Guest column: New bill will help stamp out rogue landlords

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

My colleague Karen Buck MP has a bill going through Parliament that would ensure that rented houses are fit for human habitation.

I support this Bill as I agree that tougher legal minimum standards for all private rented homes are necessary to drive up standards.

While the majority of landlords provide decent homes that tenants are happy with, there is effectively no minimum standard for private renters and rogue landlords are able to let homes that are non-decent, often for obscene prices.

Currently tenants are reliant on over-stretched council environmental health teams to stamp out dangerous homes rather than being able to take matters into their own hands.

The Government’s indication of support for this Bill is a welcome climb-down.

When ministers voted against an opposition proposal previously, they described it as ‘unnecessary regulation’ which will ‘deter investment and put up rents’.

I believe the Government must now rethink its refusal to help renters in other areas too.

At the General Election, I stood on a manifesto which pledged a consumer rights revolution to bring private renting into the 21st century.

The manifesto committed to introduce minimum standards to ensure that rented homes are free from serious faults and it promised to name and shame rogue landlords and introduce tough fines for those who fail to meet minimum standards.

More widely, I support giving local councils the automatic power to introduce compulsory licensing to tackle bad landlords and to drive up standards.

I am concerned that the Government’s changes to licensing schemes in 2015 is preventing local authorities from introducing measures to improve conditions for renters and is letting bad landlords off the hook.

After seven years of what I feel is failure on housing, with no action on poor standards and high costs for private renters, the Government has to do more to make private renting work.

Unfortunately I will be unable to attend Parliament for the Bill as I will be at my former colleague Ron Buck’s funeral in Maltby.

Many people who have lived in this area for a long time will have known Ron as he spent 30 years at the pit from 1955.

He was also a National Union of Mineworkers branch secretary and I worked with him as a local official.

I spoke to his daughter Caroline earlier this week to express my condolences to his whole family.