A senior Labour MP associated with the moderate wing of the party says private rental properties should be confiscated from serial offender landlords.
Clive Betts - chair of the all party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities committee, scrutinising the government’s rental policies - has told The Guardian that private landlords who repeatedly break the rules and exploit tenants should lose their investment properties.
This would be a “significant deterrent” to landlords who treated fines for letting out squalid, unsafe and overcrowded homes as simply a cost of doing business.
Councils would then take over the properties and allocate then to social housing waiting list tenants, he says.
The threat of seizure would “bring landlords up fairly sharply, because some of those properties are worth quite a lot of money”, he tells the paper.
He also forecast that the ban on Section 21 eviction powers would probably have to wait until after the next General Election and he claims that many tenants are “simply too frightened to report disrepair” for fear of eviction.
Betts is also at the centre of a row with Housing Secretary Michael Gove over comments made in the House of Commons recently.
He has written an angry letter to Gove, accusing him and his ministers of “mischaracterisation” and attempting to shift responsibility for any delay in the Renters Reform Bill commitment to scrap Section 21.
The row follows a report from the all-party committee which Gove quoted in a debate in the House of Commons.
Gove told MPs: “There were a series of recommendations in the report, upon which we have acted ... it is the case that we will ensure that the justice system, which is controlled by the Ministry of Justice and His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, is fit for purpose before we move ahead with some of the reforms in the Bill.”
And later in the same debate Rachel Maclean - the then-housing minister who was sacked earlier this week - said: “We have always committed to aligning and synchronising the reform of the private rented sector with the court system; we note that that was a recommendation of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee.”
Betts takes all this to mean that the government is passing the buck and saying that its controversial decision to delay the scrapping of Section 21 until the courts process has been reformed was actually a recommendation of the all-party committee, rather than a U-turn by the government itself.
Therefore Betts has written to Gove saying: “My Committee feels strongly that this is a mischaracterisation of the Committee’s recommendation and an attempt by the Minister for Housing and Planning to deflect blame for these delays away from the Government and toward the Committee. We feel doubly strongly about this given the significant delay the Government itself had in responding to the Committee’s Report.
“Our Report did warn the Government that ‘an unreformed courts system could undermine its tenancy reforms’ and advised that ‘it is absolutely essential that the government significantly increase the courts’ ability to process possession claims quickly and efficiently and in a way that is fair to both landlords and tenants’. However, at no point did we recommend an indefinite delay to the abolition of section 21 as the way to solve this challenge.”
Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.