The Housing and Planning Bill was recently voted through commons with an outright rejection of a proposed amendment that would legally require landlords to ensure that the properties they rented out were fit for human habitation.
The Housing Bill was passed on Wednesday with a majority of 312 to 219.
The amendment was proposed by Labour MP Teresa Pearce who explained: “If I purchased food from a shop and it was unsafe to eat I would not only get a refund but there is a high possibility the shopkeeper could be prosecuted.
“Yet if I rent from a landlord, perhaps the only available property for me, and it was unsafe to live in then I can either put up or shut up. In a market where demand outstrips supply, renters lack basic consumer power to bargain for better conditions.”
Pearce argued that as it stands, something must be done to change the situation we are currently in where by “homes which are frankly unfit for human habitation being let, often at obscene prices.”
The proposed amendment would see fines of up to around £30,000 handed out to landlords whose properties were found to breach of the ëfit for human habitation ‘ condition.
Conservative MP Marcus Jones voiced the opposition to Pearce ‘s proposal, arguing not from disagreement with her basic point, but by question whether or not its implementation would actually help renters.
He argued that if the amendment had been passed then the apparently “unnecessary regulation and cost to landlords” would be likely to drive up rent costs and it would be tenants who would bear the brunt of the decision, not the landlords.
Jones went on: “Of course we believe that all homes should be of a decent standard and all tenants should have a safe place to live regardless of tenure, but local authorities already have strong and effective powers to deal with poor quality and safe accommodation and we expect them to use them.”
Jones and the rest of the MPs who voted against the amendment have been widely criticised for not properly taking into account the needs of tenants in both the rejection of this amendment and other aspects of the Housing and Planning Bill.
Also rejected was Caroline Lucas ‘ proposal to introduce a Living Rent Commission that would review market rent prices with the intention that they returned to a more affordable level across the board.
During the debate in commons about the Housing bill, many MPs took issue with the government ‘s use of the term ëaffordable ‘ as used in housing policy, which Mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan described as “elastic”.
Labour MP Helen Hayes said: “something does not simply become affordable because the government says so.”
She was among the many who also took the opportunity to criticise the recently passed bill that removed the ability for council housing tenants to remain in their homes for life. Instead, councils are now required to review each occupant ‘s tenancy every five years.