16 January 2015

Before I put up a post about issues in private rented housing I shall summarise some recent moves in parliament to make improvements in the sector and how the Cornwall Libdems responded

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, 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; no vote is 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. It is a sound, progressive bill. 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 23 January 2015.

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

No vote for this progressive Teather bill which will help private renters from 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.

In the Lords on 24 November 2014 the Tory Libdem opposed (division 3) Labour amendment 44ZA to the Consumer Rights Bill which would ban letting fees; 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.

In the Lords debate 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.

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.