Committee (1st Day)

Part of Housing and Planning Bill – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 7:30 pm, 9th February 2016

My Lords, the working group will meet in March and I would not want to pre-empt what it will come up with or recommend. I am saying that there is existing legislation to do what my noble friend Lord Flight suggests, but it is a question of local authorities’ willingness to take it up, which is varied. I cannot pre-empt what the working group will say.

My noble friend also made the point that only the good landlords will come forward, and I agree with that. I also agree that local authorities should focus their enforcement on the small number of rogues who knowingly flout their obligations, and that what is why we are establishing the database.

The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, asked how the council can crack down on a landlord if the tenant does not know them. The tenant can raise concerns with the council, which can use the powers in the Housing Act 2004 and seek action from the landlord or the property manager. The tenant may not know the landlord, but they should know the managing agent.

My noble friend Lord Flight asked how local authorities know where the rogue landlords are. Obviously the database will be built up, but authorities will be able to combine the tenancy deposit data with existing data sets, such as council tax and housing benefit data, to identify properties that are not on the tenancy deposit protection list and hence those potentially belonging to rogue landlords.

The noble Lord, Lord Foster, asked about immigration, particularly illegal immigration, and how those tenants would be identified. The Immigration Act 2014 introduces a requirement now to check the immigration status of the tenants. Where a landlord has concerns about a tenant’s immigration status, he should contact the Home Office. Local authorities can also raise any concerns regarding illegal immigrants with the Home Office.

With those points, I hope that the noble Lord will feel content to withdraw his amendment.