I note above, in June George had voted against the Labour motion for longer tenancies and banning letting fees and excessive rent rises and no vote was recorded for Rogerson.

Lords debate
In the Lords on 24 November 2014 the Tories and Libdems opposed (division 3) a Labour amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill which would ban double fees and letting fees for tenants; the debate begins at column 755. Of peers associated with Cornwall, Labour’s Brenda Dean and Tony Berkeley voted for the amendment; Libdem Judith Jolly, Robin Teverson, and Paul Tyler voted against. All the 52 Libdems voting opposed the amendment.

In the Lords debate on the Labour amendment the government specifically mentioned its support for the Teather bill against retaliatory eviction up for its second reading a few days later (column 761). Well, that didn’t work and it will be interesting to see what the government does now.

So which party supports private tenants?
Labour has pressed hard for changes to the law that would help private renters. Apart from Stephen Gilbert on 28 November, parliamentary Libdems from Cornwall have failed to support private tenants in the two debates I have looked at here.

Also look at Replacing lost homes: how Cornwall MPs voted 1 September 2014.

Update 9 December 2014
The obstruction of Sarah Teather’s bill to prevent retaliatory eviction has led to a preventing amendment proposed by Libdems to the Deregulation Bill in the Lords.

Tenancies (Reform) Bill 2014
Amendment: preventing retaliatory eviction