Indeed. Some Labour councils have done precisely that, by using their compulsory purchase powers to renovate homes and transform the lives of those who live in them.
The shadow Housing Minister is right about the need to bring all homes in the private rented sector up to a decent homes standard. She is also right to highlight the importance of a potential national register. I was surprised to hear Mr Prisk, whose contributions to debates on housing are usually thoughtful, pooh-pooh the notion of a register, because it would tell us who the landlords are; provide information on whether they pay their taxes, which is of benefit to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs; and communicate to landlords their rights, entitlements and obligations. If any landlord were found guilty of serious criminal behaviour, they could be deregistered, which would result in them not being able to operate as a landlord. A national register could make a significant contribution to what we are seeking to achieve.