Clive Betts calls on Govt to recommit to delivering affordable housing – Mortgage Strategy

Clive Betts calls on Govt to recommit to delivering affordable housing – Mortgage Strategy

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Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee chair Clive Betts has called on the government to “recommit delivering the affordable homes the country needs, particularly the 90,000 social rent homes needed every year”.

Betts’ comments follow yesterday’s publication of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) recommendations to the government on reforming the private rented sector (PRS).

He says: “By its own admission, the government’s white paper did not address the underlying cause of the affordability crisis in the private rented sector, namely the decades-long failure of successive Governments to build enough homes.”

“Only a significant increase in housing, particularly affordable housing, will ultimately tackle the rocketing costs of renting for many tenants.”

The whitepaper, A Fairer Private Rented Sector, was published in June last year and set out its long-term vision for the sector.

It included plans such as a ban on Section 21 evictions and the creation of an ombudsman for private renters.

The committee’s report expresses concerns that the government’s white paper may have a negative impact on the student PRS market and highlights the threat to the PRS of the rise in holiday lets.

The report warns that the government’s proposed sales and occupations grounds in the paper could be “too easily exploited by bad landlords and become a backdoor to no-fault evictions”.

The committee recommends a series of changes to the sales and occupation grounds to help combat unfair eviction and insecurity of tenure.

However, the report welcomes the government’s plans to introduce a legally binding decent homes standard (DHS) but points to a series of obstacles threatening the ability of local councils to enforce the standard, including precarious local government finances, shortage of qualified enforcement staff, and a lack of reliable data. 

The committee recommends the government introduce a tougher civil penalties regime in the proposed renters’ reform bill to ensure councils have the capability to collect financial penalties on landlords who breach standards. 

LUHC chair Betts states: “The government should remedy the blight of unfair evictions and insecurity of tenure experienced by too many tenants today.”

“From our inquiry, it’s not clear the government fully appreciates that a creaking and unreformed courts system in England risks undermining their own tenancy reforms, including the welcome commitment to ban ‘no fault’ evictions.”

“For landlords and tenants, it’s vital the government now finds a practical way forward to enable courts to fast-track claims.”

Also commenting on the committee’s recommendations, National Residential Landlords Association (Nrla) policy director Chris Norris says: “We warmly welcome much of [the] report and thank the committee for taking on board many of the arguments we have made.”

“The Nrla has never been against reform of the sector, but it has to be fair and workable for both tenants and landlords. That is why the committee is right to call for court reform to underpin the ending of Section 21, changes in plans for student tenancies and ensuring cases of anti-social behaviour are prioritised by the courts.”

“As the Committee rightly notes, the biggest challenge faced by many renters is that there are not enough homes to rent.”

“All the protections in the world will mean nothing for tenants if the homes are not there in the first place. That’s why the government should accept the committee and the Nrla’s call for a full review of the impact of recent tax changes in the sector.”  

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