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Written Question
Housing: Investment
22 Oct 2021

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on housing of homes purchased for investment rather than accommodation.

Answered by Christopher Pincher

Whilst the Government is committed to helping people to own their own home, a healthy housing market is built upon the co-existence of a range of tenures, including the private rented sector (PRS), to meet individual needs and requirements.

The Build to Rent (BtR) sector is one example that has attracted significant institutional investment over recent years. BtR boosts housing supply, diversifies the private rental sector and increases quality and choice for renters in cities and towns across England. We have revised the National Planning Policy Framework and issued a new chapter of planning guidance to support the delivery of more BtR homes, including affordable rental homes. Our Build to Rent Fund provided over £630 million of development finance for the supply of new homes built specifically for private rent. We are also providing support to the sector through the £3.5 billion PRS Guarantee Scheme.

This Government is committed to supporting the supply of new homes. We have made strong progress towards our aim of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s - delivering around 244,000 last year, the highest in over 30 years. This is backed by nearly £20 billion in investment: initial funding of £7.1 billion for the National House Building Fund over the next four years to unlock up to 860,000 homes over the lifetime of the projects.


Written Question
Rented Housing
21 Oct 2021

Questioner: Jess Phillips (LAB - Birmingham, Yardley)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to deliver a new deal for renters.

Answered by Eddie Hughes

The Government remains committed to building back fairer and delivering a better deal for renters. We will publish a White Paper setting out a package of reforms that create a fairer private rented sector that works for both tenants and landlords. We are undertaking robust and structured stakeholder engagement working with the sector to inform this while also learning from the pandemic and its impact on the sector. We will bring forward legislation in due course and when parliamentary time allows.


Written Question
Private Rented Housing: Reform
18 Oct 2021

Questioner: Rupa Huq (LAB - Ealing Central and Acton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will publish a white paper on reforms to the private rented sector by the end of October 2021.

Answered by Eddie Hughes

We remain committed to delivering our reforms to the Private Rented Sector. Our priority is to bring forward a considered White Paper that works for landlords and tenants and it is important that we take the time to get the policy development right. We are working hard with stakeholders from across the sector to inform this and are making good progress. We will provide more details on publication in due course.


Written Question
Private Rented Housing: Pets
18 Oct 2021

Questioner: Zarah Sultana (LAB - Coventry South)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will introduce legislative proposals to prevent landlords from prohibiting through tenancy agreements the keeping of pets by tenants.

Answered by Eddie Hughes

The Government recognises the importance of pet ownership to many renting in the private rented sector. We have therefore taken steps to make it easier for responsible tenants to keep pets in the private rented sector.

We have revised the national Model Tenancy Agreement, the government’s recommended contract for assured shorthold tenancies in the private rented sector, in order to make it easier for tenants with pets to find private landlords who will accept them. The revision aims to strike the balance between protecting private landlords from situations where their properties are damaged by badly behaved pets and ensuring responsible pet owning tenants are not unfairly penalised.

The Government has no plans at this time to amend the law relating to pets in the private rented sector.


Written Question
Evictions
18 Oct 2021

Questioner: Rupa Huq (LAB - Ealing Central and Acton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of abolishing section 21 no fault evictions.

Answered by Eddie Hughes

The Government is committed to bring in a Better Deal for Renters, including improving tenants' security by abolishing Section 21, or so-called 'no fault', evictions. The primary merit of abolishing Section 21 is enabling tenants to rent with certainty, ensuring that they will not be asked to leave without being given a fair reason. Another benefit of abolishing Section 21 is that it will grant tenants greater protection from retaliatory evictions if they complain about poor standards, which in turn could help to improve standards in the private rented sector. Our reforms will also make sure that landlords have a route to regain possession where they have a valid reason to do so. This is important to mitigate any potential negative consequences of abolishing section 21.

We have consulted in 2019 on how the reformed tenancy regime should operate and received nearly 20,000 responses. We are carefully considering the responses, including the impact of the pandemic, as we develop the detail of the reforms. We are undertaking regular engagement with key stakeholders to inform this and will publish a White Paper detailing our proposals in due course.


Written Question
Rented Housing
18 Oct 2021

Questioner: Daniel Zeichner (LAB - Cambridge)

Question

What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on preventing illegal practices in the rental sector.

Answered by Kit Malthouse

The Home Office operates the Right to Rent Scheme in England, which ensures only those with the correct immigration status can access the private rented sector, whilst tackling unscrupulous landlords who exploit vulnerable migrants.

My officials work closely with their colleagues in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and enforcement bodies to ensure the effectiveness of powers to tackle criminal landlords, including civil penalties and banning orders.


Written Question
Private Rented Housing: Local Housing Allowance
30 Sep 2021

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effect of the increase in the rental cost of the private rented sector on people in receipt of Local Housing Allowance.

Answered by David Rutley

Broad Rental Market Areas, of which there are 192 in Great Britain, are determined in accordance with requirements laid down in legislation. Each Broad Market Rental Area must contain a variety of property types and tenures, sufficient privately rented accommodation and access to facilities for health, education, recreation, banking and shopping. The boundaries of Broad Rental Market Areas are set by rent officers based on these factors. If at any time, rent officers decide that a boundary should be moved they must carry out a review, consulting with affected local authorities among others, and then submit a recommendation to the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions to decide.

In April 2020 Local Housing Allowance rates were increased to the 30th percentile of local rents. This investment of nearly £1 billion provided 1.5 million claimants with an average £600 more housing support in 2020/21 than they would otherwise have received.

We have maintained Local Housing Allowance rates at the same cash level for 2021/22, rather than reverting back to previous rates.

Local Housing Allowance rates are reviewed each year, taking account of local rental data collected by rent officers.


Written Question
Empty Property
24 Sep 2021

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to assist local authorities to build maintenance capacity in order that void properties are brought rapidly into use.

Answered by Christopher Pincher

Local authorities have many powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes. Through the New Homes Bonus, they receive the same amount for bringing an empty home back into use as building a new one. Billing authorities in England also have the power to charge additional council tax - on top of the standard bill - on properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for at least two years, on properties that have been empty for at least five years, and on properties that have been empty for at least 10 years.

In certain circumstances, local authorities can exercise powers to take over the management of long-term empty homes in order to bring them back into use in the private rented sector.


Written Question
Rented Housing: Pets
24 Sep 2021

Questioner: Emma Hardy (LAB - Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of removing barriers to renting for people with pets.

Answered by Eddie Hughes

The Government recognises the importance of pet ownership to many renting in the private rented sector. We have therefore taken steps to make it easier for responsible tenants to keep pets in the private rented sector, as part of a broader mission to improve life for tenants.

We have revised the national Model Tenancy Agreement, the Government's recommended contract for assured shorthold tenancies in the private rented sector, in order to make it easier for tenants with pets to find private landlords who will accept them. The revision aims to strike the balance between protecting private landlords from situations where their properties are damaged by badly behaved pets and ensuring responsible pet owning tenants are not unfairly penalised.


Written Question
Migrant Workers: NHS
21 Sep 2021

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of restrictions in the Immigration Act 2016 that a tenancy cannot be offered to NHS staff without a minimum of a Band 5 qualification.

Answered by Kevin Foster

Anyone with lawful immigration status in the UK can access the private rented housing sector, regardless of their qualifications, employment or income.

The Right to Rent Scheme came into force under the Immigration Act 2014. It was launched to ensure only those lawfully present in the UK can access the private rented sector, and to tackle unscrupulous landlords who exploit vulnerable migrants, sometimes in very poor conditions.

The Immigration Act 2016 introduced criminal offences for landlords and letting agents who knowingly let property to individuals without lawful immigration status. It does not carry any restrictions on the right to rent for individuals who are lawfully present in the UK.


Written Question
Discretionary Housing Payments
13 Sep 2021

Questioner: Justin Madders (LAB - Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with local authorities on the link between the Local Housing Allowance rates and Discretionary Housing Payment applications.

Answered by Will Quince

We regularly engage with local authorities in relation to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), this includes discussions on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates.

DHPs can be paid to those entitled to Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit who face a shortfall in meeting their housing costs, including those in the private rented sector whose LHA maximum rate does not cover the full amount of their rent. Local authorities have broad discretion to spend in line with their local priorities, supported by non-statutory guidance, which provides a list of priority groups to assist with their decision making.

Funding for LHA rates was boosted by almost £1bn in 2020/21 and rates have been maintained in cash terms at their increased levels for 2021/22.

Local authorities are notified annually of the total amount allocated to each authority. For 2021-22 the Government has made available £140m in DHP funding for local authorities in England and Wales to distribute to help support vulnerable people with housing costs.


Written Question
Empty Property
13 Sep 2021

Questioner: Colleen Fletcher (LAB - Coventry North East)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent estimate he has made of the number of empty residential properties in (a) Coventry North East constituency, (b) Coventry, (c) the West Midlands and (d) England; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that empty residential properties in those areas do not fall into disrepair and can return into productive use.

Answered by Christopher Pincher

As of October 2020, there were 268,385 long-term empty properties in England, 1,661 in Coventry and 28,740 in the West Midlands. Figures are not collected at parliamentary constituency level


Local authorities have powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes. Through the New Homes Bonus, they receive the same amount for bringing an additional empty home back into use over a baseline threshold as building a new one

Billing authorities in England also have the power to charge up to 100% extra council tax - on top of the standard bill - on properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for at least two years, up to 200% extra on properties that have been empty for at least five years, and up to 300% extra on properties that have been empty for at least 10 years


In certain circumstances, local authorities can exercise powers to take over the management of long-term empty homes in order to bring them back into use in the private rented sector. Local authorities can apply for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) when a property has been empty for more than two years, subject to the production of evidence that the property has been causing a nuisance to the community and evidence of community support for their proposal


Grant funding is also available through the Affordable Homes Programme to bring empty homes back into use. Empty properties must not be existing social housing owned by the Registered Provider or by another Registered Provider


It is for local housing authorities to decide when to use their powers to deal with empty properties, and they have the flexibility to focus on locally determined priorities and allocate their resources accordingly.


Written Question
Prisoners' Release: Temporary Accommodation
10 Sep 2021

Questioner: Lyn Brown (LAB - West Ham)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans he has to expand the 84-night temporary accommodation scheme for prison leavers to the seven probation regions not included in the funding.

Answered by Alex Chalk

As part of our commitment to eliminate rough sleeping, we are working across Government, with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Welsh Government and other Government Departments, to address the barriers offenders face in securing suitable accommodation.

On 28 July 2021, the Government announced allocations for the Accommodation for Ex-Offenders scheme, with £13 million allocated to 87 schemes across 145 local authorities to support prison leavers to access private rented sector accommodation. Local authority-led schemes vary and include a mixture of funding deposits, insurance or landlord incentives to help people into their own home, as well as landlord liaison and ongoing tenancy support. The scheme has been developed, together with the Community Accommodation Service, to provide a pathway for prison leavers from prison into their own private rented sector accommodation. No public targets have been set, but local authorities will be providing monitoring information to the MHCLG alongside wider monitoring information on homelessness and rough sleeping.

The Community Accommodation Service is providing transitional housing for up to 84 nights for offenders under probation supervision in five Probation Service regions who are at risk of homelessness on release from prison. We are monitoring the impact of the scheme closely to inform decisions in relation to its development.


Written Question
Prisoners' Release: Housing
10 Sep 2021

Questioner: Lyn Brown (LAB - West Ham)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how funding provided to local authorities through the Accommodation for Ex-Offenders scheme will be used to support prison leavers into private rented sector accommodation.

Answered by Alex Chalk

As part of our commitment to eliminate rough sleeping, we are working across Government, with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Welsh Government and other Government Departments, to address the barriers offenders face in securing suitable accommodation.

On 28 July 2021, the Government announced allocations for the Accommodation for Ex-Offenders scheme, with £13 million allocated to 87 schemes across 145 local authorities to support prison leavers to access private rented sector accommodation. Local authority-led schemes vary and include a mixture of funding deposits, insurance or landlord incentives to help people into their own home, as well as landlord liaison and ongoing tenancy support. The scheme has been developed, together with the Community Accommodation Service, to provide a pathway for prison leavers from prison into their own private rented sector accommodation. No public targets have been set, but local authorities will be providing monitoring information to the MHCLG alongside wider monitoring information on homelessness and rough sleeping.

The Community Accommodation Service is providing transitional housing for up to 84 nights for offenders under probation supervision in five Probation Service regions who are at risk of homelessness on release from prison. We are monitoring the impact of the scheme closely to inform decisions in relation to its development.


Written Question
Prisoners' Release: Housing
10 Sep 2021

Questioner: Lyn Brown (LAB - West Ham)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many prison leavers in each region will be helped into private rented sector accommodation through the Accommodation for Ex-Offenders scheme; and how the outcomes of the scheme will be measured.

Answered by Alex Chalk

As part of our commitment to eliminate rough sleeping, we are working across Government, with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Welsh Government and other Government Departments, to address the barriers offenders face in securing suitable accommodation.

On 28 July 2021, the Government announced allocations for the Accommodation for Ex-Offenders scheme, with £13 million allocated to 87 schemes across 145 local authorities to support prison leavers to access private rented sector accommodation. Local authority-led schemes vary and include a mixture of funding deposits, insurance or landlord incentives to help people into their own home, as well as landlord liaison and ongoing tenancy support. The scheme has been developed, together with the Community Accommodation Service, to provide a pathway for prison leavers from prison into their own private rented sector accommodation. No public targets have been set, but local authorities will be providing monitoring information to the MHCLG alongside wider monitoring information on homelessness and rough sleeping.

The Community Accommodation Service is providing transitional housing for up to 84 nights for offenders under probation supervision in five Probation Service regions who are at risk of homelessness on release from prison. We are monitoring the impact of the scheme closely to inform decisions in relation to its development.