We have had a very successful planning system to date, which has been supported by all Governments. The regulatory bodies are extremely experienced, well intentioned and well practised in their duties. Without the simple and incontrovertible logic of the amendment, which spells out what the Government themselves want to achieve, we will introduce more confusion and delay. So I hope that the Minister will listen seriously to the arguments for it.

The Earl of Lindsay (Con): My Lords, in speaking to the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, I should note my current involvement with the Better Regulation Strategy Group, the independent body that advises the present Government on better regulation. I should also note, as it is relevant to my perspective on the amendment, my former involvement in the two predecessor bodies that advised the previous Government—the Better Regulation Commission, of which I was vice-chairman, and the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council.

Based on my experience of those three independent bodies advising government on better regulation, I question the need for Amendment 44A. If the proposed duty as set out in the Bill were to override regulators’ powers of protection, compromise their decision-making or supersede their existing regulatory duties—or if there were any ambiguity about those three important assessments—I would wholly understand the need for the amendment. But in my judgment that is not the case.

The proposed growth duty will not override or cut across regulators’ powers of protection. It is simply an additional factor for regulators to take into account when they are making their decisions. It will not compromise their decision-making and, as I understand it, it will not supersede regulators’ existing duties. It will not remove the responsibility of businesses to comply with what the law or regulations require of them. The duty will therefore not compromise the independence of regulators. They will continue to have decision-making autonomy, exactly as they do now. Regulators will therefore remain free to decide how best to incorporate the duty into the decision- making involved in performing their primary statutory functions.

11 Feb 2015 : Column 1258

I have been looking at the published draft guidance that the Government issued in January, and I believe that it makes very clear many of the points that I have just mentioned. I understand that the guidance is continuing to be developed in discussion with the regulators so that it can be finalised before the policy comes into force. That guidance makes it clear that the proposed duty does not encourage regulators to reduce protections or to ignore non-compliance.

For the benefit of noble Lords who have not seen the published draft guidance, Non-economic Regulators: Duty to Have Regard to Growth, I draw their attention to the beginning of chapter 2, on page 5, which sets out the purpose of the duty. The very first sentence reads:

“Regulators exist primarily to protect people or achieve other social or environmental outcomes”.

That is an important headline sentence, which reminds us of the principal duty that regulators must subscribe to. The second paragraph on that page says:

“The duty requires that economic growth is a factor”—

not the factor, but a factor—

“to be taken into account alongside regulators’ other statutory duties … The duty does not set out how economic growth ranks against existing duties as this is a judgment only a regulator can and should make … The duty does not oblige the regulator to place a particular weight on growth”.

Those are only a few extracts from one page of the draft guidance, but they set out a clear proposition in terms of the importance of maintaining the balance between regulators having regard, as appropriate, to growth and their maintaining protections. As I see it, the proposed duty will complement existing duties and will not override or cut across regulators’ powers of protection, nor their responsibilities for ensuring protection. It will be for a regulator to weigh up the desirability of economic growth against each of the other factors it must consider, and tailor its approach accordingly.

In some circumstances those factors will sit well together; in others the regulator will need to decide how much weight to afford to each factor for the best outcome. On the basis of the wisdom that was developed through the Better Regulation Commission, the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council and so on, I believe that the regulator’s expertise means that it is best placed to decide what weight it is appropriate to afford growth in the relevant circumstances.

I therefore disagree with the insistence of the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, that only Parliament can rank those factors. In a good regulatory regime there should be discretion for the regulators to make judgments between parallel factors, because they can take account of the exact circumstances in which they are regulating. Therefore, although the growth duty clause as drafted requires that growth be put on the same footing as other duties—in other words, it enables regulators to have regard to growth—it also ensures that essential protections are maintained.

We should not lose sight of the importance of the new growth duty and the benefits that will flow from it. Regulators spend some £2 billion each year on regulatory activities, and still to this day more than half of businesses see regulation as a barrier to their

11 Feb 2015 : Column 1259

success. The duty is required to clarify the fact that growth is an important factor for regulators to take into account, and it will ensure that regulation is delivered in a way that best supports growth. It will also ensure that the protection intended to be given by regulations is still delivered. On those grounds, although I understand the motives behind the amendment, I genuinely believe that it is unnecessary, and that the balance will be not only maintained but enhanced by the Bill as drafted.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we have heard three excellent and very sober speeches on the amendment, for which I thank noble Lords. There is only a small difference between the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, and myself, on behalf of the Government. We are talking about balance—the balance among a range of factors that we wish regulators to consider.

6 pm

I thank the noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, for his speech. I had forgotten that he was vice-chair of the Better Regulation Commission, on which my wife also served with him. The continuity of the approach which the last Government and the current Government have taken to regulation should be marked. We have not differed very much in the way we approach regulation as such.

Although the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, recognises that growth should be a factor which we take into account among other factors in considering the balance, he fears that this duty, in spite of what the Bill and the guidance clearly say, will nevertheless come to override other factors. He is suspicious that there may be some underlying hidden motivations behind them when he talks about nuances. I reassure him that nothing in the Bill, the guidance or the draft regulations gives any credence to what he fears.

If a regulator has had regard to growth and can justify its decision, a business cannot expect successfully to challenge that decision. Businesses cannot use the growth duty to escape legitimate compliance costs. I am very familiar with the work of the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, in English Heritage and I recall with pleasure escorting her on her inspection visit to Saltaire as a world heritage site—it is just possible that one or two noble Lords are not familiar with the fact that Saltaire is a world heritage site, so I rub that in. I say to the noble Baroness that the growth duty is not a higher duty which would trump existing considerations. Therefore, where regulators are required to consider sustainable development or environmental and social concerns, they will continue to do so. It will be for the individual regulator to decide whether, in view of the duty and the guidance, they are striking the appropriate balance between growth and the other factors they are required to take into account.

Clause 88 is clear that the growth duty is a duty to have regard to the desirability of economic growth. It does not provide that the duty should take precedence over a regulator’s existing and other duties. As a result, it does not in any way override or cut across a regulator’s existing powers of protection. The duty sits alongside the other duties and functions of regulators, and it is for each regulator to decide what weight, if any, to

11 Feb 2015 : Column 1260

afford to the desirability of economic growth, depending on the decision they are making. It cannot compel a regulator to take action in the interest of growth at the expense of other protections. In some circumstances, these factors will sit well together; in others, the regulator will need to decide how much weight to afford each factor for the best outcome. We are all familiar with the problems of regulation in that regard. The regulators’ expertise means that they are best placed to decide what weight is appropriate to attach to the desirability of economic growth against other factors in the relevant circumstances.

The Opposition Front Bench asked when the orders listing the functions to which the duty will apply, and the guidance for regulators, will be brought into force. They are intended to be brought into force in October this year by whichever Government are then in office.

The draft guidance sets out how regulators can implement the duty alongside their existing functions, and has been well received by the regulators. The noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, has already quoted it, but it also states:

“The duty does not compromise the independence of regulators, nor does it supplant or replace a regulator’s existing duties”.

It further states that the growth duty,

“does not remove or diminish in any way the responsibility of business to comply with the law”.

It is therefore not necessary to state on the face of the Bill that the duty will apply only where it is consistent with a regulator’s existing regulatory functions. As I have said, the draft guidance is quite clear that the duty is simply an additional factor for regulators to take into account as they carry out their existing regulatory functions and ensure regulatory protections, and that the duty does not expect regulators to ignore illegal behaviour. Given the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, in the transport field, I particularly note his comments about risk assessment and the large expenditure one sometimes has to make to mitigate the risks involved.

The post-implementation review of the Regulators’ Code showed that it had not gone far enough to incentivise change as the code is trumped by all other statutory duties affecting regulators. The growth duty clause, as drafted, therefore requires that growth is put on the same footing as other duties, enabling regulators to have regard to growth while ensuring that essential protections are maintained.

I hope that that gives the noble Lord sufficient assurance to be willing to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Tunnicliffe: My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, for explaining how the point we are making has a wider application, particularly as regards a chilling effect. Some of these regulators are quite small, some have very tight budgets and some may face very large organisations, particularly in the planning world. The chilling effect on behaviour takes place over time.

I respect the experience of the noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, in this field—it is interesting that we have ended up with two regulators and a regulatee in this debate—but I am afraid that I do not share his view. The duty we

11 Feb 2015 : Column 1261

are discussing may not cut across others but certainly has the potential to be considered on an equal footing. He quoted the draft guidance, which is now over a year old. The Government have not thought fit to revise it; I wish that they had. I do not find the draft guidance clear. Indeed, it is a wonderful topic to debate as, rather like the works of Karl Marx, you can find anything to justify anything. It contains as many words of assurance—which the noble Earl found—as of discomfort, which I found. The noble Earl mentioned a figure of £2 billion, which I believe the department subsequently withdrew. I believe that the £2 billion represents the gross sum of the regulatory bodies but does not cover just their regulatory work. I believe that a figure emerged that was half that sum.

The comments of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, in many ways reflected what was said in various meetings. I am not accusing the Government of a conspiracy here. I do not think that the Government want to roar through the countryside, throwing out regulation all over the place by means of this clause and I am very persuaded by the bureaucracy point, which was well made in the regulations and the supporting documentation. However, the issue of protection worries me. If noble Lords do not agree with my amendment, they are implying that the exercise of the function we are discussing could be inconsistent with the proper exercise of the existing regulatory functions. For that reason, I wish to test the opinion of the House.

6.08 pm

Division on Amendment 44A

Contents 158; Not-Contents 222.

Amendment 44A disagreed.

Division No.  2


Adams of Craigielea, B.

Allen of Kensington, L.

Alli, L.

Alton of Liverpool, L.

Anderson of Swansea, L.

Andrews, B.

Armstrong of Hill Top, B.

Bach, L.

Bakewell, B.

Bassam of Brighton, L. [Teller]

Beecham, L.

Berkeley, L.

Blackstone, B.

Boateng, L.

Borrie, L.

Brennan, L.

Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.

Brookman, L.

Browne of Ladyton, L.

Campbell-Savours, L.

Carter of Coles, L.

Cashman, L.

Chandos, V.

Chester, Bp.

Clancarty, E.

Clark of Windermere, L.

Clarke of Hampstead, L.

Clinton-Davis, L.

Collins of Highbury, L.

Corston, B.

Crawley, B.

Cunningham of Felling, L.

Davies of Coity, L.

Davies of Oldham, L.

Davies of Stamford, L.

Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.

Deech, B.

Desai, L.

Donaghy, B.

Drake, B.

Dubs, L.

Elder, L.

Elystan-Morgan, L.

Evans of Temple Guiting, L.

Farrington of Ribbleton, B.

Faulkner of Worcester, L.

Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.

Foulkes of Cumnock, L.

Gale, B.

Golding, B.

Gordon of Strathblane, L.

Goudie, B.

Grantchester, L.

Grocott, L.

Hameed, L.

Hanworth, V.

11 Feb 2015 : Column 1262

Harris of Haringey, L.

Harrison, L.

Hart of Chilton, L.

Haughey, L.

Haworth, L.

Hayter of Kentish Town, B.

Healy of Primrose Hill, B.

Henig, B.

Hollis of Heigham, B.

Howarth of Newport, L.

Howells of St Davids, B.

Howie of Troon, L.

Hughes of Woodside, L.

Hunt of Chesterton, L.

Hunt of Kings Heath, L.

Hylton, L.

Jones, L.

Jones of Whitchurch, B.

Judd, L.

Kennedy of Cradley, B.

Kennedy of Southwark, L.

King of Bow, B.

Kinnock, L.

Kinnock of Holyhead, B.

Kirkhill, L.

Lane-Fox of Soho, B.

Lawrence of Clarendon, B.

Lea of Crondall, L.

Levy, L.

Liddle, L.

Lister of Burtersett, B.

Low of Dalston, L.

Lytton, E.

McAvoy, L.

McDonagh, B.

McFall of Alcluith, L.

McIntosh of Hudnall, B.

MacKenzie of Culkein, L.

Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.

McKenzie of Luton, L.

Mallalieu, B.

Massey of Darwen, B.

Maxton, L.

Mendelsohn, L.

Mitchell, L.

Monks, L.

Morgan of Ely, B.

Morris of Aberavon, L.

Morris of Handsworth, L.

Nye, B.

O'Loan, B.

O'Neill of Bengarve, B.

O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.

Patel of Bradford, L.

Pendry, L.

Pitkeathley, B.

Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.

Prescott, L.

Prosser, B.

Rea, L.

Reid of Cardowan, L.

Richard, L.

Rooker, L.

Rosser, L.

Rowe-Beddoe, L.

Sawyer, L.

Scotland of Asthal, B.

Sherlock, B.

Simon, V.

Smith of Basildon, B.

Smith of Finsbury, L.

Smith of Gilmorehill, B.

Snape, L.

Soley, L.

Stevenson of Balmacara, L.

Stoddart of Swindon, L.

Stone of Blackheath, L.

Symons of Vernham Dean, B.

Taylor of Blackburn, L.

Taylor of Bolton, B.

Temple-Morris, L.

Touhig, L.

Trees, L.

Triesman, L.

Tunnicliffe, L. [Teller]

Turnberg, L.

Turner of Camden, B.

Uddin, B.

Wall of New Barnet, B.

Warner, L.

Warwick of Undercliffe, B.

Watson of Invergowrie, L.

West of Spithead, L.

Wheeler, B.

Whitaker, B.

Whitty, L.

Wigley, L.

Wilkins, B.

Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Worcester, Bp.

Worthington, B.

Young of Norwood Green, L.


Addington, L.

Ahmad of Wimbledon, L.

Anelay of St Johns, B.

Ashcroft, L.

Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.

Ashton of Hyde, L.

Astor of Hever, L.

Attlee, E.

Avebury, L.

Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, B.

Balfe, L.

Barker, B.

Bates, L.

Berridge, B.

Best, L.

Bew, L.

Black of Brentwood, L.

Blackwell, L.

Blencathra, L.

Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.

Borwick, L.

Bottomley of Nettlestone, B.

Bourne of Aberystwyth, L.

Brabazon of Tara, L.

Brady, B.

Brinton, B.

Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.

Brougham and Vaux, L.

Browne of Belmont, L.

Burnett, L.

Byford, B.

Caithness, E.

Callanan, L.

Carrington of Fulham, L.

Cathcart, E.

Chidgey, L.

Clement-Jones, L.

Colville of Culross, V.

Colwyn, L.

Condon, L.

Cooper of Windrush, L.

Cormack, L.

11 Feb 2015 : Column 1263

Cotter, L.

Courtown, E.

Craig of Radley, L.

Craigavon, V.

Crathorne, L.

Cumberlege, B.

De Mauley, L.

Deighton, L.

Denham, L.

Dholakia, L.

Dixon-Smith, L.

Dobbs, L.

Doocey, B.

Eaton, B.

Eccles, V.

Eccles of Moulton, B.

Edmiston, L.

Elton, L.

Empey, L.

Evans of Bowes Park, B.

Falkner of Margravine, B.

Farmer, L.

Faulks, L.

Finkelstein, L.

Flight, L.

Fookes, B.

Forsyth of Drumlean, L.

Fowler, L.

Framlingham, L.

Freeman, L.

Garden of Frognal, B.

Gardiner of Kimble, L. [Teller]

Gardner of Parkes, B.

Geddes, L.

German, L.

Glasgow, E.

Glenarthur, L.

Goddard of Stockport, L.

Goodlad, L.

Goschen, V.

Gould of Potternewton, B.

Greenway, L.

Grender, B.

Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.

Hamilton of Epsom, L.

Hamwee, B.

Hanham, B.

Harris of Peckham, L.

Hay of Ballyore, L.

Helic, B.

Henley, L.

Heyhoe Flint, B.

Higgins, L.

Hodgson of Abinger, B.

Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.

Holmes of Richmond, L.

Home, E.

Horam, L.

Howard of Rising, L.

Howarth of Breckland, B.

Howe, E.

Howe of Idlicote, B.

Howell of Guildford, L.

Humphreys, B.

Hunt of Wirral, L.

Hussain, L.

Hussein-Ece, B.

Inglewood, L.

Jenkin of Kennington, B.

Jolly, B.

Jones of Birmingham, L.

Jones of Cheltenham, L.

Jopling, L.

Kilclooney, L.

Kirkham, L.

Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.

Lang of Monkton, L.

Lawson of Blaby, L.

Leigh of Hurley, L.

Lexden, L.

Lindsay, E.

Lingfield, L.

Liverpool, E.

Luke, L.

Lyell, L.

McColl of Dulwich, L.

MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.

Mackay of Clashfern, L.

Maclennan of Rogart, L.

McNally, L.

Maddock, B.

Magan of Castletown, L.

Maginnis of Drumglass, L.

Mancroft, L.

Manzoor, B.

Mar and Kellie, E.

Marks of Henley-on-Thames, L.

Marland, L.

Marlesford, L.

Mobarik, B.

Moynihan, L.

Naseby, L.

Neville-Jones, B.

Neville-Rolfe, B.

Newby, L. [Teller]

Newlove, B.

Noakes, B.

Northbrook, L.

Norton of Louth, L.

O'Cathain, B.

Oppenheim-Barnes, B.

Paddick, L.

Palmer of Childs Hill, L.

Parminter, B.

Patel, L.

Patten, L.

Perry of Southwark, B.

Phillips of Sudbury, L.

Pinnock, B.

Popat, L.

Purvis of Tweed, L.

Randerson, B.

Rawlings, B.

Razzall, L.

Redesdale, L.

Rennard, L.

Ribeiro, L.

Ridley, V.

Risby, L.

Roberts of Llandudno, L.

Rogan, L.

Scott of Needham Market, B.

Seccombe, B.

Selborne, E.

Selkirk of Douglas, L.

Selsdon, L.

Shackleton of Belgravia, B.

Sharp of Guildford, B.

Sharples, B.

Sheikh, L.

Shephard of Northwold, B.

Sherbourne of Didsbury, L.

Shipley, L.

Shutt of Greetland, L.

Skelmersdale, L.

Smith of Clifton, L.

Smith of Newnham, B.

Spicer, L.

Stedman-Scott, B.

Steel of Aikwood, L.

Stephen, L.

Sterling of Plaistow, L.

11 Feb 2015 : Column 1264

Stewartby, L.

Stoneham of Droxford, L.

Stowell of Beeston, B.

Strasburger, L.

Strathclyde, L.

Suri, L.

Suttie, B.

Taverne, L.

Taylor of Goss Moor, L.

Teverson, L.

Thomas of Gresford, L.

Tope, L.

Trefgarne, L.

Tugendhat, L.

Tyler of Enfield, B.

Ullswater, V.

Wallace of Saltaire, L.

Wallace of Tankerness, L.

Walmsley, B.

Warnock, B.

Warsi, B.

Wasserman, L.

Wheatcroft, B.

Whitby, L.

Wilcox, B.

Williams of Crosby, B.

Williams of Trafford, B.

Willis of Knaresborough, L.

6.24 pm

Amendment 45

Moved by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

45: After Clause 29, insert the following new Clause—

“Tenancy deposits: provision of information by agents

(1) The Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007 (S.I. 2007/797) is amended as follows.

(2) In article 2 (prescribed information relating to tenancy deposits), after paragraph (2) insert—

“(3) In a case where the initial requirements of an authorised scheme have been complied with in relation to the deposit by a person (“the initial agent”) acting on the landlord’s behalf in relation to the tenancy—

(a) references in paragraphs (1)(b), (g)(iii) and (vii) to the landlord are to be read as references to either the landlord or the initial agent;

(b) references in paragraphs (1)(d), (e), (g)(iv) and (vi) and (2) to the landlord are to be read as references to either the landlord or a person who acts on the landlord’s behalf in relation to the tenancy.

(4) In any other case, references in paragraphs (1)(d), (e), (g)(iv) and (vi) and (2) to the landlord are to be read as references to either the landlord or a person who acts on the landlord’s behalf in relation to the tenancy.

(5) Section 212(9)(a) of the Act (references to landlord include persons acting on landlord’s behalf) does not apply for the purposes of this article.”

(3) After article 2 insert—

“3 Article 2(3) to (5): transitional provisions

(1) Paragraphs (3) to (5) of article 2 are treated as having had effect since 6th April 2007, subject to the following provisions of this article.

(2) Paragraphs (3) to (5) of article 2 do not have effect in relation to—

(a) a claim under section 214 of the Act or section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 in respect of a tenancy which is settled before the commencement date (whether or not proceedings in relation to the claim have been instituted), or

(b) proceedings under either of those sections in respect of a tenancy which have been finally determined before the commencement date.

(3) Paragraph (5) applies in respect of a tenancy if—

(a) proceedings under section 214 of the Act in respect of the tenancy have been instituted before the commencement date but have not been settled or finally determined before that date, and

(b) because of paragraphs (3) to (5) of article 2, the court decides—

(i) not to make an order under section 214(4) of that Act in respect of the tenancy, or

(ii) to allow an appeal by the landlord against such an order.

(4) Paragraph (5) also applies in respect of a tenancy if—

11 Feb 2015 : Column 1265

(a) proceedings for possession under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 in respect of the tenancy have been instituted before the commencement date but have not been settled or finally determined before that date, and

(b) because of paragraphs (3) to (5) of article 2, the court decides—

(i) to make an order for possession under that section in respect of the tenancy, or

(ii) to allow an appeal by the landlord against a refusal to make such an order.

(5) Where this paragraph applies, the court must not order the tenant or any relevant person (as defined by section 213(10) of the Act) to pay the landlord’s costs, to the extent that the court reasonably considers those costs are attributable to the proceedings under section 214 of the Act or (as the case may be) section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

(6) Proceedings have been “finally determined” for the purposes of this article if —

(a) they have been determined by a court, and

(b) there is no further right to appeal against the determination.

(7) There is no further right to appeal against a court determination if there is no right to appeal against the determination, or there is such a right but—

(a) the time limit for making an appeal has expired without an appeal being brought, or

(b) an appeal brought within that time limit has been withdrawn.

(8) In this article “the commencement date” means the date on which the Deregulation Act 2015 is passed.”

(4) The amendments made by this section to the Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007 (S.I. 2007/797) do not affect a power to use subordinate legislation to amend or revoke that Order.

(5) In subsection (4), “subordinate legislation” has the same meaning as in the Interpretation Act 1978.”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 45 and 45A before moving on to Amendment 46. Amendments 45 and 45A have been tabled in response to a recent court case, Charalambous v Ng 2014, and an unreported county court case, Cooper v Collins, which have created uncertainty in the private rented sector.

Amendment 45 clarifies that, where a letting agent has received a deposit on behalf of a landlord, the letting agent’s contact details can be given in the prescribed information instead of the landlord’s details. It makes detailed amendments to the Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007—the order that lists the prescribed information that a landlord must give to a tenant—to make absolutely clear when a letting agent’s details may be provided instead of the landlord’s. The amendments to the order are retrospective, making clear that it is and always has been the case that a letting agent’s details may be provided in the prescribed information instead of the landlord’s. In speaking to these amendments and those that follow, I declare my interest as a landlord.

To ensure fairness, provision is also being made that would prevent the reopening of out of court settlements or court cases that have been finally determined on the basis of this issue. The amendments will apply in cases where legal proceedings are under way at the time the provisions come into force, but tenants will be protected from paying their landlord’s legal costs where

11 Feb 2015 : Column 1266

the court subsequently decides against the tenant in the light of these provisions. This strikes the right balance between ensuring that tenants do not suffer financially as a result of the retrospective legislation and ensuring that landlords are not penalised where they have followed government advice.

Amendment 45A has been tabled in response to the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the case of Charalambous v Ng 2014, which concerned a landlord who received a tenancy deposit prior to the coming into force of the tenancy deposit legislation in 2007. The tenancy in question became periodic prior to the date that the tenancy deposit legislation came into force and has continued as such ever since. The court ruled that the tenancy deposit legislation should apply to all landlords in this position and that they would therefore need to protect deposits if they wished to rely on the no-fault ground for eviction known as Section 21. It was never the intention, either in 2007 or following amendments made to the tenancy deposit legislation in 2012, that it should apply in this way. The amendments that we propose will make absolutely clear that, although landlords affected by the judgment will need to protect deposits if they wish to rely on Section 21, they will not be at risk of financial penalties should they fail to protect.

Moving on to Amendment 46, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter of Kentish Town, for her desire to clarify “prescribed information” in relation to lettings, to which I have just spoken. Her amendment makes provisions along similar lines to those that I just outlined on Amendment 45. While the Government agree with the noble Baroness on this point, we believe that Amendment 45 addresses the issues in a more detailed way than Amendment 46. I hope that the noble Baroness will be sufficiently satisfied not to move her amendment.

The Government’s amendments will make welcome clarifications to the tenancy deposit legislation. I beg to move.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for that. He will not be surprised that I am delighted that the Government have seen sense and tabled their amendments, which are in far more correct language than I managed. They implement the amendment that I moved in Committee, which, as he said, appears in the Marshalled List as Amendment 46.

In Committee the Minister said that my amendment was unnecessary but, to be fair to him, he ensured that discussions took place with the tenancy deposit scheme, which had raised concerns about whether having the letting agent’s name in the paperwork, rather than the landlord’s, was sufficient. Clearly, those discussions persuaded officials that the change was necessary. I congratulate the Minister and the draftsmen on producing Amendment 45 in time for Report. For obvious reasons, we heartily support this and I will not move Amendment 46 when called.

Amendment 45 agreed.

Amendment 45A

Moved by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

45A: After Clause 29, insert the following new Clause—

“Tenancy deposits: non-compliance with requirements

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(1) Chapter 4 of Part 6 of the Housing Act 2004 (Tenancy Deposit Schemes) is amended as follows.

(2) In section 214 (proceedings relating to tenancy deposits), in subsection (1) after “shorthold tenancy” insert “on or after 6 April 2007”.

(3) In section 215 (sanctions for non-compliance)—

(a) for subsection (1) substitute—

“(1) Subject to subsection (2A), if (whether before, on or after 6 April 2007) a tenancy deposit has been paid in connection with a shorthold tenancy, no section 21 notice may be given in relation to the tenancy at a time when the deposit is not being held in accordance with an authorised scheme.

(1A) Subject to subsection (2A), if a tenancy deposit has been paid in connection with a shorthold tenancy on or after 6 April 2007, no section 21 notice may be given in relation to the tenancy at a time when section 213(3) has not been complied with in relation to the deposit.”;

(b) in subsection (2A), after “Subsections (1)” insert “, (1A)”.”

Amendment 45A agreed.

Clause 30: Tenancy deposits

Amendment 46 not moved.

6.30 pm

Amendment 46A

Moved by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

46A: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Preventing retaliatory eviction

(1) Where a relevant notice is served in relation to a dwelling-house in England, a section 21 notice may not be given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of the dwelling-house—

(a) within six months beginning with the day of service of the relevant notice, or

(b) where the operation of the relevant notice has been suspended, within six months beginning with the day on which the suspension ends.

(2) A section 21 notice given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England is invalid where—

(a) before the section 21 notice was given, the tenant made a complaint in writing to the landlord regarding the condition of the dwelling-house at the time of the complaint,

(b) the landlord—

(i) did not provide a response to the complaint within 14 days beginning with the day on which the complaint was given,

(ii) provided a response to the complaint that was not an adequate response, or

(iii) gave a section 21 notice in relation to the dwelling-house following the complaint,

(c) the tenant then made a complaint to the relevant local housing authority about the same, or substantially the same, subject matter as the complaint to the landlord,

(d) the relevant local housing authority served a relevant notice in relation to the dwelling-house in response to the complaint, and

(e) if the section 21 notice was not given before the tenant’s complaint to the local housing authority, it was given before the service of the relevant notice.

(3) The reference in subsection (2) to an adequate response by the landlord is to a response in writing which—

(a) provides a description of the action that the landlord proposes to take to address the complaint, and

(b) sets out a reasonable timescale within which that action will be taken.

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(4) Subsection (2) applies despite the requirement in paragraph (a) for a complaint to be in writing not having been met where the tenant does not know the landlord’s postal or e-mail address.

(5) Subsection (2) applies despite the requirements in paragraphs (a) and (b) not having been met where the tenant made reasonable efforts to contact the landlord to complain about the condition of the dwelling-house but was unable to do so.

(6) The court must strike out proceedings for an order for possession under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 in relation to a dwelling-house in England if, before the order is made, the section 21 notice that would otherwise require the court to make an order for possession in relation to the dwelling-house has become invalid under subsection (2).

(7) An order for possession of a dwelling-house in England made under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 must not be set aside on the ground that a relevant notice was served in relation to the dwelling-house after the order for possession was made.

(8) Subsection (1) does not apply where the section 21 notice is given after—

(a) the relevant notice has been wholly revoked under section 16 of the Housing Act 2004 as a result of the notice having been served in error,

(b) the relevant notice has been quashed under paragraph 15 of Schedule 1 to that Act,

(c) a decision of the relevant local housing authority to refuse to revoke the relevant notice has been reversed under paragraph 18 of Schedule 1 to that Act, or

(d) a decision of the relevant local housing authority to take the action to which the relevant notice relates has been reversed under section 45 of that Act.

(9) Subsection (2) does not apply where the operation of the relevant notice has been suspended.

(10) References in this section and section (Further exemptions to section (Preventing retaliatory eviction)) to a relevant notice served, or complaint made, in relation to a dwelling-house include a relevant notice served, or complaint made, in relation to any common parts of the building of which the dwelling-house forms a part.

(11) But subsection (10) applies only if—

(a) the landlord has a controlling interest in the common parts in question, and

(b) the condition of those common parts is such as to affect the tenant’s enjoyment of the dwelling-house or of any common parts which the tenant is entitled to use.

(12) In this section and section (Further exemptions to section (Preventing retaliatory eviction)) a reference to a complaint to a landlord includes a complaint made to a person acting on behalf of the landlord in relation to the tenancy.

(13) In this section and section (Further exemptions to section (Preventing retaliatory eviction))—

“assured shorthold tenancy” means a tenancy within section 19A or 20 of the Housing Act 1988;

“common parts”, in relation to a building, includes—

(a) the structure and exterior of the building, and

(b) common facilities provided (whether or not in the building) for persons who include one or more of the occupiers of the building;

“controlling interest” means an interest which is such as to entitle the landlord to decide whether action is taken in relation to a complaint within this section or a relevant notice.

“dwelling-house” has the meaning given by section 45 of the Housing Act 1988;

“relevant local housing authority”, in relation to a dwelling-house, means the local housing authority as defined in section 261(2) and (3) of the Housing Act 2004 within whose area the dwelling-house is located;

“relevant notice” means—

(a) a notice served under section 11 of the Housing Act 2004 (improvement notices relating to category 1 hazards),

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(b) a notice served under section 12 of that Act (improvement notices relating to category 2 hazards), or

(c) a notice served under section 40(7) of that Act (emergency remedial action);

“section 21 notice” means a notice given under section 21(1)(b) or (4)(a) of the Housing Act 1988 (recovery of possession on termination of shorthold tenancy).”

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, it is always a pleasure to act on behalf of my noble friend Lord Wallace of Saltaire, in whose name this amendment stands. I may be doing a bad impersonation of him but it is always a pleasure to respond in his name.

A number of amendments relating to retaliatory evictions have been grouped together. For clarity, I will address government Amendments 46A to 46J before moving on to Amendment 52 and, finally, Amendments 46AA, 46AB, 46BA and 46HA.

The private rented sector is an important and growing part of our housing market. It has overtaken the social rented sector in terms of size and is now the second largest tenure with 1.9 million properties housing 4 million households throughout England.

The quality of privately rented housing has improved rapidly over the past decade. The Government are committed to promoting a strong, thriving professional private rented sector where good landlords can prosper and hard-working tenants can enjoy decent standards and receive a service which represents value for money for their rent. However, the behaviour of a small number of rogue landlords has a detrimental impact on tenants. Also, some tenants do not act responsibly, and it can be difficult and time-consuming to evict such tenants where it would be legitimate to do so—for example, because of mistakes made when serving a Section 21 eviction notice.

This amendment to the Bill is designed to be a balanced package of measures that will benefit both tenants and landlords. It covers four areas, which I shall go through briefly. First, it will protect tenants against the practice of retaliatory eviction where they have raised a legitimate complaint about the condition of a property and a local authority has issued a notice confirming that the repair needs to be carried out to avoid a risk to health and safety.

Secondly, the amendment will ensure that tenants are always given at least two months’ notice before they have to move out of their home. This will be done by providing that a Section 21 notice may not be given in the first four months of the tenancy and by introducing an expiry date after which a Section 21 notice ceases to be valid if possession proceedings have not been brought. The purpose of this measure is to deal with an approach adopted by, I stress, a small minority of landlords and letting agents in which they serve an eviction notice at the start of a tenancy. This disreputable practice can result in a tenant having to vacate a property with virtually no notice.

Thirdly, the amendment will make the eviction process more straightforward for landlords where the tenant can legitimately be evicted. It does so through the introduction of a prescribed notice to reduce errors and by removing the need for the date specified in a notice served under Section 21(4)—which relates to the

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notice to be given in relation to a periodic assured shorthold tenancy—to be the last day of a period of the tenancy, while retaining the requirement to give two months’ notice. We estimate that this measure alone will deliver savings to landlords of about £3 million a year.

The fourth element is to provide that, where a landlord has failed to comply with certain legal obligations, the tenant cannot be evicted using the Section 21 procedure. We envisage that this will apply to existing legal obligations such as the requirement to provide a new tenant with an energy performance certificate and to obtain an annual gas safety certificate. This restriction on the service of an eviction notice would be lifted as soon as these documents were provided.

While some of these changes will involve small one-off costs to landlords, primarily due to the need to familiarise themselves with the legislation, we estimate that this provision will deliver savings to landlords of, as I said, about £3 million per year.

The first part of the amendment introduces much needed protection for tenants against a very small minority of unscrupulous and rogue landlords who knowingly rent out unsafe and overcrowded accommodation and then evict any tenant who makes a complaint about the condition of the property—as I have said, a practice known commonly as retaliatory eviction. The amendment provides that a tenant cannot be evicted for a period of six months where they have requested that a repair is carried out to their home and the local authority confirms that the repair is necessary to prevent a possible risk to the tenant’s health and safety. The landlord will also be required to ensure that the repairs are completed.

As noble Lords will know, this amendment originally started out as a Private Member’s Bill in the other place. The amendment is very similar but there are some differences, which I wish to highlight. One is that we have decided to remove hazard awareness notices from the list of documents that can confirm a health and safety risk. The other notices are an improvement notice and a notice of emergency remedial action. A hazard awareness notice is a document that alerts the building occupier to a potential minor hazard—for example, a cracked window or uneven steps on a staircase.

We took the decision to remove hazard awareness notices from the list as they are normally issued only where there is a relatively small risk to the tenant’s health and safety—for example, in the case of uneven steps on a staircase. It does not require the landlord to actually do anything to rectify the problem. Local authorities will not be prevented from issuing hazard awareness notices. However, doing so would not give a tenant the protection against eviction that they would get if an improvement notice or a notice of emergency remedial action were issued. Local authorities would be aware of that and could be expected to take that fact into account when deciding what action to take following an inspection.

The local authority will also have a crucial role to play more generally. The protection against eviction which this amendment introduces will apply only if the local authority has confirmed that there is a potential health and safety risk. In addition, the tenant must have requested a repair before the serving of a Section 21

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eviction notice. The amendment will not cover situations where a landlord serves an eviction notice and the tenant subsequently requests a repair. In addition, the amendment will not apply where a local authority determines that the issue being complained about has arisen because the tenant has breached their duty to use the property in a tenant-like manner. These measures will help to ensure that unfounded complaints are kept to an absolute minimum.

However, we want to ensure that landlords, and indeed tenants, are not left waiting for months and months for a local authority to inspect a property, which I know to be a concern. Therefore, the amendment provides that, by the time that the possession case comes to court, a local authority will need to have carried out an inspection or, where it has carried out an inspection, will need to have decided whether there is a defect that poses a risk to the tenant’s health and safety. If the local authority fails to do so, a tenant will not have a defence to the proceedings on the grounds of retaliatory eviction.

This should not be an onerous burden on local authorities. A tenant must be given at least two months’ notice of eviction under the Housing Act 1988. Typically, it would take a further two months for a possession case to go to court. So, on average, a local authority will have four months to carry out an inspection and decide whether the complaint by the tenant is legitimate. This should be ample time.

Retaliatory eviction is wrong and its continued practice is unacceptable. No tenant should face eviction because they have made a legitimate complaint to the landlord about the condition of their home. These are important amendments which introduce protection for tenants against rogue landlords, but they also contain provisions which we believe will benefit landlords and make it more straightforward to evict tenants in legitimate circumstances.

I move on to other amendments in this group. Amendment 52 is very similar in parts to the Government’s Amendments 46A to 46J. The amendment would protect tenants against the practice of retaliatory eviction where they had raised a legitimate complaint about the condition of a property and a local authority had issued a notice confirming that the repair needed to be carried out to avoid a risk to health and safety. The amendment would introduce protection for tenants against a small minority of unscrupulous and rogue landlords who knowingly rent out unsafe and overcrowded accommodation and then evict any tenant who makes a complaint about the condition of the property.

The amendment provides that a tenant cannot be evicted for a period of six months where they have requested a repair to be carried out on their home and the local authority confirms that the repair is necessary to prevent a possible risk to the tenant’s health and safety. Amendments 46A to 46J are designed to tackle exactly this problem, and in fact they go much further by introducing changes in several related areas. First, they ensure that tenants are always given at least two months’ notice before they have to move out of their home. A small minority of landlords and letting agents have adopted the practice of serving the eviction notice at the start of a tenancy—a point that I made earlier.

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This disreputable practice can result in the tenant having to vacate a property without notice.

Secondly, as I have already said, the eviction notice makes the process more straightforward for landlords in situations where the tenant can be legitimately evicted. It does so through the introduction of a prescribed notice to reduce errors and by removing the need for the date specified in a notice served under Section 21(4) to be the last day of a period of the tenancy, while retaining the requirement to give two months’ notice. The Government are keen to ensure that we take forward a balanced package of amendments that will help both landlords and tenants.

Thirdly, the amendments provide that where a landlord has failed to comply with certain legal obligations, a tenant cannot be evicted using the Section 21 procedure. We envisage that this will apply to existing legal obligations, as I have already mentioned, in relation to energy performance certificates and the annual gas safety certificate. The government amendment provides protection for tenants against retaliatory eviction. It also, as I have explained, delivers a range of other benefits for landlords.

Amendment 46AA would require tenants to wait for up to 28 days before they could expect their landlord to simply respond to a request by the tenant for repairs to be carried out to the property. At that stage the landlord would be required only to inform the tenant what, if anything, he proposed to do in response to the request. The Government have set a time limit of 14 days for the landlord to respond. In our view this strikes a fair balance between ensuring that landlords are given a reasonable time to respond to a complaint while not expecting tenants to put up with the disrepair in their property for an unreasonably long time. Renting out property is a business transaction and tenants, like any other consumer, have a right to expect their landlord to respond promptly to a request for repairs. In our view, 14 days is a reasonable period in which to require a response. Indeed, in many cases, a much earlier response could and should be expected—for example, if there is a leak in the property or a problem with the heating during the winter months.

There may be situations where a landlord is genuinely unable to respond within that timescale, but even if that is the case, that does not mean that the landlord would automatically be prevented from evicting the tenant for a period of six months. The local authority would still have to inspect the property and determine whether there was a potentially serious health and safety risk. However, it would be open to the landlord at any stage, before the inspection is carried out, to contact their tenant, assess what work needs to be done and arrange for it to be completed. If that has happened by the time of the inspection, and as a result there is no longer a potential risk to the health and safety of the tenant, the local authority will no longer have any role to play. In that scenario, the proposed restrictions on the service of a Section 21 eviction notice would not apply.

Amendment 46AB has the potential to reduce the length of time during which a tenant would be protected against retaliatory eviction. The Government propose that a tenant should be protected against eviction for a

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period of six months starting from the date that the local authority has determined that a property contains significant health and safety hazards, and has issued either an improvement notice or a notice of emergency remedial action. However, this amendment would reduce that time. Local authorities have a lot of competing demands on their time and it is very unlikely that they could inspect a property instantly, as soon as they have received a complaint from a tenant. If, for example, a local authority did not inspect a property until two months after it had received a complaint, even if a serious health and safety hazard was discovered, a tenant would then be protected against eviction only for a period of four months. That reduction would significantly weaken the protection that the Government have decided tenants must be given against the actions of the very few rogue landlords.

On Amendment 46BA, we are absolutely clear that tenants should pay their rent on the date that it is due. The Government’s proposals do not in any way undermine this central principle. When a tenant has fallen behind with their rent, landlords can use the procedures under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 to evict the tenant. Those procedures will remain unchanged and will not be affected in any way by the proposed restrictions on the use of a Section 21 order of the 1988 Act. We do not believe that a tenant should be denied protection from a retaliatory eviction when there are already adequate provisions in existing legislation for dealing with non-payment of rent.

Finally Amendment 46HA would apply to a situation when a tenant is entitled to repayment of any rent they have paid in advance for a period when they no longer occupy the property because the landlord has served a Section 21 eviction notice. It provides that the amount of rent repaid will be offset by an amount equal to any money that may be owed by the tenant to the landlord. The amendment is unnecessary, as there is nothing in the Government’s proposed legislation that would prevent a landlord offsetting any debts owed to them by the tenant against rent that they are liable to repay to the tenant. Therefore, I commend Amendments 46A to 46J and hope that, in the clarifications and assurances, noble Lords who have tabled Amendments 52, 46AA, 46AB, 46BA and 46HA will be minded not to press them.

Amendment 46AA (to Amendment 46)

Moved by Lord Howard of Rising

46AA: After Clause 30, line 17, leave out “14” and insert “28”

6.45 pm

Lord Howard of Rising (Con): In moving the amendment I will also speak to Amendments 46AB, 46BA and 46HA. These are all amendments to the amendments proposed by my noble friend the Minister. Before so doing, I must declare an interest as an owner of rented-out residential properties.

Amendment 46AA would allow for a landlord to be away when a letter of complaint arrives. He or she may be absent for whatever reason—business, holiday, et cetera. In spite of what my noble friend said, I

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believe that it would be sensible to allow for this possibility when imposing a time limit. There may also be a need to seek professional advice to be able to give an adequate response to a complainant, so the time period should be adequate to allow for those items.

Under Amendment 46AB, the situation would be avoided when a tenant makes a written complaint and the local authority does not react promptly, say for four months, and the authority then issues a relevant notice, and when that relevant notice is issued a new six-month period begins. In effect, the ability to issue a Section 21 notice will have been blocked for 10 months—four months starting with the tenant’s written complaint, which was not acted on by the authority, followed by the six months starting with the issue by the local authority of a relevant notice. I do not believe that that was what was intended. I may have misunderstood it but perhaps my noble friend can make that clear.

That point becomes particularly relevant when I come to Amendment 46BA. It allows a Section 21 notice to be served if a tenant is in arrears of rent for two or more consecutive payment dates, even if the tenant has made a written complaint. My noble friend referred to Section 8 of the Housing Act but I understand that the only method of controlling the situation would be the issue of a Section 21 notice. Any tenant not wishing to pay his rent only has to put a complaint in writing to the landlord, and the tenant has security of tenure without paying any rent for the next six months—or if the local authority delays in its actions, an even longer period. This creates a situation that is open to abuse, and although most tenants would not dream of doing so, there will be occasions when such action is taken deliberately. It could be argued that my amendment is too lenient because, in effect, sanctions against non-payment of rent are taken away the moment a complaint is issued.

Amendment 46HA allows any money owing to a landlord to be deducted when returning rent to a tenant. Frequently a deposit is taken to cover damage by tenants over and above normal wear and tear. These deposits are regulated and held by a third party. It is only fair that where there is a reasonable claim for dilapidation, that is deducted from any rent due to be repaid to a tenant.

Finally, I would be grateful if my noble friend will say what is to happen when a landlord does not have the resources to make necessary repairs or improvements quite reasonably asked for by the tenant. In this context my noble friend might like to consider that where I live and rent out properties a full repair costs on average 16 times the annual rent, and a minor refurbishment five years’ rent, and that does not allow for any tax. That makes it difficult for many people to finance repairs. I am not trying to say that they should not make repairs but the Minister should consider what happens when people cannot pay.

Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville (LD): My Lords, I support Amendment 46A, as well as Amendments 46B, 46C to 46H and Amendment 46J in the group. In supporting this amendment, I pay tribute to my colleague, Sarah Teather MP. On 28 November, she secured a Private Member’s Bill, the Tenancies (Reform) Bill, to deal with the problems caused by

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retaliatory evictions. Sadly, some Members in the other place that day were landlords and did not share the ethos of the Bill, and they talked it out. It is a great privilege for me to support the essence of the Bill in this amendment and to help to protect vulnerable tenants.

This amendment is not about penalising conscientious landlords; nor is it about protecting bad tenants who do not respect the property that they are renting. It is about protecting the rights of both groups and giving security to tenants who, when reporting a fault which affects their ability to live happily in their home, will not dread an eviction notice landing on the doormat as a result. It will give a clear signal to those landlords who currently ignore the state of their properties that this is no longer acceptable and that, if they engage in a regular programme of maintenance, they are likely to have a much better relationship with their tenants. Costly tenancy turnover will be lower and they will be less likely to face expensive repair bills for major incidents, such as collapsed ceilings due to persistent leaks, later.

I am sure that we can all give examples of where tenants have lived with poorly maintained and damp properties but have been too afraid to report this to the landlord. They may have seen other tenants who complained suffer eviction. Such evictions put pressure on local authorities, housing associations and others in the rented sector, and cause expensive, temporary accommodation solutions. These are a potential burden on the council tax payer and bring misery and uncertainty to families and children.

I am grateful to Citizens Advice and Shelter for their tireless efforts to bring the plight of those who are suffering from the injustice of retaliatory evictions to the notice of a wider audience. These and similar organisations have done all that they can to alleviate the suffering and uncertainty of those affected in our communities. It is often those on the lowest incomes and with the least options who are the most penalised in the housing market. They frequently have no choice but to turn to the private sector for accommodation.

It is long overdue that we seek to protect this section of our community and to give them some security, as well as decent homes to live in and in which to bring up their children. At the same time, we must protect those landlords who are assiduous in maintaining their properties. Without these landlords there would be an extreme shortage of properties to let around our cities and countryside. This amendment is all about establishing and maintaining a balance between the tenant and the landlord, and I am pleased to support it.

Baroness Noakes (Con): My Lords, I support the amendment to the amendment, moved by my noble friend Lord Howard. In principle, preventing retaliatory evictions is a very good idea for all the reasons that have been given by my noble friend and the noble Baroness. I want to focus on two aspects, one of which my noble friend raised in one of his amendments; that is, the 14-day limit provided for under subsection (2)(b)(i) of the new clause proposed under Amendment 46A. I query with my noble friend the Minister whether 14 days is a reasonable timeframe. I declare an extremely modest interest as a landlord of one property.

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I just cast my mind to what might happen. I often go on holiday for more than 14 days. If, God forbid, one were ever in a dispute with a tenant—I have no current expectation that I would be in that position—it would be quite easy for a tenant seeking to make use of these provisions generally to cause trouble and to take advantage of one’s being out of the country and not being available for 14 days. As my noble friend’s amendment suggests, 28 days seems more reasonable on that basis.

The second thing I want to raise with the Minister is what would be an “adequate response”, as provided by subsection (2)(b)(ii) in the amendment, which is defined in subsection (3). I ask my noble friend the Minister: how will the adequacy of the response be judged? What is a “reasonable timescale” and who will judge what that is? I could not see in the amendments how any disputes about this process were capable of being dealt with. There needs to be certainty about how the processes will work. It is not entirely clear to me that a response can be quickly identified as being adequate or not, given the wording in subsection (3) of the amendment.

Lord Best (CB): My Lords, I support this group of government amendments. I declare my interests as on the register, in particular as chair of the council of the Property Ombudsman, which handles complaints about property agents—traditionally about estate agents but today more about letting and managing agents in the private sector. I am grateful to Shelter and the British Property Federation for helpful briefings.

I want to address the concerns raised by some representatives of private landlords that this effort to end retaliatory evictions in private rented housing could become a charter for mischievous tenants to prolong their tenancies when they know that the landlord wants them to leave. I want to answer the question: could tenants raise spurious complaints about their property unnecessarily, unfairly or even maliciously, in order to frustrate their landlord and to secure an extra six months or so of occupation? If that was the outcome from that measure, it is argued that it would deter investment, put off potential buy-to-let landlords and slow the growth of this sector.

The private rented sector has more than doubled in size over recent years and we now have some 1.5 million private landlords. Properties that in times past would have been sold to home buyers have instead been snapped up by buy-to-let landlords. Some observers would welcome a slow-down in this shift from owner-occupation to private renting. However, outlawing retaliatory evictions seems very unlikely to put a break on this phenomenal growth. Only the minority of really hopeless—or actually criminal—landlords will be affected.

These measures will bite only where the landlord has not only ignored a request from the tenant for rectification of a serious problem but has also ignored the local authority when it has spelt out that the landlord is in breach of their legal duties. Local authorities will have to visit the property and be satisfied that there is a serious breach of the requirements and that the property is not safe and not free from grave health hazards. The council will then have to issue a formal improvement notice, not a simple hazard awareness

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notice. That is not an action that is taken lightly by local authorities and they will do so only if the landlord has failed to do anything to rectify the problem. Only after the whole process has been concluded and the landlord has done nothing will the tenant gain an extension to the tenancy. These are pretty extreme circumstances and it would take a truly obdurate or completely incompetent landlord to fail to do what is required by the council.

Nor can the Bill be used as a last-minute delay to hold up an eviction. If the tenant is challenging an eviction notice, they will have to prove that they made the complaint about conditions before the eviction notice was issued. The tenant will lose the ability to challenge the eviction notice if they do not do so within the two-month notice period, and the Bill specifically prohibits renters from raising any issues that are their own responsibility. Environmental health officers are well trained in assessing whether a defect has been exaggerated or manufactured by the tenant. Prior to serving formal notice, the landlord will be given time to address the problem, and proper law-abiding landlords will act before matters reach the stage of the local authority serving the improvement notice which would delay the eviction.

This measure can catch out the shameless landlord of a slum property seeking to remove a tenant who complains in order to find someone else who is prepared to tolerate extremely poor conditions, but it does not provide any help to the tenant who tries to use this as an opportunity to fend off a perfectly valid eviction notice. I think that it is a modest change in the law and there should be no anxieties that unscrupulous tenants can use it to make mischief. There may be some tweaks to be made to the small print which would improve the amendment, and I would not stand in the way of modest changes, but the core components of the measure represent a positive step forward. In combination with the other important new requirements in this set of amendments to enforce proper standards, this measure will support the process of driving out criminal landlords.

Regrettably, among the hundreds of thousands of new landlords in recent years, there are indeed some who lack not only competence but the financial resources to keep their properties in a decent condition, let alone to engage professional agents to manage the lettings for them. Frankly, these landlords are not up to the job, and if this measure flushes out even a handful of them, it will have been worth while. For the great majority of proper landlords these changes are good news because they target unfair competitors who undermine the reputation and the public’s perception of this very necessary sector. I strongly support this group of government amendments.

7 pm

Earl Cathcart (Con): My Lords, I should declare that I am a landlord in the private rented sector, which is larger than the social rented sector and is still growing. I am firmly against any landlords who engage in retaliatory evictions. I have never had to resort to issuing or have even come close to issuing a Section 21 notice, so this is all slightly unfamiliar territory to me.

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But it seems that what we are dealing with in this group of amendments is the bottom of the barrel as far as landlords are concerned and, indeed, the bottom of the barrel as far as some tenants are concerned.

There are two improvements in these government amendments over the others which have been tabled and over the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, to the Consumer Rights Bill. The first is that the tenant must make a complaint to the landlord in writing and give the landlord time to rectify the problem before involving the local authority. It seems obvious, but it was not in the other amendment, so it is welcome. The second improvement is that regulations will require landlords to provide tenants with the details of their rights and responsibilities, which is also welcome.

I would now like to talk to the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Howard. I agree that 14 days is not long enough for the landlord to respond. If the Minister is unable to accept the period of 28 days suggested by my noble friend, perhaps 21 days would be a happy compromise. My noble friend’s Amendment 46BA addresses the case where a tenant has failed to pay rent for two or more consecutive due dates. Let us suppose that a tenant does not pay the January rent, but says to the landlord that he will deal with it. The February due date for rent then comes along, and he does not pay that either. On the morning when the February rent is due, the tenant writes a letter to the landlord with some sort of excuse and saying that something needs to be repaired. In the afternoon of the same day he writes to the local authority saying, “I have written to the landlord. He has done absolutely nothing about it, so can you come and serve your notice on him?”. If the local authority does that, the landlord has missed out on the January and February rent and will then miss the next six months as well. That cannot be right.

The bad tenant, the one at the bottom of the barrel, may not have actually sent the letter to the landlord even though he has a copy in his file. The poor landlord, who may not live close by because he is in another county, does not know that any of this is going on, yet the tenant has not paid the rent and will not be paying the rent for eight months. My point is this. Should there not be a duty in the Bill on the local authority to contact and/or write to the landlord saying that the tenant has made a complaint and asking what the landlord intends to do about it? As I have made clear in my example, this may be the first occasion that the landlord becomes aware that there is a problem.

I shall move on to the government amendments. There is a significant omission because the Bill makes no provision for what happens where a landlord responds adequately to a complaint from a tenant within the time allowed. The Bill does not provide for any kind of moratorium to prevent the local authority taking action. The local authority can still serve a statutory notice on the landlord even though he is dealing with the complaint in a responsible manner. This has two consequences for the landlord. The first is that this is potentially serious for a landlord who does not serve a Section 21 notice at the time and who has no intention of retaliating.

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However, if the landlord is served with a notice by the local authority, he is then automatically precluded from relying on Section 21 for six months. Even if the landlord does not serve a Section 21 notice following a complaint, should he have cause to do so within the next six months following the service of the local authority’s notice, he would not be able to serve it even though a perfectly good but unconnected reason for eviction may subsequently have arisen. It may be because the tenant has gone into rent arrears or has otherwise broken the terms of the tenancy, perhaps through anti-social behaviour.

The second problem arises because a notice served under Section 21 after the written complaint is invalidated. Again, no distinction is made between the bad landlord who is acting in retaliation and the responsible landlord who has a good reason unconnected to the complaint made by the tenant to evict him. The landlord may wish to obtain possession under Section 21 for good reasons and not in retaliation for the complaint. For example, the landlord may have received complaints about serious anti-social behaviour or there may be significant rent arrears. The local authority may want the landlord to evict the tenant because of the anti-social behaviour, but the amendment would mean that the authority could not do anything about it. The solution is to add a provision to the Bill stating that as long as the landlord replies in time and in an adequate way, the local authority should be precluded from serving a statutory notice unless the landlord fails to carry out the work on time. Likewise, in a case where the landlord has responded in time, has addressed the complaint and ensured that the work has been satisfactorily completed, the moratorium on serving a Section 21 notice should be lifted.

I have another point here. Can the Minister clarify what happens if by the time the local authority inspects the property, the original complaint has been dealt with satisfactorily but, on inspection, the local authority finds some other, second problem or complaint meriting the service of a relevant notice? Would the local authority be said to be acting “in response to the complaint”? It could be said that the complaint occasioned a visit which gave rise to the issue of the relevant notice even though it was for good reason. Clarity on this point is requested. It would seem to me that if the original complaint had been satisfactorily dealt with, but a second problem had been found, then a further 14 days should be available for the landlord to provide an adequate response within a reasonable timescale to this second problem, so that the local authority should not issue a statutory notice.

I may have raised one or two issues that the Minister is not able to respond to today. If so, perhaps he could do so in writing.

Lord Stoneham of Droxford: My Lords, I was not going to speak in this debate, because I think there is a need for us to move on, but in the light of a couple of speeches on this side of the House, the Minister needs to make it absolutely clear that there is no intention in these amendments to interfere with landlords’ rights in the situation of arrears. Most disrepair issues are sorted out between the tenant and the landlord, but where the relationship has broken down, and tenants

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need to get legal advice or local authority action, it is not surprising that some landlords may seek to regain possession.

There is an abuse of power here that we need to correct. These amendments are about getting that balance right. That is the purpose of the legislation and I give due credit to Sarah Teather and indeed the Department for Communities and Local Government, for actually allowing us to put these amendments through and for putting down an amendment that tries to make an acceptable reform in this area. The vast majority of landlords will not be affected by these amendments. They already ensure that they comply with the required health and safety standards and they will retain the freedom to issue Section 21 notices. However, the amendments will inhibit rogue landlords flouting their legal responsibilities. That is why this reform is needed.

The Earl of Caithness (Con): My Lords, I declare my interests. I was an estate agent and am a consultant to an estate agency. I also piloted the 1988 Act through the House. The Act was introduced by my late noble friend Lord Ridley of Liddesdale when he was Nick Ridley and Secretary of State, and I am delighted that it has been so successful. It was controversial and was criticised quite heavily at the time, but it has achieved what it set out to do, which was to improve the private sector rented market and to give more people a choice of tenancies.

I have two concerns of principle with these amendments. One is the timing. This is Report stage, and this is a technical issue. I understand very well that the Liberal Party has put a great deal of emotion and faith into these amendments, and I do not blame them at all: technical points have been raised which need to be discussed. However, we can speak only once, and there is no way that this amendment is going to be discussed in any detail in another place. We are the only Chamber of Parliament that can actually get into this, but we are now limited to Report and Third Reading. The noble Lord, Lord Best, whose opinion we all respect, said that there could be some tweaks, but he did not tell us what the tweaks were. Those are the sorts of things that we ought to be looking at but which, under the procedure, we cannot. I mildly chastise my noble friends on the Liberal Benches for not introducing this in Committee. I understand why they did not: because there was a Private Member’s Bill in another place. But that did not stop them, and we could have had a much better discussion than we are having now. I would have hoped that my noble friend on the Front Bench might have taken this back into Committee, particularly for this purpose.

7.15 pm

My second general concern is about the whole issue of the housing market. As many other noble Lords have said, this is a very fine balance. Section 21 is one of the key pendulums in the whole of the housing market legislation and has to be in the centre to get the balance right between landlords and tenants. My noble friend Lord Cathcart was absolutely right: we are dealing with, in this instance, the rogue landlords—who we all dislike and who we all want to get out of owning

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property—but we are also dealing with, possibly, the worst type of tenant, who wants to be obstructive and has the ability to be obstructive.

When you make laws for those sorts of people, it is very hard to get the balance absolutely right, because the effect percolates up through all the good people. What you do to the very bad affects the good. There is a perception that the Government are moving away from the fine balance that has been achieved and are moving more in the direction of the tenant than of the landlord. As a result, I have received inquiries as to whether this is going to be a trend and whether people should continue to own property to let. I do not think that these amendments will have that effect, but it is a perception, and perception in housing is important. It is hard to define and calculate, but it is there. One therefore needs to be extra careful in dealing with these amendments to make certain that this does not move the pendulum in a way that none of us wants.

I have a couple of questions for my noble friend. When one talks about the relevant notice to the landlord, one presumes that that notice will be received by registered post. Let us look at this 14 days, because I think that my noble friend Lord Howard has a point here. Let us say that it is sent by registered post on 20 December. The landlord in this instance could be just an individual without back-up—not necessarily the bad landlord that the noble Lord, Lord Best, mentioned, but an honest upright citizen who has gone away over the Christmas and new year period and does not get the registered document within the 14 days. However, the tenant can prove that it was sent, and this amendment would kick in. I ask my noble friend to have a look at this, because there is merit in the argument, although I agree that we do not want to make it too long. I was rather impressed that he answered the amendment before it was actually moved and spoken to, because in this instance it helps us. However, I hope that he will be able to look at that particular point again.

Another point which needs looking at is that sometimes landlords and tenants agree to suspend a notice because the tenant says that he is going to move. I know that this is not frequent, and I have never encountered it, but it has been reported to me. An unscrupulous tenant may say, “Do not bother to serve the notice, I am going to go anyway and you can do the repairs when there is vacant possession. I do not want all the hassle”. Then, when the landlord does not put the notice in and the tenant changes his mind and sits there—there could be tenants as difficult as that—that puts the landlord in a worse position than he is now. This is relevant to Amendment 46A.

I will also raise a point on Amendment 46D, which I think was the second point that my noble friend the Minister raised, about the length of notice for the Section 21 notices. You have to give two months’ notice and now you cannot serve a notice within the first four months. There is a problem for a six-month tenancy. It is purely a practical problem. If I had a property—which I do not—and I let it to my noble friend for six months, I could not serve the notice on him for the first four months. I would then have two months’ notice to give him but it is a six-month tenancy

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so that is blocked off. So at the end of the fourth month, I have that next day to serve the notice in order to get him out in a six-month period and fulfil the tenancy. I would like the Minister to comment on that, whether I am right or wrong. It is just making life a bit more difficult. It is moving the pendulum.

Yes, I agree with the principle. None of us likes rogue landlords. We do not want some of the present landlords owning the properties that they have because they are making life difficult for others. But those of us who actually support the principle of the amendment do want it to work.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: My Lords, we are very happy to support the Government’s amendment. That is hardly surprising given that, as the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, reminded the House, my noble friend Lord Stevenson of Balmacara and I tabled a very similar amendment to this—Amendment 50E to the Consumer Rights Bill—precisely to protect tenants against retaliatory eviction. Indeed, had the Government accepted it in principle at that stage, we would have had lots of time to discuss any tweaks and details. Furthermore, of course, that was the appropriate piece of legislation for it. It is exactly something that lives in a Consumer Rights Bill. It is quite hard to think why it should be in the Deregulation Bill but anyway it is here and we welcome the fact of it, and it is clearly the way the Government prefer it.

It is good to see the change of heart because when we moved that amendment in November, the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, who was dealing with it, said that the Government did not think it was necessary because it would not,

“add anything further to the guidance that is already available”.—[

Official Report

, 24/11/14; col. 761.]

To be fair, she supported the Private Member’s Bill in the other place and the Government have now decided to introduce this legislation, albeit perhaps not in the best vehicle, given that the Consumer Rights Bill is still in Parliament.

It is a shame that the Liberal Democrats who have added their names to the amendment did not share our concerns earlier. The noble Baroness spoke in favour of one of my other amendments, but it would have been nice to have their support when we tried to make letting agents belong to an ombudsman scheme. We got it through but without their help; nor did they support my attempts to get letting agents to put tenants’ rent into protected bank accounts, which would have safeguarded landlords as much as—if not more than—tenants, because when letting agents go walkies with the money it is usually the landlords who pay, but of course it is the tenants’ money that goes. But hey, I guess there is an election coming so now they are on the side of the tenants, and we welcome that support, belated though it might be.

We particularly welcome the Government’s view on this and their bringing forward these amendments. We know that it will please those who have campaigned a long time for this, including Crisis and Shelter, which have been mentioned, and the Brighton and Hove “Home Sweet Home” campaign, which has been working for a better and fairer private rented sector. Its members campaign on behalf of local tenants who are often too

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scared to speak out or to ask their landlords for repairs because they fear losing their homes. In places such as Brighton, that is not a joke; it does happen. As for the idea that there are rogue tenants—actually, the experience we have is of landlords mistreating their tenants.

These amendments give much-needed protection to tenants, as landlords will no longer be able to evict them in response to a valid complaint about their home. Tenants will no longer have to choose between living in poor conditions and losing their home. Unfortunately, revenge eviction has become a major cause of insecurity, not just in Brighton but elsewhere where there is a lot of pressure on the private rented sector. We want people to feel safe and secure in their own home, creating a fairer system for both tenants and landlords. We believe that these amendments will help achieve that.

We have one slight disappointment. As the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, said, the hazard awareness notices are not included in these amendments, although they were in the Private Member’s Bill. We have some concerns that without these the protection risks being patchy. Some extra assurance on that would be welcome.

We are also pleased that, from what the Minister said in his introduction, the Government do not seem minded to accept Amendment 46AA in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Howard of Rising, which would extend the period that a tenant can wait before contacting the council from 14 to 28 days. Twenty-eight days is too long for a tenant to wait before legitimately contacting the council. None of us would wait that long if it was our home, especially if it was over Christmas. Therefore, where there is a serious problem that needs seeing to, we agree with the Minister that 14 days is the right balance.

I also pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Best, who has saved me from having to give a very robust response to those who fear that these amendments will achieve things that are too much in favour of the tenants and not of the landlords. We think that it is a fair deal between the two sides—although often, as people have said, they are not sides; it is a good relationship.

Meanwhile, given that the Government have decided—perhaps a bit late—to do something to help “generation rent”, it is a shame that it is not part of a wider strategy to ensure that tenants get a fair deal from landlords. We have undertaken to legislate for three-year tenancies, to give renters a stable home and landlords the confidence to invest. We will also stop letting agents charging fees to tenants, which we tried to do in the Consumer Rights Bill, but sadly that bit has not been brought over. However, I should not be churlish. We are delighted with the amendments that the Government have brought forward and we have pleasure in giving them our full support.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have participated in this debate. Again, it demonstrates the great expertise and interest in your Lordships’ House in this important issue. I will seek to answer all the questions that have been raised but if there are specific, technical questions, I add the caveat that I shall of course review all contributions and write accordingly to cover any points that perhaps I have not been able to cover in my response this evening.

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I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Best, for his support for the government amendments. He always speaks with great expertise on housing issues across the board, so his support is most welcome. I hope it continues for the later part of the evening but we shall come to that shortly. I also thank my noble friends Lady Bakewell and Lord Stoneham for their support for the Government’s position. In thanking other noble friends who perhaps have not been totally supportive, I of course recognise the concerns that have been expressed across a range of issues and hope that I can address most of them in my response.

My noble friend Lord Howard asked about tenants who stop paying rent once they have made a complaint. I assure my noble friend that in this regard the amendment under no circumstances permits the tenant to stop paying rent, and the tenant will be obliged to pay. It provides that a Section 21 eviction notice can be invalidated only if a tenant’s complaint is supported by confirmation from the local authority. Indeed, if a Section 21 eviction notice cannot be served for a specified period, the tenant is still contractually obliged to continue paying rent. Failure to do so, as I said in my opening remarks, would leave them liable to eviction under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.

7.30 pm

I covered dilapidation costs, albeit briefly, in my opening remarks. There is nothing in what is being proposed to prevent landlords offsetting any debts owed by tenants to the landlord against any money that the landlord owes to the tenants. That would still apply.

My noble friend Lord Howard talked also about the possibility of a 12-month delay. We do not perceive that this would be the case. If the council has carried out an inspection by the time the case comes to court, which, as I said, would be a period of up to four months, the tenant would have no defence to the Section 21 proceedings.

My noble friend Lord Howard also raised the issue of affordability. Nothing in what is being proposed in the government amendments changes this. In a normal contract between an owner of a property, a landlord and a tenant, landlords are already obliged to carry out repairs under the Housing Act 2004. The amendment does not change that provision.

My noble friend Lady Noakes asked about adequate response and who decides what is reasonable. That would ultimately be determined by the county court, if it got to that point; initially, such a determination would be made by the local authority.

My noble friend Lord Howard referred to tenants being allowed to block evictions for up to 10 months. The maximum period will be six months from the date that the local authority serves the relevant notice.

My noble friend Lord Cathcart raised several important points on which I hope I can provide some reassurance. First, I assure him and your Lordships’ House generally that this measure is not to tackle good landlords, the majority of whom, as we know, have sound practices in the way in which they deal with their tenants. The protection will apply only where a local authority has confirmed that a repair is necessary to prevent a risk to health and safety. Landlords would also have a right

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to appeal against a local authority decision to serve a relevant notice. Landlords would be able to evict tenants who should be evicted—for example, because of rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. We have not made any changes to the eviction procedure under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. The courts will be able to dismiss a claim as unfounded if, for example, they consider a tenant to be in breach of their duty to use the property in a tenant-like manner.

My noble friend Lord Cathcart asked whether landlords could not evict if the local authority had served a notice even if the tenant was in rent arrears. I assure him that the landlord can always use Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 to evict for other reasons, such as the non-payment of rent or, as I have stated, anti-social behaviour.

My noble friend asked also whether local authorities would write to a landlord to inform them that there was a problem. As I hope I made clear in my opening remarks, one of the safeguards that the Government have put forward in their amendments is that when a complaint is first made by the tenant, the tenant should write directly to the landlord. In addition, the landlord must also be given 24 hours’ notice before a local authority inspects. Local authorities would generally engage informally with the landlord to have repairs done before issuing a relevant notice.

My noble friends Lady Noakes, Lord Cathcart and Lord Caithness expressed concern about the 14-day period given to the landlord to respond. I assure my noble friends that this is the period for an initial response only. The landlord is not required to fix the problem in this time. On the issue of an adequate response, as I said earlier, it is for the county court to judge what is reasonable depending on the individual facts of the case.

My noble friend Lord Caithness asked whether the relevant notice would be received by registered post. The short answer to that is no. It would normally be sent by email or by ordinary post. Notices would be served in accordance with the Housing Act 2004. Again, what we are proposing will not be changed by the amendments that the Government have tabled.

My noble friend also asked what the position would be if a landlord and tenant agreed that the tenant would move out and the tenant then stayed. In that situation, the local authority would not be able to serve a relevant notice, so the tenant would not have a defence to a Section 21 notice.

My noble friend also asked about prohibition on serving a Section 21 notice in the first four months of a tenancy. He asked a specific question about short-term tenancies. If a landlord wanted a tenant to leave exactly six months after the start of the tenancy, they would need to serve the notice after the first four months of the tenancy had passed. That would normally be in short-term tenancy agreements.

I always listen to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, with great attention, as I do all noble Lords. Her critiques are delivered in a dulcet tone, which perhaps softens their impact, but I welcome her support for the Government’s position. She expressed disappointment over hazard awareness notices. As I said in my opening

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remarks, such notices are used only for very minor defects. The local authority can always issue an improvement notice if there is a defect and it wants to ensure that a tenant is protected against retaliatory evictions.

Several important clarifications have been rightly sought across the Chamber, particularly by several of my noble friends, and I hope that I have been able to address most if not all of them. I will reflect on the comments made by my noble friends and will write to them if there are areas which require further clarification. However, I hope that, with the assurances and clarifications that I have provided, my noble friend will be minded to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Howard of Rising: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 46AA (to Amendment 46A) withdrawn.

Amendment 46AB (to Amendment 46A) not moved.

Amendment 46A agreed.

Amendment 46B

Moved by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

46B: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Further exemptions to section (Preventing retaliatory eviction)

(1) Subsections (1) and (2) of section (Preventing retaliatory eviction) do not apply where the condition of the dwelling-house or common parts that gave rise to the service of the relevant notice is due to a breach by the tenant of—

(a) the duty to use the dwelling-house in a tenant-like manner, or

(b) an express term of the tenancy to the same effect.

(2) Subsections (1) and (2) of section (Preventing retaliatory eviction) do not apply where at the time the section 21 notice is given the dwelling-house is genuinely on the market for sale.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2), a dwelling-house is not genuinely on the market for sale if, in particular, the landlord intends to sell the landlord’s interest in the dwelling-house to—

(a) a person associated with the landlord,

(b) a business partner of the landlord,

(c) a person associated with a business partner of the landlord, or

(d) a business partner of a person associated with the landlord.

(4) In subsection (3), references to a person who is associated with another person are to be read in accordance with section 178 of the Housing Act 1996.

(5) For the purposes of subsection (3), a business partner of a person (“P”) is a person who is—

(a) a director, secretary or other officer of a company of which P is also a director, secretary or other officer,

(b) a director, secretary or other officer of a company in which P has a shareholding or other financial interest,

(c) a person who has a shareholding or other financial interest in a company of which P is a director, secretary or other officer,

(d) an employee of P,

(e) a person by whom P is employed, or

(f) a partner of a partnership of which P is also a partner.

(6) Subsections (1) and (2) of section (Preventing retaliatory eviction) do not apply where the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing.

(7) Subsections (1) and (2) of section (Preventing retaliatory eviction) do not apply where—

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(a) the dwelling-house is subject to a mortgage granted before the beginning of the tenancy,

(b) the mortgagee is entitled to exercise a power of sale conferred on the mortgagee by the mortgage or by section 101 of the Law of Property Act 1925, and

(c) at the time the section 21 notice is given the mortgagee requires possession of the dwelling-house for the purpose of disposing of it with vacant possession in exercise of that power.

(8) In subsection (7)—

(a) “mortgage” includes a charge, and

(b) “mortgagee” includes a receiver appointed by the mortgagee under the terms of the mortgage or in accordance with the Law of Property Act 1925.”

Amendment 46BA (to Amendment 46B) not moved.

Amendment 46B agreed.

Amendments 46C to 46G

Moved by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

46C: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Notice to be provided in relation to periodic assured shorthold tenancies

In section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (recovery of possession on termination of shorthold tenancy), after subsection (4) insert—

“(4ZA) In the case of a dwelling-house in England, subsection (4)(a) above has effect with the omission of the requirement for the date specified in the notice to be the last day of a period of the tenancy.””

46D: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Time limits in relation to section 21 notices and proceedings

(1) Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection (4A) insert—

“(4B) A notice under subsection (1) or (4) may not be given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England—

(a) in the case of a tenancy which is not a replacement tenancy, within the period of four months beginning with the day on which the tenancy began, and

(b) in the case of a replacement tenancy, within the period of four months beginning with the day on which the original tenancy began.

(4C) Subsection (4B) does not apply where the tenancy has arisen due to section 5(2).

(4D) Subject to subsection (4E), proceedings for an order for possession under this section in relation to a dwelling-house in England may not be begun after the end of the period of six months beginning with the date on which the notice was given under subsection (1) or (4).

(4E) Where—

(a) a notice under subsection (4) has been given in relation to a dwelling-house in England, and

(b) paragraph (b) of that subsection requires the date specified in the notice to be more than two months after the date the notice was given,

proceedings for an order for possession under this section may not be begun after the end of the period of four months beginning with the date specified in the notice.”

(3) In subsection (6), for “subsection” substitute “subsections (4B)(b) and”.”

46E: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Prescribed form of section 21 notices

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In section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, after subsection (7) insert—

“(8) The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument prescribe the form of a notice under subsection (1) or (4) given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England.

“(9) A statutory instrument containing regulations made under subsection (8) is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.””

46F: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Compliance with prescribed legal requirements

After section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 insert—

“21A Compliance with prescribed legal requirements

(1) A notice under subsection (1) or (4) of section 21 may not be given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England at a time when the landlord is in breach of a prescribed requirement.

(2) The requirements that may be prescribed are requirements imposed on landlords by any enactment and which relate to—

(a) the condition of dwelling-houses or their common parts,

(b) the health and safety of occupiers of dwelling-houses, or

(c) the energy performance of dwelling-houses.

(3) In subsection (2) “enactment” includes an enactment contained in subordinate legislation within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (2)(a) “common parts” has the same meaning as in Ground 13 in Part 2 of Schedule 2.

(5) A statutory instrument containing regulations made under this section is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.””

46G: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Requirement for landlord to provide prescribed information

After section 21A of the Housing Act 1988 insert—

“21B Requirement for landlord to provide prescribed information

(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations require information about the rights and responsibilities of a landlord and a tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy of dwelling house in England (or any related matters) to be given by a landlord under such a tenancy, or a person acting on behalf of such a landlord, to the tenant under such a tenancy.

(2) Regulations under subsection (1) may—

(a) require the information to be given in the form of a document produced by the Secretary of State or another person,

(b) provide that the document to be given is the version that has effect at the time the requirement applies, and

(c) specify cases where the requirement does not apply.

(3) A notice under subsection (1) or (4) of section 21 may not be given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling house in England at a time when the landlord is in breach of a requirement imposed by regulations under subsection (1).

(4) A statutory instrument containing regulations made under subsection (1) is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.””

Amendments 46C to 46G agreed.

Amendment 46H

Moved by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

46H: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Repayment of rent where tenancy ends before end of a period

After section 21B of the Housing Act 1988 insert—

“21C Repayment of rent where tenancy ends before end of a period

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(1) A tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England is entitled to a repayment of rent from the landlord where—

(a) as a result of the service of a notice under section 21 the tenancy is brought to an end before the end of a period of the tenancy,

(b) the tenant has paid rent in advance for that period, and

(c) the tenant was not in occupation of the dwelling-house for one or more whole days of that period.

(2) The amount of repayment to which a tenant is entitled under subsection (1) is to be calculated in accordance with the following formula—


R is the rent paid for the final period;

D is the number of whole days of the final period for which the tenant was not in occupation of the dwelling-house; and

P is the number of whole days in that period.

(3) If the repayment of rent described in subsections (1) and (2) has not been made when the court makes an order for possession under section 21, the court must order the landlord to repay the amount of rent to which the tenant is entitled.Nothing in this section affects any other right of the tenant to a repayment of rent from the landlord.””

Amendment 46HA (to Amendment 46H) not moved.

Amendment 46H agreed.

Amendment 46J

Moved by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

46J: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Application of sections (Preventing retaliatory eviction) to (Repayment of rent where tenancy ends before end of a period)

(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a provision of sections (Preventing retaliatory eviction) to (Repayment of rent where tenancy ends before end of a period) applies only to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England granted on or after the day on which the provision comes into force.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), a provision of sections (Preventing retaliatory eviction) to (Repayment of rent where tenancy ends before end of a period) does not apply to an assured shorthold tenancy that came into being under section 5(2) of the Housing Act 1988 after the commencement of that provision and on the coming to an end of an assured shorthold tenancy that was granted before the commencement of that provision.

(3) At the end of the period of three years beginning with the coming into force of a provision of sections (Preventing retaliatory eviction) to (Compliance with prescribed legal requirements) or section (Repayment of rent where tenancy ends before end of a period), that provision also applies to any assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England—

(a) which is in existence at that time, and

(b) to which that provision does not otherwise apply by virtue of subsection (1) or (2).”

Amendment 46J agreed.

Clause 31: Optional building requirements

Amendment 46K

Moved by Lord Best

46K: Clause 31, page 28, leave out lines 1 to 3

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Lord Best: My Lords, I apologise for speaking to two consecutive amendments—your Lordships will be tired of the sound of my voice. Amendment 46K endeavours to ensure that standards of accessibility in new homes—where there has been important progress in recent years—do not now go into decline. The amendment would remove from the Bill a new power for the Secretary of State to set additional conditions before a local authority can start or continue to require housebuilders to build homes to disabled-friendly lifetime homes standards. By the removal of Clause 31(4), the threat of central government dictating lower standards than councils want, and some currently require, is removed.

The amendment comes with support from many organisations, including Age UK, the Royal Mencap Society and the Town and Country Planning Association among others. I declare my interest as president of the Local Government Association, and this body is also supportive of the approach taken by this amendment. In moving the amendment, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, for arranging a helpful meeting for me, the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity and experts from within the relevant departments and outside. Following that session, my amendment is intended to enable the Minister to place on record assurances that will clear up some misunderstandings and remove some doubts and misgivings about the legislation.

While everyone knows it is imperative that the quantity of new homes be increased to address acute national shortages that are wreaking havoc for almost all households under the age of 40, we must also be mindful of the quality of these homes. The UK is currently building the smallest flats and houses of any EU country—and, of course, in comparison with the USA, Canada, Australia and so on. Much of this new housing in the UK is storing up problems for the future. So often, the accommodation has no space for a family to sit down to a meal together, and a spare room is becoming a thing of the past. More far-reaching is the problem that new homes are not designed for an ageing society or accessible to those with a mobility problem, let alone a wheelchair user. Yet by spending only a little more on each new home we build from now on and achieving the so-called lifetime homes standards, our housing stock would gradually become suitable for us all in our older age, as well as for the young parent with a baby in a pushchair—and for any of us who become temporarily or permanently disabled, from the teenager who breaks a leg to the soldier returning home with a serious injury.

Clause 31 contains the power to remove the freedom for local planning authorities to impose obligations on housebuilders to achieve standards relating to space, security, energy, sustainability and accessibility. Instead of local discretion, standards are to be set centrally. This would have the positive effect of saving time and money for building firms that operate over several areas. The arrangements will also have the advantage for consumers that the new standardised standards covering accessibility, when determined by government, would then be enforced through building regulations by building inspectors. This would prove a more reliable mechanism than just a planning requirement for making sure that the standards are actually met.

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The concern is that instead of promoting an optional higher level of accessibility which so many organisations, including Leonard Cheshire Disability and Habinteg Housing Association, as key campaigners, believe should be applied universally, the new centralised system will stop councils insisting on these lifetime homes standards. The fear is that instead of accelerating the healthy trend towards these higher standards, central government pressure will prevent councils going for the optional category 2, which would undermine those already requiring these standards. I hope the Minister will waylay those fears, which revolve around two key hurdles for planning authorities: first, to prove that there is a need for accessible homes; and secondly, to show that the extra cost of £500 to £1,400 per home does not undermine the viability of a development—that is, it will allow the housebuilder a profit of at least 20%. Moreover, when I moved this amendment in Committee, noble Lords raised the problem of local authorities being able to require the new optional higher standard only when they adopted a new or revised strategic local plan, a process which can take years.

I therefore ask for answers to the following questions. First, I know that the DCLG intends to provide guidance on good practice to local authorities, but can the Minister confirm that this is intended to raise the aspiration for all new homes to be built to accessible standards in the years ahead?

Secondly, and more narrowly, will the new test of need for accessible housing in each area be satisfied by the statistics which, throughout the UK, demonstrate that the ageing population is a universal fact and disability is ubiquitous? Bearing in mind that London has the lowest proportion of older people of any English region but that the GLA aims for all new homes to achieve the lifetime homes standards, is it logical to argue that other areas of the country could fail the needs test in this regard?

Thirdly, how will the viability test be satisfied? Ultimately, viability relates to the price paid by the developer for the land. Higher standards, if required by the planners, will simply lead to the landowner getting a little less. When, if ever, could the modest extra costs of achieving optional higher standards—calculated by consultants for the DCLG to be no more than £1,400 per home, and usually much less—prevent accessible, disabled-friendly standards being met?

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Fourthly, can the Minister confirm that where a local authority already requires a higher standard than the new basic category 1 level, as the GLA does, they will be able to continue to do so, with their existing policies on accessibility passported through without having to go through any new procedures or awaiting a new local plan? Can he also confirm that it will be possible for those local authorities that now wish to require developers to adopt the new category 2 standard to do so through supplementary planning guidance, set out in supplementary planning documents, rather than awaiting the adoption or revision of their local plan?

Fifthly and finally, do the Government intend to commission research to assess the outcome of introducing the new standards? The DCLG’s impact assessment of

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these proposals estimates that 31% of new homes are currently built to lifetime homes standard, rising to 45% by 2024 if nothing changes. It will clearly be critical to keep track of the impacts of the new housing standards to make sure that the supply of accessible homes goes up and not down.

I think it was Aneurin Bevan, as the post-war Housing Minister, who said:

“In one year’s time we will be judged on the number of homes we have achieved; in ten years’ time we will be judged on the quality of those homes”.

We know now, as our population ages, how inadequate standards of accessibility—steep steps, narrow doorways, cramped bathrooms, having no downstairs loo, and so on—have helped to create an A&E crisis. The false economy of skimping on accessible, disabled-friendly standards on day one can mean that, later, thousands of us have to remain in hospital when we could otherwise be discharged; readmissions multiply as we are returned to inaccessible properties; and premature moves into expensive residential care are necessary because our homes are inaccessible.

I hope that the Government of today can show the foresight to ensure that, in the rush to build more homes, which we certainly need, we do not allow standards to slip. This amendment would prevent central government overriding efforts by local authorities to insist on the accessible, disabled-friendly lifetime homes standards which are now commonplace in London, and which could, and should, become standard practice everywhere. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response and beg to move.

Baroness Wilkins (Lab): My Lords, I speak in strong support of this amendment, so expertly and comprehensively moved by the noble Lord, Lord Best. When all the evidence points to the dire need for more accessible, future-proofed housing, surely the coalition Government will not insist on additional conditions to be met by local authorities before they can require housebuilders to build homes to disabled-friendly standards.

I apologise to the House for not being able to take part in previous stages of the Bill but I was spending time in hospital, in a spinal injury unit where I met far too many people whose homes had suddenly become inaccessible to them. They had gone out as usual one morning but had an accident, become paralysed and then found that they could never go back to their home again. All the clutter of their daily life was as they had left it; they have to rely on someone else to sort it out. Their families have to start the endless search for an accessible house or flat. They probably have to leave their much loved own home and change the children’s schools, while the patients themselves face long months in hospital long after they are ready for discharge. Is it surprising that relationships break down? Had the lifetime homes standard become universally applied soon after it was developed, probably none of that would be necessary.

Surely the coalition Government will not insist on this short-term reaction to the housing crisis, which will lead to far fewer accessible homes being built. It would mean that they are knowingly legislating to

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increase the pressure on health and social care budgets at a time when both are in crisis. I urge the Minister to readily give the noble Lord, Lord Best, the reassurances that he seeks.

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, I should declare that I am a vice-president of the Local Government Association. I support the amendment, because I think it is true that new subsection (4) in Clause 31 could result in making it harder for a local council to deliver the lifetime homes and wheelchair accessibility policies that we need. I therefore seek the reassurance of the Minister on this matter.

As we have heard, there is currently a very serious shortage of homes that are suitable or can be easily adapted for those with mobility difficulties. The solution to this problem, as we have heard, is to build new homes to a lifetime standard. This matters greatly and will matter even more in the future because people who develop mobility problems usually prefer to stay in their own homes, where any essential adaptions can be undertaken.

This Bill puts lifetime home standards and wheelchair-accessible standards on to a statutory basis, and that is to be welcomed. The problem is that councils will then be required to produce a raft of evidence to prove that there is a need for those lifetime and wheelchair-accessible homes. Definitions of future need might be hard to prove, when common sense tells us that we should build more accessible homes now for an ageing society to prevent serious problems arising in 10 to 20 years’ time.

Until now, local councils have been able to implement very progressive policies, such as requiring all new homes to be built to lifetime home standards or ensuring that a reasonable number of new homes—perhaps 10%—are built with wheelchair access as part of large-scale developments. In supporting new building standards, which improve things, and in believing that we want to encourage local planning authorities to take them up, and while I accept that the creation of new standards could be a significant step forward, I am still very concerned that we might be weakening existing planning powers of councils. I hope, therefore, to hear from the Minister clear confirmation that nothing in the Bill will get in the way of enabling planning authorities to deliver the extra lifetime and accessible homes that we need now and are going to need in the future.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes (Con): My Lords, I strongly support the amendment, and I declare an interest in that I have a daughter who has multiple sclerosis and is a board member of the Habinteg Housing Association. It does marvellous work in providing lifetime homes.

The importance of this has been so stressed by so many people tonight that I do not really need to comment on it. I have other amendments to speak on and noble Lords will be tired of listening to me. However, I strongly support everything that the noble Lord, Lord Best, and other speakers have said and hope the Government will see sense on this.

Lord McKenzie of Luton (Lab): My Lords, we should be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Best, for moving this amendment, which we wholeheartedly

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support. If there were any doubt as to whether we were going to support it, praying in aid Nye Bevan just about did it for us. I welcome my noble friend Lady Wilkins back to the House and acknowledge her knowledgeable contribution on an issue on which she has campaigned over a long time. It is good that the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, are on the same page as well.

We support the review of housing standards: a lot of good work has come out of it. However, one of the consequences, as we have heard, was that lifetime home standards and wheelchair-accessible standards have become optional extras. That is really the issue before us today. The noble Lord, Lord Best, has probed with a series of questions and I hope that the nature of those questions means that the Minister has ready and satisfactory replies to them all.

I draw the Minister’s attention to a couple of paragraphs of the housing review document. On page 6, paragraph 14, it says:

“Unlike other Building Regulations requirements the optional requirements described in the Approved Documents will not be mandatory. They will only be applicable where a local planning authority has put a plan policy in place specifically triggering the application of the optional requirement or nationally described space standard in particular circumstances. Neighbourhood Planning Bodies (and Neighbourhood Development Orders) will only be able to apply the space standard, and not optional requirements”.

Will the Minister tell us why that is the case? Perhaps more importantly, paragraph 21, which looks at applying optional requirements and nationally described standards, states:

“The first step is for a local planning authority to stipulate that an optional requirement or the nationally described space standard applies in that area. As stated already, this must be set in plan policies, which have been subject to normal Plan Examination processes. It would not be appropriate to apply optional requirements or the space standard through supplementary planning guidance, since this is not subject to a sufficient level of scrutiny”.

Have the Government moved on from that, or is that still applicable?

I have one small observation in relation to financial viability and cost. If the additional cost is £500 to £1,000, that is one or two weeks in a care home invested in a home on lifetime standards now. That obviously obviates that, going forward. I hope the Minister can satisfy us on those requirements, because it would be a great shame, given all the progress that has been made on lifetime home standards—particularly in London—if these developments were to push those backwards.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: I thank all noble Lords, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Best, for raising this issue. As he is aware, we have been in regular correspondence on this issue. Before going any further, however, I would like to join the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, in welcoming back the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, to her rightful place in your Lordships’ House. I, too, welcome her contribution here this evening.

The noble Lord, Lord Best, has rightly set out his concerns about the way in which the proposed building regulations’ optional requirements will operate, particularly in relation to issues of access. Let me say that the Government understand these concerns. I have written to the noble Lord with reassurances about the clause, explaining how the evidence gathering will work. I assure

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your Lordships that we will be issuing planning guidance shortly, to help authorities assemble evidence to use the new optional requirements. I hope that the letters that I have written to the noble Lord, Lord Best, have provided that level of reassurance, but I think it is important that I summarise some of the key points that have been raised in his questions.

Let me just put the amendment into context. In this particular context, we believe that the amendment is not needed, because Clause 31(4) is merely a general fallback power, a reserve power enabling the Government to use regulations to set out conditions for the way in which optional requirements should be used, but only if necessary. They might be necessary, for example, if the system is being misused in some way, or used without sufficient rigour; or if there are problems applying the new regulations. It could be that the guidance proposed does not have the effect expected or is not followed. The new system is based on an approach no different from how local planning authorities gather evidence to justify planning policies now. For the benefit of noble Lords, I will set out the key points about how it will work.

Optional requirements will allow local authorities to set building standards that are higher than those in the building regulations. They are a new concept in building regulations, and are widely supported following our consultation on this matter. They are an important new tool, which I am sure noble Lords will agree should be used appropriately. For the first time ever, we have put a series of housing standards into the building regulations, such as on lifetime homes and wheelchair housing. Giving these areas the full force of building regulations is a major new step that I hope will be welcomed by all noble Lords.

However, because not every new home needs to be built to such standards, and because it is costly to do so, we will let local authorities decide how to target the standards based on local needs, provided the standards do not make local housing developments unviable. The Government intend to issue planning guidance on matters to be taken into account by local authorities to work out their local needs, such as the proportion of older or disabled people. We consulted on the matters to be covered in that guidance. This will mirror the approach taken with planning guidance which supports the National Planning Policy Framework.

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Clause 31(4) simply provides a back-up power for the regulations we are putting in place to set the new system up. In many respects it is no different from other aspects of the building regulations which set out how local authorities should discharge their functions as a building control body. If the Government decide to put planning conditions in regulations under Clause 31(4), and I assure the House that we have no plans to do so, they will be subject to full consultation with interested parties, as we do with all changes to building regulations. It would be wrong to remove this power because we cannot anticipate all the potential ways the new optional requirement system is going to be used, and we need to have the tools available to address any problems.

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On conditions applying to access requirements, I have written to the noble Lord, Lord Best, about the types of evidence an authority may reasonably be asked to assemble to justify applying these new optional requirements. I shall lay out some of the Government’s position in this regard, based on the questions that the noble Lord asked. The key point, set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, is that authorities should plan for the current and future housing needs of a wide range of households, including older and disabled people. Authorities should base their assessment on key demographic and population information for their area and a housing needs assessment. This should take account of, first, the likely future need for housing for older and disabled people, including wheelchair-user dwellings; secondly, whether particular sizes and types of housing are needed to meet specific needs, for example, retirement homes, sheltered homes or care homes; thirdly, the accessibility and adaptability of the existing housing stock; and finally, the overall impact on viability.

The Government recognise that we have an ageing population and that there are households with varying forms of specific support needs. We are also committed to ensuring that we support people in their desire to continue to live in their own homes, but it will be down to local authorities to determine their local needs. We cannot say what each area will conclude. Planning guidance already contains useful data sources in this respect, but we are offering to set out in one place further useful data sources which planning authorities can draw from to inform and undertake their assessments to support their policies. This will reduce the need for councils to replicate elements of the work and will reduce assessment time.

The noble Lord, Lord Best, asked a question about viability. I should stress that this is not a new policy. The National Planning Policy Framework set this policy out clearly in 2012, and it applies to a range across the planning system. When setting new policies, authorities are expected to consider the cumulative impact of those policies across the lifetime of the plan. They should not impose a burden that stops development happening. There will be many claims on viability, not just accessibility policies, so we are letting local authorities be the best judge of the right policy mix in the light of their local policy priorities. If they wish to prioritise access issues, which we hope they will, they are at liberty to do so.

In a recent exchange of letters with the noble Lord, I was asked about how existing policies in plans will be treated under the new system. Last year, we consulted on an idea to permit existing standard policies in plans to continue to apply. We intend to implement this approach, although after a six-month transitional period existing policies must use these policies as a basis for applying standards as set out in the new optional requirements. This policy will also apply to standards expressed in the supplementary planning guidance, provided that the SPGs are firmly based on local plan policies.

Given the importance of this area, I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Best, that the Government are in the process of commissioning further research to investigate and improve the evidence underpinning the accessibility of the existing stock and the needs of different sectors

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of the community. This will consider how needs are likely to change over time to meet the needs of an ageing and widely diverse population. We will also be keeping under review how the new policy is being implemented.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, and my noble friend Lord Shipley asked questions on the needs test and whether it will make it harder for authorities to apply access standards. The short answer to that is absolutely not. There is no change to what authorities should do now to justify standards. They have to provide evidence now, and that will remain exactly the same. The noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, talked about neighbourhood plans, the application of space standards and optional regulations. We have consulted on that idea, but there is no final decision on that issue.

The amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Best, has given the Government an opportunity to lay out and, I hope, clarify the concerns and the issues he has raised. I hope I have provided reassurance that the system is robust and a positive move forward. Based on those reassurances, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Best: My Lords, I am very grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken, beginning with the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins. Everyone has welcomed the noble Baroness back into the Chamber and it is great to see her back again. She has brought personal testimony of the value and importance of accessible housing for all, which is part of a campaign she has been running for at least 10 years, for which I am deeply grateful.

I greatly appreciated the support of noble Lords from all around the House including the noble Lords, Lord Shipley and Lord McKenzie of Luton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes. The noble Lord, Lord McKenzie of Luton, made the fundamental point that spending a little bit upfront is recouped later on. It is such an essential point to make because that little investment can be paid back in spades later when people do not have to go into residential care and can return from hospital. Our A&E crisis can recede because people can get home safely and it will be satisfactory when they get there. I am very grateful to noble Lords for all their support.

I am also grateful to the Minister for putting on the record a number of points that we have corresponded about. It is clear that this will be a reserve power, a fallback power. That is good news. There was even a hint that it might never be used, which was helpful. If it is to be brought forward, there will be full consultation. That is good. Local authorities will receive firm guidance from government about the way in which evidence is going to be collected by them. Advice on that will be helpful, particularly in relation to the so-called needs test. I was not absolutely sure where we stand in relation to the overlap between the requirements for accessibility that local authorities want to lay down and their local strategic plans and the neighbourhood plans that the community brings together. I think we are still in the process of negotiating on those points, and I hope to be part of those negotiations.

Finally, the Minister confirmed that further research will take place on the impact of these new measures, and I hope that they will prove to be satisfactory and

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will show an expansion, not a contraction, in the number of new accessible homes that will be built in future. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 46K withdrawn.

Clause 33: Short-term use of London accommodation: power to relax restrictions

Amendment 47

Moved by Baroness Gardner of Parkes

47: Clause 33, page 28, line 32, after “which” insert “, for the duration of a major national or international sporting or entertainment event taking place in London,”

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I remind the House that I have declared my interests in the register and have spoken to that effect a number of times as I am the owner of some leasehold flats, which I have let on a long-term basis.

The topic of short lets needs to be addressed in detail. Excellent contributions were made in Committee by the noble Lords, Lord McKenzie and Lord Mawson, the noble Baroness, Lady Donaghy, and my noble friend Lady Hanham. The answers from the Minister were not adequate. It is scandalous that we have not seen the proposed new regulations in print before this Report stage of the Bill. I have asked questions on that matter and made clear the need to consider the regulations before Royal Assent. I am now informed that we will be aware of them only after Royal Assent. That is not good enough. That is too late.

It came as a surprise to me that this issue was to be in the Deregulation Bill at all. When the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee considered the draft Deregulation Bill in great detail, this clause was simply not included and therefore received no scrutiny at that stage. It has been slipped in since. Further, I have been told that although deregulation is proposed, new regulations will be required. I find the claim that it is a deregulation issue curious. What is “deregulation” about “reregulation”?

The Minister has said that there was a degree of confusion during the Olympics, and for that reason I think it perfectly fair for the Secretary of State to have complete control at times of great national events. However, I oppose Clause 33 as it stands, and that will be covered later, in Amendment 51. Most local authorities in London tell me that there was no confusion during the Olympics and everyone was perfectly happy with the arrangements that were made. My views on the main issue are largely due to past and current experience. I was a member of the Greater London Council when this legislation was considered and put forward. It was important then to protect Londoners, and it is even more necessary now. London is a special case, and is a drawcard for tourists.

My husband served for a good many years on the London Tourist Board. I have always supported initiatives to boost tourism, but not at the expense of destroying the way of life for long-term residents, particularly in blocks of flats where they can be more vulnerable to the nuisance created by different groups appearing every week, or every two weeks, to occupy the same

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flats and cause massive disturbances in these blocks. The Government’s view that people should be able to let their homes while they go away on holiday, for not more than 90 days a year, could be quite workable.

With the availability of instant online bookings for flights and accommodation, it is important to keep up to date. I consider 21 days pre-application excessive, and that if local authorities wish to offer a registration system for visitors and short-let tenants, they should be able to develop a fast-track system, enabling people to make better use of available accommodation on offer for a short visit.

Some local authorities, such as Westminster, are very keen to retain controls, and actively use their present system. They would be prepared to adjust to a faster pace of life for processing. They consider that registration, knowing who will live in a place, and for how long, are essential. On the other hand, Kensington and Chelsea tells me that it does not actively pursue anyone who is simply letting their own home, but that it wishes and needs to be able to take action against others who are making life hell for long-term residents.

The block in which I own two flats has 15 flats in all, three of which have been let for well over a year on a short-term basis. Every two weeks, a different 10 people arrive to occupy each of the one-bedroom flats. They abuse long-term tenants, and in some cases threaten them. They leave the door to the street open, as well as all fire escape doors, which means that there is no security at all in the block, as a means of access is available to anyone in the street. These short lets increase anti-social behaviour and fear of crime, and destroy the community carefully built up by the long-term residents.

As this already happens in some central London boroughs, no doubt the practices in central London will spread to other local authorities. As time progresses, the situation will change, as some boroughs wish to maintain high security and ensure that standards of short lets are enforced. As that happens in some boroughs, there will be a spreading from the centre of London into other boroughs. Why do the Government not leave the detail of administrative powers to the local authorities?

In these times of heightened security, the local authority must know who is occupying the property and for how long. Someone has to take responsibility, and in the event of action being needed to protect others in a block, the local council is greatly disadvantaged if it has no idea of who the occupants are or for how long they will be there. The noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, in discussions on the Bill, made clear to me that he views any control as unnecessary bureaucracy. That may be the view of someone who does not want to put themselves out to notify anyone when they go away, but it is certainly not fair to residents in these blocks.

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Why have we still not seen the details of the replies to the consultancy document, which was completed almost a year ago? I have tabled Questions; following a Question for Oral Answer on 8 December, I tabled a Question for Written Answer on that point, and received no reply. On the advice of the Table Office and well

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informed senior Members of the House, I was told to retable that Question. I did so, but there was still no reply. Now we get a statement from the Government, very much at the last minute, issued just this week, which still does not cover these issues. Why have the Government come forward with this startling change in regulation for London at such short notice? There is a need for the Government to discuss this matter more thoroughly with the London authorities, to agree acceptable and improved control for short-let properties in London, thus to encourage tourism—which I know the Business Minister and Housing Minister are keen to do—and at the same time protect long-term residents. Why are the Government not looking for the answer to benefit both homeowners and tourists?

I do not know whether the Government are aware of the huge press coverage that there has been of this subject. I noticed that in yesterday’s Times there was a story from Camden, which is finding great problems and has now developed a fraud team to tackle tenants who sublet homes on Airbnb. The homes being relet in Camden are mainly council houses, which is very bad because people are desperately in need of social housing in Camden. Again, there was a four-page spread in the Sunday TimesMagazine on 18 January, describing the situation in Paris and mentioning New York, both of which cities are about to introduce regulations.

Someone from Onefinestay phoned me and told me how it runs everything at a superb level—it is all of a luxurious standard and everything is cleaned up and looked after. Then I read a great article by a woman in the Evening Standard on 2 February, entitled:

“Nice idea, but I won’t let my house out again”.

She had let her house through Onefinestay, and was told that it would remove all her—

Lord McKenzie of Luton: I hope the noble Baroness will forgive me, but I was a little unclear as to whether she was speaking just to Amendment 47, which has been degrouped, or more generally to the raft of amendments that we will consider. If the noble Baroness is able to clarify that, it would help us to determine how we will proceed.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: I will be happy to clarify that. There seems to have been a slight muddle in that the last amendment I had on Clause 33 was meant to be degrouped, but instead only one was degrouped. I am therefore turning this into a slightly longer and wider field because I lost the opportunity to do that on the previous amendment, which was my original intention. I hope that your Lordships will understand that.

Everything is supposed to be perfect until you do it, then you find—well, I advise noble Lords to read it for themselves. It is from Monday 2 February, in the Evening Standard. There is another whole page on the other side about the woman behind the “unhotel revolution” and pseudo hotels—so it is quite a wide issue. It is interesting that the fraud teams are being brought in to look into the whole issue. I had a reply from the treasury officer when I asked him what of these lettings would be tax free. The answer was, “Nothing, except the right to sublet a room in your own house to a lodger for a sum of £4,000 and something—less than £5,000”. That would be the only free opportunity. It is

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very interesting that the Serious Fraud Office attended a meeting that we had in the House of Commons in January, partly on this issue but on property in general. There is such an opportunity for fraud that it will be very interesting to know who declares what, with no one able to check on anything at all as to who is in these places, with risks of terrorism and fraud or whatever else is going on. People tell me that they find it almost unbearable, the smell of drugs being smoked in the flat above them, because it becomes so intense to have 10 people in one room. Again, are there no restrictions on how many people can fit into one bedroom? I find it hard to believe that you can have 10 people—and this is in three different flats.

I could go on and on, but I do not intend to, because it is late and the House has had a very busy time, with more to follow. I hope that the Minister will be a bit more open about things, as I am very dissatisfied that Questions for a Written Answer have simply not been replied to. I beg to move.

Baroness Hanham (Con): My Lords, with my noble friend Lord Tope, I have three amendments down on this matter. To start with, I point out to the House that this is a very small clause with a very large impact. It consists of six subsections, four of which require regulations. As my noble friend said, not only have we not seen any sight of these regulations but, apart from the Written Ministerial Statement that appeared on Monday, we have no clue what direction the Government take on this, other than that it is a complete liberalisation of the situation as it stands.

My noble friend Lady Gardner laid out in her usual elegant way some of problems with the legislation before us. We have a slightly different view on the emphasis to be placed on this, but we are all agreed—my noble friend Lord Tope, myself, my noble friend Lady Gardner and the local authorities—that this cannot just be allowed to rip. Local authorities have not paid any attention to people letting out their homes for short times. It has been illegal ever since the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act came in in the 1970s but, by and large, there has been a very sensible attitude taken about this—that if it is your home and you can get money in for a fortnight or so, it will not be a matter that a local authority will bother itself with. However, once it is acknowledged or admitted that the situation has been happening but that it is against the law and always has been, somebody does something about it.

London is different from everywhere else. Although the Written Ministerial Statement says in a rather patronising way that these measures, whatever they are going to be, will draw London into the 21st century, we should all recognise that London has actually been living in the 21st century since the 20th century—or halfway through it. We live with a great deal of problems, not only those which my noble friend described about people who come to live in a property for a short time and cause trouble. Another problem is that a lot of the housing now being built is investment property for rent and, unless there are some controls on who can let out accommodation on a holiday let, all hell will be let loose and there will be rentals all over London taking place in an entirely illegal way.

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The laws have up to now been broken and there are now companies, some of which my noble friend mentioned, which, unwittingly or not, have enabled people to do that. But a business is building around all this, and there can no longer be any suggestion that this is just people having a one-off whim to go on holiday for a fortnight in New York or whatever and to earn a bit of money on the way. That is not the reality. The reality is that agencies are already set up to deal with people who want to let their houses short term. Some of them will be very good and some will already have measures in place to let houses in a way that means that they are properly managed, they are cleaned up afterwards, they are looked after and their tenants do not cause problems—and there is some security aspect about who those tenants are. However, let us not delude ourselves that that is what will happen. As the business builds, more and more businesses will be built around it. Unless there is some regulation as to what is and is not allowed, we can say goodbye to quite a lot of accommodation that we are pleased to describe as permanent accommodation at the moment.

My amendments do three things. One says that there must be at the very least a fine-touch registration system with the local authority. It can be done quite easily and uniformly across London, with a website—and I have spoken about the royal borough, to which my noble friend has already referred. It can be done securely on a website. What can be discussed subsequently is whether people have to register before they go away or whether they have to register annually and say that they may be going away and letting their property under those circumstances. It requires some indication as to how many days they will be able to do that for, and the Written Ministerial Statement suggests that it should be 90. I do not know about you, but I am jolly lucky to get 90 days’ holiday a year. It seems to be quite a lot—and I think that most families would find 90 days quite a lot to go away. There will have to be a balance between 30 days, which I think has been promoted, although it is very hard to know as we do not have any regulations before us, and the 90 days being proposed by the Government.

There must be some way in which the local authority knows that the property may be let by the permanent owner, and it must have some idea of how long they will be entitled to do that—and for a very good reason. If the local authority gets complaints about that property, it is very helpful for it to know, for enforcement action to be taken, that it is being let by the owner. There are plenty of examples. My noble friend could give spiels of examples of where a property has been abused and people’s lives have been made a misery by lettings such as this and longer term. That would bring the planning authority back into the situation. At the moment, it has been completely chucked out. The provision in the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act goes and is amended with a few regulations that we do not know about and have not seen.

There is what I hope is an unwitting tendency at the moment to keep downgrading London. A later clause in the Bill on waste amends the London Local Authorities Act and this clause amends the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act. London is always going to be different and will always have different pressures and

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requirements. If every time local authority legislation goes through some of the measures get thrown out, that is not at all helpful or supportive. I think we would all hope that this clause would go away—at least until we have had an opportunity to sort out what the regulations are going to be, and how much regulation, even if it is light-touch regulation, we can put back in. My amendments try to achieve that. It is essential that the Government take note of the concern on this subject and do not try to pretend that London is some doolally maiden of two centuries ago with no idea of how anything works. They must recognise that London is an exceptional place, with great pressure on it from all sorts of sources, such as development, investment and the general movement of people in and out of the city.

I believe that our amendments are proportionate. I apologise to my noble friend the Minister for the fact that it is me—as well as my noble friend Lady Gardner—who is leading the attack from behind him, but I beg the Government to go back and take note of the concerns of London Councils. I should have declared my position as a co-vice-president of London Councils. It represents every local authority in London and it is absolutely against all these provisions.