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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:15 pm on 11th April 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 8:15 pm, 11th April 2016

I do not think I have the statistics the noble Lord has asked for, but we have seen a significant reduction in the number of non-decent homes since we came into government in 2010—it is down by 64%. However, on the particular question, I do not have the figures to hand, so I may have to write to him following this debate.

We are strengthening the powers that I outlined previously by taking forward proposals through the Bill to enable local authorities to take further enforcement against rogue landlords, including through the database, banning orders, civil penalty notices and rent repayment orders. Noble Lords have argued that local authorities have limited resources to carry out inspections and take forward prosecutions but, through the new civil penalty measures outlined in the Bill, they would be able to retain those penalties, of up to £30,000, to use for housing-related activities.

The real problem is that tenants are often not aware of their rights when renting a home. To counter this, last year we published a short guide, Renting a Safe Home, which aims to help tenants recognise potentially harmful hazards in the home, such as damp, mould and excess cold, and to signpost them on what to do if something goes wrong. However, we understand the strength of feeling in the House on this and therefore commit to working with stakeholders to revisit this publication—to make it more user-friendly and to promote it further—to ensure that tenants are aware of their rights.

We believe that this proposed new clause would result in additional costs to landlords, which would deter further investment and push up rents for tenants. Of course we believe that all homes should be of a decent standard, and that all tenants should have a safe place in which to live regardless of tenure, but local authorities—