Lords debates rented housing sector

13 July 2012

Members of the Lords debated the problems faced by families in the rented housing sector yesterday (Thursday 12 July).

The debate follows the new English Housing Survey, published on 5 July by the Department for Communities and Local Government.  

Vice president of homelessness charity Shelter, Baroness Rendell of Babergh (Labour), opened the debate by outlining some of the main issues like high demand, poverty and 'non decent' conditions.

She said: 'If properties to rent were well maintained and offered at reasonable rents, matters would look very different. As it is, the scale of problems in the private rented sector raises serious questions about the suitability of private renting in general.'

Baroness Scott of Needham Market (Liberal Democrat), a former councillor for Mid Suffolk District Council, spoke of affordability for the increasing numbers of families living in private rented housing.

She said: 'Tenants have to find a deposit, a month's rent in advance and fees for letting agents. It is bad enough if you are trying to do that every five years or so, but in a volatile market people are often having to do it every year. Rents are high relative to the incomes of people in the private rented sector.'

Lords spoke from their experience of different parts of the UK. Lord Greaves (Liberal Democrat), a Local Government Association vice president and a councillor for Pennine-Lancashire, Pendle, Colne and Waterside, spoke of his concerns about rent controls. 

Baroness Turner of Camden (Labour) mentioned London, where she said housing is no longer affordable for young families.

She explained: 'When I first moved into the area in which I live, over 40 years ago, West Hampstead was not regarded as particularly posh... However, there has been an enormous change. The large houses have all been transformed into flats, with many let at very high prices - £500 a week is quite normal for a one-bedroom flat.'

Baroness Hanham (Conservative), minister for the Department for Communities and Local Government responded on behalf of the government. She stated: 'I want to state that the government are investing £4.5 billion in funding new affordable homes over the next spending review period - not an insignificant sum - and that the private sector funding contributed by providers to deliver these properties is some £15 billion. So there is huge monetary investment in housing.' 

Further information

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More news on: Housing and planning, Parliament, government and politics, Parliament, Housing, Private rented housing, Social rented housing, Housing benefits, House of Lords news, Members of the Lords, Lords news

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