In a significant parliamentary session, Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, stood firm against the implementation of rent controls and defended the upcoming abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. During the introduction of the second reading of the Renters (Reform) Bill, Gove asserted that these changes wouldn’t unfairly impact ‘good’ landlords, despite widespread concerns regarding the current delays in the justice system that can extend eviction processes up to a year.
The extensive debate, lasting nearly four hours, witnessed Gove clash with the shadow housing secretary, Angela Rayner, and several MPs, including members of his party. Gove was adamant in his stance that rent controls would “reduce supply to the private rented sector and drive rents up in an already tight market.”
In a heated exchange with a fellow Tory MP who criticised the Bill as “disastrous,” suggesting it would diminish the number of landlords and inflate rents akin to rent controls, Gove vehemently refuted the claim. He insisted there was ‘no evidence at all’ that the eradication of Section 21 and the bolstering of Section 8 notice evictions would lead to a contraction in supply.
Throughout the discussion, Gove repeatedly emphasized his commitment to aiding ‘good landlords’ in evicting problematic tenants, especially those exploiting the court system to unlawfully extend their stay. However, he also highlighted the necessity for enhanced protections for renters from a small fraction of dishonest and rogue landlords operating in England.
“This Bill represents a new and fair deal for both landlords and tenants,” Gove implored during the heated debate.
Conversely, Angela Rayner, along with several other MPs from various parties, acknowledged that while the Labour party would back the Bill’s progression, it was perceived as ‘too little too late.’ Her stance might unsettle some landlords, especially considering the possibility of her assuming Gove’s role in the foreseeable future.
With the Renters (Reform) Bill advancing to its initial committee stage for more detailed discussions, Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, responded to the debate: “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.”
The discourse surrounding the Renters (Reform) Bill indicates a period of significant change in the rental sector, with ongoing debates set to shape the future landscape of rental agreements, landlord rights, and tenant protections in England.