No-fault evictions will be “outlawed” in England by the next general election, Housing Secretary Michael Gove has told the BBC.
The Conservatives first promised to end the right of landlords to evict tenants without needing a reason in 2019. However, the government has previously said a ban cannot be enacted until the court system is improved.
Campaigners have raised concerns court reforms could take years, leaving renters still facing unfair evictions.In October, MPs started debating the Renters (Reform) Bill, which includes a ban on no-fault evictions in England, but the legislation has not yet completed its passage through Parliament.
Asked if he could guarantee the practice would end by the time of the next general election, which must take place by the end of January 2025, Mr Gove told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: “We will have outlawed it and we will have put the money into the courts in order to ensure that they can enforce that.” Under the bill, landlords would only be able to evict tenants in England under certain circumstances, including when they wished to sell the property or when they or a close family member wanted to move in.
The National Residential Landlords Association has called for improvements to the court system to enable landlords to regain possession of their properties more quickly when they have legitimate grounds to do so.
Last year, Mr Gove told Conservative MPs no fault-evictions would not be abolished until the court system was reformed.
This led to accusations from Labour that the government was kicking a ban into the long grass. Mr Gove said it was important to deal with the “abuse” of no-fault evictions.
“It is the case that there are a small minority of unscrupulous landlords who use the threat of eviction either to jack up rents or to silence people who are complaining about the quality of their homes,” he added.
Tom Darling, campaign manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, suggested the government had “dragged their feet” on abolishing no-fault evictions.
“We will hold the government to this commitment,” he said.
“We’ll also be making sure the government don’t give in to landlord attempts to gut the bill – if these evictions are banned in name only then the government won’t be getting a pat on the back from anyone.”
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, who is also the party’s shadow housing secretary, said: “These are yet more weasel words from Michael Gove after years of broken promises.”
She added: “Having broken the justice system, the Tories are now using their own failure to indefinitely delay keeping their promises to renters in the most underhand way.”
Mr Gove was also challenged over the government’s record on housebuilding.
The Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto promised to build 300,000 homes a year in England by the mid-2020s but the target has not yet been met.
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