Michael Gove has confirmed that the Renters (Reform) Bill is to get its second reading ‘this Autumn’, scotching hopes among some landlords that the legislation might have been kicked into the long grass.
The housing secretary made the comments at a meeting organised by the Centre for Policy Studies’ CAPX forum which is billed as promoting ‘democratic capitalism’.
Gove was the key speaker at the event and, in answer to a question from the floor, confirmed the Bill’s parliamentary next step.
This means it is highly likely to become law despite rumoured criticism from some MPs of its measures and in particular the removal of ‘no fault’ evictions from the landlord legal ‘toolbox’ unless, that is, Sunak calls an early General Election.
Ben Beadle (pictured), Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), was also at the event, and pressed the housing secretary on whether it was important to have a private rented sector “where landlords have the confidence to invest in housing provision”.
Gove said he supported the view that the NRLA has lobbied for – namely a balanced market with appropriate protection for tenants and that “the overwhelming majority of landlords want a relationship with their tenants where the tenants stay, pays the rent and looks after the property”, he said.
The housing secretary also said the NRLA had successfully pointed out to him that the Renters (Reform) Bill will make it more difficult for student landlords – suggesting it will be changed before becoming law.
Beadle tells LandlordZONE that the recent scrapping of the EPC rules – or ‘staged improvement’ to property energy efficiency as Gove put it at the event – was down to the housing secretary listening to the NRLA’s argument that the extra costs of EPC upgrades would be passed on to tenants as higher rents.
“The Housing Secretary is right to acknowledge the importance of a thriving rental market alongside all other tenures," he adds.
"But the only way to achieve this is to develop policies that can secure the confidence of the vast majority of responsible landlords.
“When section 21 repossessions end, landlords need certainty that the courts will more swiftly process possession claims where there is good cause.
“Alongside, this, we need to reform atax system which is penalising the provision of the very homes renters are struggling to find.”
But during the event Gove said that his position – wanting to see the improvement of properties via eventual regulation – was different to Tory ‘free market purists’ who would prefer there was none at all.