Concerns have been raised that long awaited reforms to the rights of private tenants risk being undermined as soon as they are introduced, due to cuts in legal aid being brought in by the government.

The Renters Reform White Paper published in June 2022 – three years after then PM Theresa May announced it – outlines changes long called for by Oldham Labour. Abolition of ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions, ending arbitrary rent increases and extending the Decent Homes Standard to private tenancies are all included in the proposals. Landlords will still be able to evict tenants to sell a home or move their own family in. Generation Rent 1 warns ‘there is a risk that if it is too easy to use no-fault grounds, unscrupulous landlords could abuse this, creating Section 21 by the back door. Penalties for abuse must be easy to enforce’

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet Member responsible for Housing said ‘Oldham Labour supports abolition of s21 of the 1988 Housing Act and welcomes better legal standards in the private rented sector. Some of the cases highlighted in our recent decision to introduce a new Registered Landlords Scheme show how poor living conditions are for some private tenants in Oldham. But new rights only mean something if they can be enforced. It is crucial that Oldham Council gets enough Government funding to do this. Just as importantly, tenants must be able to get the legal help needed to challenge landlords in the Courts or at a Rent Tribunal.’

At the same time, the Ministry of Justice is pressing ahead with proposals to make technical changes to extend ‘fixed recovery costs’ to all civil cases, including housing. Experts 2 are warning that these new rules, due to come into force in April 2023, could wipe out legal aid for housing and some homelessness cases.

Councillor Chadderton added ‘Tenants will be let down by the Conservatives if this change goes ahead. There is no point changing the law to give tenants more rights if they can’t get legal aid to make this real in practice. I call on Government to look again at this and exempt housing cases from these proposals. I understand they are looking at temporarily extending possession cases from this ruling but frankly this is just another example of a chaotic Government which can’t even deliver a simple manifesto commitment without undermining their own efforts.’

Councillor Amanda Chadderton
Councillor Amanda Chadderton
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