Housing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 5:30 pm, 9th April 2019

The hon. Lady raises an issue that, in certain parts of the country—including in my constituency —can have an impact, albeit that I think it is sometimes overstated. Having said that, the Government have taken steps, such as giving councils the power to charge premium council tax on empty homes and second homes, which should help with that issue. In the end, however, in areas such as the hon. Lady’s, most of the problem will be solved by increasing supply. I recently attended a meeting with the Campaign to Protect Rural England down in her part of the world, where I tried to explain to 240 people who were not best pleased at the idea of having a significant number of homes in their area that this was their moral duty to the next generation and that they needed to accept the homes, control them, design them well, and make them fit in and enhance their local communities. We have a growing population and in popular areas where people want to live and from which young people are often driven out, the solution will be to build more homes.

Happily, the picture is also improving for renters. We are cracking down on rogue landlords and from 1 June, the Tenant Fees Act 2019 will come into force, banning unfair letting fees and capping deposits. These vital steps will protect tenants and save them millions. We will also set out our position shortly on longer-term tenancies, because those in the private rented sector can face a high degree of insecurity. It is time that we put that right. Indeed, landlords could also benefit from more stability. As well as feeling more secure, nothing is more important than people being safe in their homes, so we will also be implementing a new regulatory framework for building safety. It is no small task but it is the debt we owe to those who suffered so terribly from the Grenfell fire, because everyone must be safe and feel safe in their home, no matter where they live.