New Clause 67 - Repeal of mandatory grounds for possession

Part of Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 28 November 2023.

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Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 3:30, 28 November 2023

New clause 67 would make all grounds discretionary. That would remove any certainty for landlords that they could regain possession if they were seeking to sell or move in. Even more seriously, landlords would not even be guaranteed possession if their tenant was in a large amount of arrears, or had committed serious crimes. That could fatally undermine landlords’ confidence in the process for recovering possession.

In last week’s debate, we talked about getting the balance right between tenant security and a landlord’s ability to manage their properties. Where grounds are unambiguous and have a clear threshold, they are mandatory. That includes where a landlord has demonstrated their intention to sell, or a tenant has reached a certain threshold for rent arrears.

However, we completely agree that in more complex situations it is important that judges should have the discretion to decide whether possession is reasonable. Hon. Members talked last week about ground 14—the discretionary antisocial behaviour ground, which is one of those where judicial discretion is required and will remain so. The Government think the new clause strikes an unfair balance that will ultimately hurt tenants, and I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw it.