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Rogue Landlords

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 3rd March 2014.

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Photo of Mike Thornton Mike Thornton Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh 2:30 pm, 3rd March 2014

What steps his Department is taking to tackle rogue landlords.

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

We are determined to crack down on the small number of rogue landlords who neglect their properties and exploit their tenants. We have provided £6.5 million to local authorities and have recently published a discussion paper on improving property conditions in the private rented sector that focuses on tackling rogue landlords.

Photo of Mike Thornton Mike Thornton Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh

I am pleased that the Government are taking action on this issue, which affects so many of my Eastleigh constituents. Will the Minister assure me that, as part of the review, he will give adequate consideration to ensuring that rented homes are fitted with life-saving fire and carbon monoxide detectors, particularly as adequate regulations regarding electrical safety in rented houses are sadly lacking?

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

I can reassure the House that the review will consider both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. We will also consider whether landlords should be required to carry out regular checks on electrical installations.

Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee

One of the other major problems facing private sector tenants is the actions of letting agents. There was widespread support for the Government’s commitment to a redress scheme, and for the promise made on 20 May last year by the then Housing Minister to have one code of practice to underpin it. However, the Government now say that they cannot go ahead with one code of practice and must rely on voluntary codes, with agents being part of various bodies and with a test of reasonableness in other cases. Why are we not going to have one code of practice? Is it because the Government did not take the necessary powers under the legislation to enable them to do so?

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

First, the redress scheme will return to the House shortly, and I hope that it will gain all-party support, because it is extremely important for tenants and landlords. Secondly, the code of practice is currently out for consultation and, at the end of that process, we will see what conversations there have been about what shape it should take.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

Will the Minister address the serious problem of the exorbitant rents being charged by private sector landlords, particularly in London, and seriously consider introducing a form of regulation so that ordinary people on ordinary incomes are not driven out of the city in which they live?

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Rents across the country are at 1.1% at the moment, and in London they have actually fallen, from 1.9% to 1.6% over the last quarter.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

The Minister’s remark about 1.1% and 1.9% is confusing. Perhaps he can illuminate for the House what he means. Certainly, the rents that my constituents—a quarter of them live in private rented accommodation, which very often is substandard—are being charged are rocketing as people move from London to Slough, so how much have rents gone up in areas, such as Slough, around the outside of London?

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Quite often the media headlines on rent prices are the advertised rate. The figures I quoted are from the Office for National Statistics, and they are the actual figures tenants are charged after taking up a residency, so they are actually the true figures, rather than those advertised in the media.

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But of what sum is the percentage quoted?

Submitted by james s wishart