Property News

Housing and Planning Bill Passes Report Stage

Em Morley - January 6, 2016

Last night, the Housing and Planning Bill passed its report stage in the House of Commons.

After many official announcements beforehand, the debate started in the evening.

The bill is now set for its third reading. It is the first bill with an English legislative stage, with only English MPs allowed to vote on certain sections. The date for the English stage and third reading is yet to be confirmed.

Housing and Planning Bill Passes Report Stage

Housing and Planning Bill Passes Report Stage

The bill will introduce a blacklist of rogue landlords and letting agents, which will be made available to local authorities and central Government.

Additionally, for the first time, the bill will make it possible to ban landlords and agents from the industry. However, at present, the bill still allows banned letting agents to set up as estate agents.

Amendment 16, tabled by the Government, will raise the maximum fine for someone caught renting out substandard accommodation from £5,000 to £30,000.

The bill will also extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants and force local authorities to build starter homes for first time buyers; opponents have attacked the laws, believing they will bring an end to social housing.

A few hours before the debate yesterday, protestors gathered in Parliament Square to voice their opinions.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, representing Brighton Pavilion, voted against the bill.

She explains: “The housing crisis is biting hard. Renting is unaffordable, our social housing stock is dwindling and buying a home is still an impossible dream for many. And, as with so many of the challenges our society faces, it is the young who are suffering the worst.

“The Government had an opportunity to utterly rethink the housing model, but instead, Parliament is being presented with legislation that’s going to make the situation far worse and put another nail in the coffin for British social housing.”

However, she adds: “There are a few good measures in the bill. The provisions on rogue landlords, letting agents and the introduction of a brownfield register are welcome, but they simply don’t go far enough to protect renters or encourage the building of truly affordable homes.

“The overall effect of this legislation will be to inflict further harm on those already suffering and to drag more people into the housing crisis. It will decrease the amount of social housing, fail to bring down sky-high rental costs and do nothing to keep people warm in their homes.

“For example, the bill should have looked at ways to make rents fall, but it doesn’t even go as far as bringing in smart rent controls to keep them in line with inflation.”

She concludes: “The housing crisis we’re facing is the result of botched policies by successive Governments, and this latest bill is set to compound that failure.”1

What are your views on the new bill?