Clause 31 - Housing activities under social rented sector scheme

Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 28 November 2023.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The clause removes the jurisdiction of the housing ombudsman service over private residential landlords and the private rented sector housing activities of social housing providers. I simply want to ask the Minister, given his announcement today about the housing ombudsman being the Government’s preferred provider of private rented sector redress, whether the provisions of this clause are still necessary, as the Government have made it clear that they intend the existing ombudsman to extend its remit to cover the private rented sector. Will the Government review the clause in the light of that announcement?

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

Any social housing redress scheme approved under the Housing Act 1996 provides redress services for the private rented tenancies of social landlords. An approved social redress scheme can also provide redress to tenants of private landlords who choose to join voluntarily. Currently, only one approved social housing redress scheme is administered by the housing ombudsman service.

Once brought into force, the clause will remove the private rented sector activities from the general jurisdiction of any approved social housing scheme. The clause will also stop any social housing redress scheme accepting relevant private landlords as voluntary members in relation to their private sector interests. However, the clause allows a social housing redress scheme to retain some jurisdiction over private rented sector activities if agreed with the Secretary of State. It does not prevent one organisation, such as the housing ombudsman, from administering both social and private redress schemes through a single, joined-up service. The clause will ensure that tenants who complain under the joined-up service are treated in exactly the same way as others who rent in the same sector.

The Bill provides a mechanism to bring the clause into force, but only once the new private rented sector ombudsman scheme is established. That will prevent disruption to members of existing schemes and avoid gaps in redress for tenants. If the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich has further questions, I am happy to write to him.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 31 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.