Housing and Planning Bill - Report (1st Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 11th April 2016.

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Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 7:30 pm, 11th April 2016

My Lords, Clause 37 will require the Secretary of State to give every local authority in England access to information in the database of rogue landlords, which is fine as far as it goes. Amendment 22 in my name and those of the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, and the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, would put a requirement on every local authority for a tenant to also have access to that list. This is a sensible provision as these prospective tenants are the people who need to be aware who the rogue landlords are so that they can make an informed choice when seeking rented accommodation. The noble Baroness made that point in her contribution.

Of course, we are talking about only England in this clause, but there is nothing to stop rogue landlords operating elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Perhaps when the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, responds she can tell us, notwithstanding the amendment, how the information will be disseminated beyond England and how it will be handled by the devolved institutions, because you will not be a rogue landlord in England and a model landlord in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at the same time if you have properties there.

Amendments 23 and 24 would remove the requirement for anonymity when the information is used for research purposes. This is important as it can help to identify trends and patterns that may need to be addressed by the Government. The anonymity afforded here risks something being missed. Amendment 25 to the same clause would make it clear that the information can be used for the protection of tenants. If that is not the purpose of this whole part of the Bill, then what is its purpose?

The final amendment in this group, in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Beecham, would enable a housing authority not to grant a house in multiple occupation licence to someone on the database of rogue landlords. As we are all aware, occupants of HMO properties are often the most vulnerable of tenants. This seeks to afford some protection where the property is of sufficient size and number of people to require a HMO licence. I hope that the Government Front Bench can see the intent behind these amendments—to protect tenants—and will give the House a positive response.