New Housing Secretary Michael Gove could have landlords’ and letting agents’ backs judging by his previous form during Commons debates.

The Whitehall big-hitter has previously voted to phase out secure tenancies for life and not to ban letting agents charging tenants, or prospective tenants, fees in recent years, and has also voted to reduce the basic rate of capital gains tax.

During a debate on the Rating (Empty Properties) Bill, Gove defended landlords, saying: “The Minister could not offer us any evidence because there is no robust evidence that landlords are wilfully depressing their balance sheets and turning away eager tenants simply out of perversity or idleness.”

And in a debate about overcrowding in the housing sector he said: “We also need to recognise that private landlords can play a significant part in meeting housing need.”

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During his failed bid to lead the Conservative party in 2016, the former Cabinet Secretary and key Brexiteer pledged to build a swathe of social rented housing.

Housebuilding

Gove called for a “national ambition” to build hundreds of thousands of homes a year, both private and socially rented.

Back in 2007 – while Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, Housing and Planning – he had promised that a Conservative government would massively push up the housebuilding target from the 200,000 homes a year pledged by the then Labour administration.

However, this enthusiasm for house-building doesn’t seem to translate to his own constituency of Surrey Heath where he has a record of objecting to new developments.

In 2019, he declared he was “deeply concerned” about plans to build a 1,500-home garden village on the site of Fairoaks airport, while in October 2020 he spoke out against a scheme in Bagshot for 44 homes, almost half of which were to be affordable, complaining it would “alter the character of the village for the worse”. Both schemes got the go-ahead.

Read more about Michael Gove.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Anyone has to be better than Jenrick, who caused the evictions ban – including evictions which were already in the pipeline, and not owing to Coronavirus – and thus cost some of us a fortune. It’s so good to hear that Jenrick has been sacked. Let’s hope Gove will be more reasonable.

  2. He also backed Boris Johnson wholeheartedly as PM, before changing his mind and stabbing him in the back, so consistency of thinking and integrity may not be traits of his landlords can rely on, though I must say most of the time he makes reasonable calls. I am probably in a minority of landlords, but I have grave doubts about the wisdom of building more and more houses and, at the same time, complaining about a climate crisis, particularly where it involves building on greenfield sites. Where I live there are houses being thrown up everywhere, and they are blighting the landscape. ‘Levelling up’ seems to be a euphemism for more concrete, more people, more congestion, and more pressure on services (eg even less chance of getting a doctor’s appointment).

  3. First and foremost, politicians need votes or they are on the dole.

    A landlord with a single property lets to two tenants and therefore has a 2 to 1 voting disadvantage in the eyes of politicians.
    A landlord that owns 10 properties therefore still has his single vote but that voice is now silenced by the 20 votes held by the tenants.
    As Obama famously said “You are at the back of the queue” especially when it comes to getting the ear of politicians.

    Do not put ANY hopes of Gove or any other politician riding to the rescue like some knight in shining armour. The ONLY time the govt will take note will be at a point when its already too late.

    There is clear evidence that investors are leaving the PRS, and a mix of govt regulations, EPC’s, licencing schemes, eviction ban, with more coming down the line in the form of Making tax digital, ending of section 21 etc etc.

    Currently the homelessness crisis is being masked by long court procedures and Boris housing the homeless in the local Travelodge which is unsustainable. That does not take into account any of the investors leaving the PRS which is gradually adding to the numbers of homeless as fewer properties available for rent.

    I believe it will take another 5 to 10 years of decline for the whole issue to manifest itself in a massive housing crisis that will eventually land at the govt’s door. Then there will be panic measures put in place to try to fix a system that the govt was responsible for breaking in the first place.

    AST’s worked fine for 40+ years and managed to house the 5 million or more that came here from the EU
    If Hong Kong falls over the govt will need investors BIG TIME. They need to watch out that they are not sleepwalking into a totally avoidable national homelessness scandal. Once investors have sold up there will be no quick or easy solutions available to govt.

  4. It would be good to have a little rational thinking from Government, their Ministers and their advisers in regard to the housing situation and the Governments stance towards Landlords.
    I don’t believe for one minute that we, Landlords, are bothered about being a “special case” or anything of the sort, we just need Government to comprehend and take account of the scenario from the Landlords perspective.
    Unfortunately one hears occasionally from one or two Landlord associations that their Representatives “have been or are in consultations with Government advisers” about various aspects presented by the Government, all of which appear to be to no avail whatsoever.
    Therefore, either the Government, their Minister’s and/or their advisers – are not interested in listening to points and/or concerns raised by the Representatives, or the Representatives of the Landlord associations are failing their membership, to say nothing of all Landlords, in presenting their concerns and potential ramifications associated with the Governments stance in a way Government et al will actually understand and take note of.
    Here’s hoping that Michael Gove is a breath of fresh air when it comes to listening to, and actually taking account of Landlords concerns and frustrations in order to produce a better system for all concerned.

  5. There seems to be no political acceptance that it is impossible to build sufficient properties of all types until UK borders are controlled.

    The UK refuses to turn back ILLEGAL ECONOMIC MIGRANTS from France.

    They’ll ALL need housing eventually as none of them will ever be returned to the first to safe country they entered.

    The flood of legal and illegal immigrants can’t be coped with by existing supply or even 300000 per year.
    .
    There are reckoned to be about 2 5 ILLEGAL immigrants.

    They should be detected and DEPORTED.

    Get rid of the illegals and IMMEDIATELY there are about 2.5 million rental properties that become available.

    There are simply too many migrants being allowed to enter the UK.

    The UK should have it’s own ‘ Iron Curtain’

    At the point of a gun illegal dinghy people should be turned round to France.

    It is unsustainable demand that is causing the housing problems.

    It is simply impossible to build sufficient to meet demand.

    Gove will continue the bonkers Tory policies of eradicating small mortgaged sole trader LL.

    Gove knows he can’t do too much to mortgage free LL but that still leaves 50% of mortgaged LL he can more easily get rid of.

    This remains Govt policy.

    You can bet that the 20% S24 tax credit will be removed.

    Govt intends to tax property wealth as that is where the money is.

    Govt knows that taxing LL even more isn’t electorally damaging.

    Therefore Govt knows it can hit LL as much as it likes.

    Govt will be coming for 2nd property wealth ASAP because that is where the money is!

    • Quite fun to read when there is >1M job openings and companies cannot find labour. The problem is the price of money in the long-term, it created all sorts of massive distortions in the real economy and they will only get worse. Neither Gove nor anyone else can clean up this mess without brutal hawkish action of BOE.

  6. BORIS IS IN FAVOUR OF AN AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS so there is no way deportations are going to be on the cards. If he puts it on the table all the other parties will vote for it… Another case of doing the opposite of what the “People” want. Echoes of 2016.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-18/johnson-backs-amnesty-for-well-behaved-illegal-migrants-in-u-k

    In one simple move he wipes away the Illegal immigrant problem… Nothing to be pressurised about if you make everyone legal!!!
    Problem? What problem….

    BBC will love him and anyone daring to raise an eyebrow will be dismissed as “Racist”

    If you think there are problems with shortages of school places, council flats, NHS beds etc…. As the saying goes “You aint seen nothing yet”

    The only power you posses as an investor is to leave the PRS and invest elsewhere.

    The only power you have as a disgruntled citizen is to move abroad.

    The English are more welcome in the US than in the UK. I know a bit about that because my son (Born in London) is a dual US/UK national.
    No covid flight issues, just fly in on a UK passport and fly out on the USA passport… He is actually in the UK at the moment… will be back in the USA next week. As a software engineer, he can work anywhere in the world there is power and a decent internet connection.

    The future will be very different, both in the PRS and the UK.

    Something to think about…
    New Hampshire (USA) does not have any inheritance tax. However, if you inherit from someone who lived in or owned property in a state that does have an estate tax, such as Maryland or Kentucky, then you may have to deal with that tax. It is one of the 38 states in the U.S. that does not levy an estate tax.

    UK inheritance tax is currently 40% and for many on the left that is not enough!!!

    Maybe time to sell up and “Go west young man” and leave the riff raff behind in blighty.

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