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The UK’s levelling up secretary has pledged to invest in the court system to push through a ban on “no-fault” evictions ahead of this year’s general election amid concern that his party has failed to deliver for young voters.
Michael Gove said on Sunday that the government would “put the money into the courts” to enable them to handle an increase in caseload following a ban on Section 21 notices, which currently enable landlords to force out tenants without providing a reason.
The commitment to end so-called no-fault evictions was included in the Conservative party’s 2019 election manifesto and features in the Renters Reform Bill currently moving through parliament.
Gove’s remarks came as figures released by the Ministry of Justice on Thursday showed that 9,457 households in England had been evicted by bailiffs last year, up from 6,399 in 2022.
Landlords and some Tory MPs had argued that relying on slow court processes would make it too difficult to evict problem tenants. Eighty-seven members of parliament earn an income from residential property, including 68 Conservatives.
“There are a small minority of landlords who use the threat of eviction to jack up rents or silence people who are complaining about the quality of their homes,” Gove told the BBC. “We will have outlawed it and we will put the money into the courts in order to ensure that they can enforce it.”
Gove’s pledge comes as the government gears up to make a series of announcements next week on housing and planning reform.
The cabinet minister will announce plans to convert office blocks, department stores and other commercial buildings into homes in an effort to shift development away from the greenbelt and villages.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Gove said young people’s difficulties getting a foot on the housing ladder were undermining democracy and capitalism.
Polling published by YouGov at the end of January showed that only one in 10 under-40s said they would vote Conservative at the next election. The share of people aged 25-34 who own their own home in the UK has fallen 22 percentage points since 1990, according to analysis by the Financial Times.
Meanwhile, the government has repeatedly delayed promises to end no-fault evictions, while it has been accused by developers of “bowing to nimbyism” over housebuilding commitments.
England added 234,400 net new homes last year, according to official statistics, of which 212,570 were new-builds — less than the government target of 300,000 per year.
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour party, said: “These are yet more weasel words from Michael Gove after years of broken promises. The Tories voted down Labour’s amendment to the renters bill that would have seen no-fault evictions abolished on day one.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, a housing charity, said there was still a risk of the government watering down proposals to ban no-fault evictions amid internal party pressures.
“It’s being weakened by a small minority of MPs on the government’s own backbench while renters suffer,” she said. “There cannot be any loopholes to banning no-fault evictions and it must not be tied to unspecified court reforms.”