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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:45 pm on 11th April 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Gardner of Parkes Baroness Gardner of Parkes Conservative 7:45 pm, 11th April 2016

My Lords, I have mixed views on this because I recall the great victory of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, which ensured that all residential letting agents were obliged to be registered. I think that measure, which has been in force for a few years, is working very well. It seems to me that this is far too belt and braces and that the proposed measure would be so onerous and costly that it would end up costing tenants who want to rent these properties extra money. Is the noble Baroness aware of the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the registrations that are now applicable? I well remember the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, arguing at the time that there was no way of getting the bad agents to register. However, when the relevant amendment was passed and they had to be members of the relevant body, the situation changed.

I am slightly puzzled when I see glossy magazine advertisements letting properties which give the name of the agent and add in brackets “Fees apply”. I am not sure whether that means an extra fee is being levied on people when it should not be. It might be worth investigating that. However, I believe that tenants are good judges of whether a property looks reasonable and the cost suits their needs. We should be more concerned about the cases featured in newspapers in the last couple of weeks in which people are paying £70 a night to sleep in three-tier beds and all the rubbish in the world ends up outside because there are no proper toilet facilities. That is a different field which requires very careful consideration and attention. However, the everyday letting process used by ordinary tenants and agents seems to work reasonably well.