My Lords, I remind the House that I am a vice-president of the Local Government Association. I support the points made by my noble friend Lady Grender and those made by the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, on selective licensing schemes. I hope that we all agree that it should not take two years to adopt selective licences.
However, I support the statutory instrument. I note that it has commanded broad support during consultation, which is important. I also note that the consultation has led to several additions to the list of offences, which confirms the value of consultation. That is because it is one thing to have banning orders and another to ensure their effective implementation, as has been made clear. There is a resources issue for local authorities, which I hope that the Minister will be willing to comment on when he replies, because resources need to be there for banning orders to be implemented properly.
The Minister referred to the statutory instrument being part of a package. It is indeed only one reform that we need to the private rented sector. We need action on letting fees for agents and capping of up-front deposits—about which a great deal has been said—but also an improvement in minimum standards for private rented tenants. Mention was just made of electricity safety checks, which are fundamental to get right.
It is vital that private rented tenants feel secure. It would therefore help to have a system for tenants and potential tenants to access a database of rogue landlords. If there is a list, it needs to be transparent and available to tenants and prospective tenants, otherwise how do they know that their prospective landlord is rogue? Of course, that person would in law have been banned, but it is important that tenants know who those people are.
Twenty per cent of all homes in the United Kingdom are now privately rented. The proportion has risen by half in the past decade. As the Minister knows, I believe that we must build more social homes to rent to reduce public dependency on the private rented sector, where heavy demand has led to high rent and to 750,000 private rented homes—one in six of the total—containing, according to the English Housing Survey, a hazard representing a serious risk to personal health and safety.
This number is unacceptable. It is too high. I hope that the Minister can confirm that the Government will continue to take the necessary action to support private rented sector tenants having decent, secure accommodation.