The Renters’ Reform Bill announced last week in the Queen’s Speech, may contain a Trojan Horse measure for rent control. Two Government ministers have used terms in Parliamentary answers to questions, in the last week, which point to specific measures to empower tenants to challenge rents.
The White Paper for the Bill is being formulated by Michael Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), and will be published “shortly” and is being probed ahead of this by the Opposition.
Shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycook asked Michael Gove in the House, “We know that rent tribunals are not an effective safeguard against punitive rent rises, and that the risk of such rises is likely only to increase when section 21 no-fault evictions are finally scrapped.
“Will the Secretary of State therefore tell the House why his planned renters reform Bill appears to be completely silent on protections for tenants against unaffordable rent rises?”
Secretary of State, Michael Gove replied, “Our Renters Reform Bill will specifically ensure that people in the private rented sector are protected, and I look forward to working with the hon. Gentleman to ensure that the Bill satisfies the need of the hour.”
Our Renters’ Reform Bill will specifically ensure that people in the private rented sector are protected…”
In written answers to Parliamentary questions, housing minister Eddie Hughes was asked by Catherine West, Shadow Minister for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, “what steps he has taken to enhance private renter security in the context of increases in the cost of living.”
His reply said, “This Government is committed to easing cost of living pressures and increasing security and stability for tenants.
“I was very pleased to announce last week that we are bringing forward legislation to scrap Section 21 evictions.
This will prevent tenants from being unfairly evicted and empower them to challenge unreasonable rent rises – as well as saving money on the costs of frequent house moves.”
It’s generally agreed that the current process of challenging unfair rents is complex, cumbersome and impractical and simply abolishing Section 21 evictions does not therefore make the process of challenging any easier.
The Negotiator, yesterday, asked the DLUHC for clarification of the Ministers’ comments specifically on this point. The oblique response did nothing to clarify or contradict the Ministers’ comments.
A spokesperson said, “We’re delivering a better deal for renters. The Renters’ Reform Bill announced in this week’s [sic] Queen’s Speech will bring forward measures to abolish Section 21 no-fault evictions, giving tenants greater security and empowering them to challenge unreasonable rent rises without the fear of retaliatory evictions.”
Watch this space…