Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill, Second Reading, House of Lords, 23 November 2018

"We welcome the powers granted by the Government for councils to impose civil penalties of up to £30,000 for the worst housing offences."


Key messages

  • We support the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill. Councils want their residents to live in homes that are decent, safe and secure, and councils’ housing teams work hard to ensure homes are fit for purpose.
  • The level of funding which councils have to allocate to enforcing housing standards is inadequate. The rapid growth in the private rented sector has not been matched by resources for councils to fund their environmental health teams. It is vital that the Government provides additional funding for environmental health services alongside this Bill.
  • The nationally-set system which councils use to assess housing standards is severely out of date. Local authorities are keen to work with the Government to strengthen the assessment system, and to clarify the statutory powers of the Housing Ombudsman.
  • We are concerned that a lack of time and financial resource could leave some tenants unable to bring a case to court. Bringing a successful case under the legislation could require substantial financial support to be provided, and the Government should consider providing resources for this.
  • We welcome the powers granted by the Government for councils to impose civil penalties of up to £30,000 for the worst housing offences. Councils have limited powers to introduce discretionary licensing schemes for private landlords, and should be given full flexibility to extend these schemes.
  • Local government faces a funding gap of approximately £3.2 billion in 2019/20, rising to £7.8 billion in 2024/25. We are calling on the Government to use the 2019 Spending Review to invest sustainably in local authorities, so that housing enforcement teams are equipped to deal with poor standards.

Download the full briefing
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill, Second Reading, House of Lords, 23 November 2018