Orders of the Day — Housing and Building Control Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:02 pm on 5th July 1983.

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Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Norwood 9:02 pm, 5th July 1983

The environmental health officer should be the agent of the tenant, not the agent of the council. There must be independent enforcement of repair obligations against local authorities in exactly the same way as there is enforcement against private landlords. In many constituencies in London, when the GLC controlled the estates, the environmental health officer could issue a summons or the work would be done in default. However, as a result of the handover by this Government of GLC estates to local authorities in London, that independent power of intervention by the environmental health officer has disappeared. That is absolute madness. That right must be given to tenants.

Fourthly, there must be a planned and regular estate inspection, something along the lines of the test certificate for a car. If a car must be roadworthy every year, why should not a house be tenantworthy? A tenant has the right to demand that his house is in a good state of repair.

All candidates in the general election will have gone round housing estates, even fairly new estates, and seen water coming down the walls, water overflowing from pipes and small trees and shrubs growing from the gutters of comparatively new accommodation. One of the reasons is the way in which the Government have manipulated the housing revenue account and the rate support grant to provide a positive disincentive to local authorities to get on with these important tasks.

Fifthly, there must be a change in section 32 of the Housing Act 1961 so that the obligation on a landlord is an obligation to remedy the underlying defect as well as the repair that comes to the tenant's attention.