Clause 63 - Government policy on supported and temporary accommodation

Part of Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 28 November 2023.

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Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 2:15, 28 November 2023

The hon. Member is trying to press me for a specific timeframe, but I am unable to give him that commitment today.

I thank the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich for tabling new clause 60. The tragic case of Awaab Ishak’s death has thrown into sharp relief the need for the Government to continue our mission to rebalance the relationship between landlords and tenants in this country. It is right that all tenants across both sectors should expect safe and decent homes from their landlords. However, our focus for the private rented sector is to strengthen the enforcement of standards by local housing authorities, as well as introducing new means of redress through the PRS ombudsman.

We do not consider it to be of interest to private rented sector tenants to introduce a further route for potential litigation and enforcement. Private tenants already have rights when it comes to repairs in their home and the safety of their home. Private landlords are required to make sure that their homes are free from the most serious health and safety hazards. If hazards are present, the local housing authority can issue an improvement notice requiring them to be remedied within a specific time. Landlords who fail to comply can be prosecuted or fined up to £30,000. Additionally, if tenants consider that their rented home is not fit for human habitation, they can seek remedy through the courts under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, to which the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich referred.

Our focus is on strengthening the new system through the Bill. As I have just set out, we intend to introduce a decent homes standard in the private rented sector for the first time. The Government’s amendment to introduce the relevant provisions will place a stronger duty on landlords to keep their properties free from serious hazards, and allow local housing authorities to take enforcement action if private rented homes fail to meet decent homes standards. Through the Bill, we are also introducing a private rented sector ombudsman, which will be able to help private tenants to resolve repair issues quickly and for free if their landlord has not acted appropriately to remedy an issue within a reasonable timeframe.

Through existing legislation and new measures introduced by the Bill, private rented sector landlords will be held to account for providing safe and decent homes, and for providing timely repairs. We do not consider that it would be in the interest of private rented sector tenants to introduce a further route for potential litigation.