Michael Gove

26 Oct 23

Housing secretary Michael Gove has pinned the blame for non-compliance within the private sector on foreign offshore landlords during a Q&A session at yesterday’s NRLA Conference in Birmingham.

Speaking via video link to delegates at the National Conference Centre Gove twice mentioned that he considered much of – but not all – poor compliance within the private sector to be the fault of ‘foreign landlords’.

Gove’s comments were part of his efforts during the session to reassure delegates that his new Renters (Reform) Bill is designed to weed out the ‘bad landlords’ by asking ‘good ones’ to shoulder more regulation such as the looming Property Portal, which will in effect sweep in landlord and BTL property registration across England.

Gove’s efforts to separate good and bad landlords included pointing out that those who fail to comply with the existing regulations tend to be ‘hands off’ landlords who, by definition, are often based overseas.

180,000 landlords

The most recent research on this was two years ago from letting agency Ludlow Thompson, which claimed that some 180,000 UK landlords live overseas.

Their numbers are so large that HMRC has a dedicated taxation scheme, the Non-Resident Landlords Scheme, which requires either tenants or letting agents to pay their tax on revenue on their behalf.

“Landlords are part of the solution to the housing and economic challenges that we face,” he said.

“There are however some specific challenges that we need to address – one of those is the problem of a small minority of landlords very often but not exclusively foreign based who operate in a way that doesn’t reflect the good practice of the overwhelming majority of the sector.”

Talking later about his new Portal and its role in enforcement, Gove said: “There will be some people who don’t sign up for it and it is those landlords towards which most enforcement actions should be directed.

“And those who won’t sign up are the offshore owners who aren’t really concerned about the condition of the property, the care of the tenant or their reputation.”

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