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Private Rented Sector

  1. Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab)

    12.

    What assessment he has made of the effect of borough-wide licensing schemes for private rented sector landlords on standards and safety in that sector.[900513]

  2. The Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Alok Sharma)

    Licensing can be an effective tool where it is targeted at delivering improved standards and safety in the private rented sector for areas suffering from serious problems. As the right hon. Gentleman will know, in April 2015 further conditions for applying selective licensing were introduced.

  3. Stephen Timms

    Newham Council introduced the first borough-wide private rented sector licensing in 2013. Last week, the council applied to renew the scheme for a further five years. It has been very successful, enabling the council, working with agencies such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, to concentrate resources on the small number of private landlords causing problems. Some 81% of Newham residents say it has been effective. Can the Minister reassure me that renewal of the scheme will get the go-ahead?

  4. Alok Sharma

    I can certainly reassure the right hon. Gentleman that the scheme will be considered on its merits and in accordance with whether it meets the strategy requirements in part 3 of the Housing Act 2004, which was, of course, introduced under a Labour Government.

  5. Wera Hobhouse (Bath) (LD)

    In Bath, we have a high number of family homes that have been turned into student accommodation, often with very low housing standards, and students take them up because they have no choice. In the light of the Grenfell disaster, will the Minister ensure that student safety is protected, by encouraging councils to include compulsory electrical safety checks as part of these licensing schemes?

  6. Alok Sharma

    We want all landlords, whether they provide student accommodation or otherwise, to keep their tenants safe. As the hon. Lady will know, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking at issues related to electrical safety.

  7. Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) (Lab/Co-op)

    The private rented sector has the poorest quality housing in my constituency. It is unregulated, and it needs looking at. I would very much welcome Manchester having a borough-wide licensing scheme like the one in Newham. I ask Ministers to take this issue very seriously, before we see safety concerns in the private rented sector as well.

  8. Alok Sharma

    If Manchester, or indeed any other area, wants to come forward with such proposals, they should make them known to the DCLG, and we will look at them on their merits.