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Angela Rayner criticises Tories for ‘obsessing’ over her living arrangements as renters face no fault eviction ‘limbo’ | Politics News

Labour’s Angela Rayner has attacked the Conservatives for “obsessing” over her living arrangements while renters continue to face uncertainty over the government’s promise to end no-fault evictions.

The deputy leader has been facing scrutiny over the sale of her former home in Stockport from before she was an MP, with claims she did not pay the right amount of capital gains tax and may have registered to vote at the wrong address – allegations she denies.

Greater Manchester Police are now looking into the latter issue, which could be a breach of electoral rules, following a complaint from Tory MP James Daly.

But standing in at Prime Minister’s Questions on the day the much-delayed Renters’ Reform Bill returned to the Commons, Ms Rayner said: “I know this party opposite is desperate to talk about my living arrangements, but the public want to know what this government is going to do about theirs.”

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Ministers first promised to scrap no-fault evictions – or Section 21s – in April 2019, but agreed to an indefinite delay to outlawing the mechanism after a group of Conservative backbenchers, including some landlords, raised concerns that the courts were not prepared for the legal cases that could replace them.

A new clause being added to the bill by the government today would, if approved, order an assessment of the courts before any ban could be enacted. But it offers no timetable for when the probe would have to take place.

This has led to a huge backlash from campaigners, renters and opposition parties, who have claimed the government is “running scared” of their own MPs and leaving renters in “limbo”.

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Pointing to an exclusive Sky News article showing almost one million people had been subject to no-fault evictions since the Tories promised to ban them, Ms Rayner spoke about our case study, Natalie, who has been served two Section 21s in 18 months.

“She joins nearly a million families at risk of homelessness due to his party’s failure to ban this cruel practice,” she added.

“Now instead of obsessing over my house, when will he get a grip and show the same obsession with ending no-fault evictions?”

Representing Rishi Sunak at PMQs while he is abroad, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden poked fun at the Labour MP over the allegations about her former property, saying: “It is a pleasure to have another exchange with [Ms Rayner] in this House, our fifth in 12 months. Anymore of these and she’ll be claiming it as her principal residence.”

But he then insisted the government was “taking action” to help renters, and he was “confident that in line with our manifesto, we will deliver on that commitment” to end no-fault evictions.

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‘I’d like people to be able to have a home’

Speaking to reporters earlier, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove insisted his “determination” to end Section 21s was “ironclad”, but he could not commit to the ban coming in before the election – saying it would depend on opposition parties and the House of Lords supporting the whole bill.

Opening today’s debate in the Commons, one of his ministers, Jacob Young, also refused to give a date “because I can’t say until we’re confident that the county court system is ready”.

Mr Young said the government was investing ¬£1.2m to deliver the new legal processes needed, but added: “If we don’t have a ready court system when we make this change, the biggest change in 30 years, if the courts aren’t ready for these changes that will not benefit tenants, it won’t benefit landlords, but it certainly won’t benefit tenants either.”

However, Labour’s shadow housing minister, Matthew Pennycook, accused ministers of “grubby political horse trading” with their backbenchers, telling the Commons: “The truth is that the only balance the government has ever sought to strike when it comes to this bill is attempting to honour the letter of the 2019 Conservative Party commitment, and appeasing the vested interest pressing for the very minimum amount of reform required to assert that it has been met.”

Mr Pennycook said his party would be supporting the bill overall, despite its “numerous defects, deficiencies, omissions”, but Labour would be voting against the new clause implementing the indefinite delay on the Section 21 ban.

Sky News research has revealed more than 100 MPs in the Commons have earned over £10,000 a year as landlords over the course of this parliament.

A total of 83 Tories have declared they received the sizeable rental payments since the last election in December 2019, along with 18 Labour MPs, four Liberal Democrats and one member of the SNP.

But many more could be benefiting from a smaller income as landlords, as MPs only have to publish it on the register of interests if rent tops the £10,000 annual figure.

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