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 Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 7:45 pm, 11th April 2016

My Lords, we are supportive of both Amendments 27 and 28 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville. Amendment 27 would require the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice for the letting and management of private rented sector housing in England. As often with legislation, you are legislating to deal with the end of the market that wants to cut a few corners. The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of private sector landlords do a very good job and provide tenants with a better choice, better management standards and better homes than the code would allow for. However, the proposed code would afford an additional layer of protection and help to lift up those landlords who are not always the best in the business and raise standards generally. The list of organisations is comprehensive in nature and would allow the Secretary of State the flexibility though proposed new paragraph 3(j) to consult “other persons or organisations” as he considers appropriate, which is sensible as organisations come and go, and needs and requirements change.

Amendment 28 would require the Secretary of State to keep and publish a register of letting agents. This, again, is a very welcome move and would bring a sensible and proportionate measure to this part of the housing market by requiring a register to be maintained. These agents facilitate agreements between landlords and tenants. There is a proper role for local authorities in maintaining the register as they will be aware who is operating in their area. The amendment prescribes what information is to be held on the register. Proposed new subsection (8) of the amendment would allow the Secretary of State to,

“make further provision about the register”.

It is a sensible move to take this power. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, will accept the amendment. However, if she will not, I hope that she will explain carefully to the House why that is the case.