Clause 16 - Limitation on obligation to pay removal expenses

Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:45 pm ar 23 Tachwedd 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I bridle slightly at the use of the word “allow”. [Laughter.] I have two questions for the Minister in relation to this clause. Under the provisions of the Housing Act 1988, landlords of assured tenancies are currently required to pay the tenant’s reasonable moving expenses when they are awarded possession under ground 6, relating to redevelopment, or ground 9, where suitable alternative accommodation is available. This clause restricts that requirement solely to registered providers of social housing.

The Bill’s explanatory notes simply state:

“When the Bill takes effect, all landlords will use assured tenancies, so this provision is necessary to ensure only private registered providers of social housing are required to pay removal expenses.”

From our point of view, that does not explain why the Government believe it is necessary to remove the existing requirement for landlords to pay the tenant’s reasonable moving expenses in instances where possession has been gained under grounds 6 or 9. I would be grateful if the Minister could respond to the following questions: first, why do the Government no longer believe it is reasonable to pay for a tenant’s removal costs in cases under ground 6, where substantial redevelopment cannot take place with the tenant in situ, or ground 9, where suitable alternative accommodation has been identified? Secondly, why do the Government believe it remains appropriate for providers of social housing to cover those costs, if it is now judged inappropriate that private landlords should have to do so?

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his questions. We think it is an unfair burden to ask private landlords to pay for removal costs, which prevent them from redeveloping and ensuring that good-quality housing stock is available on the market. The purpose of the current requirement is to ensure that social tenants are paid moving costs when a social landlord is using grounds that help them to manage their stock—that is, redeveloping a property and moving tenants into suitable alternative accommodation. It would be unfair to place that burden on private landlords if it were applied to them and widened to include all no-fault grounds: for example, a landlord might find themselves in financial difficulties and need to sell or move into a property. I hope that answers the hon. Gentleman’s questions, but if he wants to reply, he can do so.

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I am still not clear why it is deemed appropriate under those two specific grounds for assured tenancies—as is currently the case—but not under the new system. However, I am not going to press the matter any further.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 16 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.