Michael Gove used his speech to introduce the second reading of his Renters (Reform) Bill to pour cold water on calls for rent controls while also trying to reassure ‘good’ landlords that the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions will not affect them unduly.
This, as LandlordZONE has reported repeatedly in recent months, is a highly contested argument particularly given the parlous state of the justice system, which currently demands that landlords wait up to a year to evict some tenants.
During a nearly four-hour debate last night that saw Gove, shadow housing secretary Angela Rayner and dozens of MPs including many Tory ones cross swords, Gove argued that rent controls would merely “reduce supply to the private rented sector and drive rents up in an already tight market”.
In answer to one Tory MP who said "this disastrous Bill" would have the same affect on supply and rents as rent controls – i.e. to reduce the number of landlords and push up rents – Gove angrily said that there was ‘no evidence at all’ that removing Section 21 and enhancing Section 8 notice evictions would reduce supply.
Gove repeatedly said during the debate that he was interested in helping ‘good landlords’ evict troublesome tenants and in particular those who gamed the court system to stay in properties despite evidence of rent arrears and anti-social behaviour, but that renters nevertheless needed more protection from the small minority of rogue and unscrupulous landlords in England.
“This Bill represents a new and fair deal for both landlords and tenants,” he pleaded during the debate.
But Labour’s Angela Rayner said along with many other MPs across the political spectrum that although her party would support his Bill’s passage through parliament, it was ‘too little too late’.
This may worry some landlords given she will have Gove’s job – most likely – within a matter of months.
The Renters (Reform) Bill now moves to its first committe stage during which its measures will be debated further.
Commenting on the debate, Timothy Douglas (pictured), Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, said: “It is clear that more needs to be done to get the balance right for landlords, agents and tenants.
"Outstanding questions need to be answered about the role of a reformed judicial system.
"The Government have failed to take seriously the potential impact and the unintended consequences of the removal of Section 21 and the impact this could have on landlords exiting the market, which will do nothing to tackle the demand crisis in the private rented sector. It is important that the details are published and shared."