Committee (1st Day)

Part of Housing and Planning Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Palmer of Childs Hill Lord Palmer of Childs Hill Liberal Democrat 5:00 pm, 9th February 2016

My Lords, I support Amendments 2 and 7, and draw the Committee’s attention to my entry in the register of interests as a director of the Property Redress Scheme, one of the government recognised organisations.

Amendment 2, in the name of my noble friend Lady Grender, draws attention to the fact that this House and the other place do not consider legislation in a holistic fashion. We seem to consider one amendment to one piece of legislation without looking at the unintended consequences of that legislation, as identified by Amendment 2. Yes, we should address rogue landlords, however one describes them, but that will have an effect on the tenants of the relevant properties. The tenant who makes a complaint will have some protection in terms of getting rehoused, but the property may contain a number of tenants, including those who have not made a complaint against the landlord who is banned. If the property is no longer available for letting, those tenants will become homeless. My noble friend drew attention to the transfer of the relevant property to other people who are not specified in the Bill. What then happens to the tenants? We do not know that because we are not adopting a holistic approach to the legislation. The noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, said that we do not have consolidation Bills. We have unintentional effects because of that.

Amendment 7 was spoken to by my noble friend Lady Bakewell. The problem is that we pass legislation without considering sanctions. The sanctions are to be imposed by local authorities, which are having their grants reduced and are looking for ways not to spend money rather than to spend it. Amendment 7 proposes that local authorities which are proactive in implementing the legislation should retain the relevant financial penalty. When the Minister replies, will she say whether the Government have had discussions with trading standards departments, environmental health departments and housing departments on how they will implement this part of the legislation to ban rogue landlords? I know of only one London borough—Camden—that has a really active trading standards officer dealing with housing, but the rest do not have the finance to cover this area. Therefore, I hope that some research has been carried out with local authorities in England to determine whether these restrictions will bite where they need to.