Section 21 Evictions

Part of Select Committee on Education – in Westminster Hall at 3:21 pm on 6th December 2018.

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Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 3:21 pm, 6th December 2018

From memory, if a local council wants to go back into the market, as long as it builds a minimum of 100, it can. Obviously, I shall write to the hon. Lady to confirm that later.

The change will diversify the house building market, as councils are better able to take on projects and sites that private developers might consider too small. To help further, we are providing a longer-term rent deal for five years from 2020 that provides housing associations and local authorities with a stable investment environment to deliver new homes. That will help to deliver the new generation of council house building that the Prime Minister announced recently.

Our position on retaliatory eviction is clear. To answer the hon. Members for Blaydon (Liz Twist) and for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel), no tenant with a genuine complaint about the condition of their property should be fearful of retaliatory eviction. That is why we have already taken steps on the matter, legislating to protect tenants from retaliatory eviction through the Deregulation Act 2015. As we are all aware, the vast majority of landlords provide well-maintained properties, and thankfully only a small number of tenants encounter the threat of retaliatory eviction. We share the ambition of ensuring that tenants are properly protected from retaliatory eviction—I shall begin to call it RE, as I cannot get my teeth around it.

We want to take a strategic approach, empowering tenants to raise issues with their landlords through greater security of tenure. Our recent consultation on overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector included a question seeking views on the effectiveness of RE provisions. That ensures that we have the most up-to-date information to inform our thinking. We are currently analysing responses. We are supporting the private Member’s Bill promoted by the hon. Member for Westminster North, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill. It adds a new dimension to the fight against rogue landlords, empowering tenants by allowing them to seek redress from their landlords if their rented house or flat is in an unacceptably dangerous condition. Tenants will be able to seek that redress without having to rely on their local authority. Of course, they will still be able to report problems to their local authority if they prefer, and will then be protected from unfair eviction by the Deregulation Act 2015. We are also exploring how we can strengthen redress in the housing market and are committed to requiring all private landlords to join a redress scheme as part of that. We will be publishing the response to our redress consultation shortly.

I hope that my remarks today demonstrate the Government’s commitment to building a private rented sector that works for everyone—one that supports good landlords to deliver the homes the nation needs and provides safe, affordable and secure homes for tenants. We do not shy away from the challenges facing us and are aware that we need the support of the entire private rented sector if we are to achieve those goals. It is in that spirit that I thank all hon. Members for their speeches and questions. I hope the hon. Member for Easington survives his cold—he has just toddled off. It would be a pleasure to talk to him about organising a visit to his area. I look forward to working with the hon. Member for Westminster North and other hon. Members in the coming weeks and months on this very important issue.