Originally posted on January 6 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
MPs staggered bleary eyed from the House of Commons at 2am last night without even getting to the most contentious parts of the Housing and Planning Bill.
Despite a series of obituaries for council housing and a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest outside, issues such as forced high-value sales, Pay to Stay and the voluntary Right to Buy will only be considered on day two of the report stage debate (set for next Tuesday, January 12).
Last night’s five-hour debate included starter homes, the regulation of housing associations, rogue landlords and the planning system. Opposition MPs complained that 65 pages of new clauses and amendments had been added at the last minute to a Bill that was only 145 pages long.
I blogged back in October that this a Bill written on the back of a fag packet and last night only confirmed that impression. The Bill also leaves a series of crucial decisions to be made by ministers by regulation later.
Nothing sums this up more than new clause 31 on planning obligations and affordable housing. This adds starter homes selling for up to £450,000 to the existing definition of affordable housing: homes for people whose needs are not adequately served by the market. However, it also adds that:
‘The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section so as to modify the definition of “affordable housing”.’
Whether you’re for or against measures to control private sector rents, it’s going to be worth watching closely what happens to new legislation in Ireland.
After a long row between the Irish coalition partners, the government has finally agreed a package of measures designed to give ‘rent certainty’ to tenants until supply increases. The package includes:
- For the next four years, landlords will only be allowed to increase their rents once every 24 months rather than 12 months as at present
- Landlords will have to give 90 days notice of any increase (up from 28)
- Landlords will have to provide evidence that any future increases are in line with the local market rate and inform tenants of their legal right to challenge them
- Tenants will have stronger protection against unscrupulous landlords who falsely declare they need to sell the home or move in a family member: landlords will have to sign a statutory declaration and face fines if it is invalid
- Landlords who house tenants on social security will get 100% mortgage tax relief against their rent (up from 75%).
Note that ‘rent certainty’ is not the same thing as rent control. What’s interesting about the package from this side of the Irish Sea is that it anticipates – and goes beyond – all of the points raised in the growing debate on rent regulation here. The Scottish Government is dipping its toe in the water with a Bill that will allow local rent control in rent pressure areas while Labour will call for new powers to freeze rents in London if Sadiq Khan wins next year’s mayoral election.
Originally posted on September 2 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
Rent control and increased security of tenure are back on the government agenda for the private rented sector for the first time in 30 years.
I am of course talking about the Scottish Government, which yesterday confirmed plans for a Private Tenancies Bill as part of its Programme for Scotland 2015/16. The Bill will ‘provide more predictable rents and protection for tenants against excessive rent increases, including the ability to introduce local rent controls for rent pressure areas’.
And it will introduce a Scottish Private Rented Tenancy to replace the current assured system and remove the ‘no-fault’ ground for repossession. That means the landlord will no longer be able to ask a tenant to leave just because the fixed term has ended but there will be ‘comprehensive and robust grounds for repossession that will allow landlords to regain possession in specified circumstances’.