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Private Rented Sector

Volume 542: debated on Monday 12 March 2012

5. What assessment he has made of the (a) affordability, (b) length of tenure and (c) standards of housing afforded to tenants in the private rented sector. (98957)

10. What assessment he has made of the (a) affordability, (b) length of tenure and (c) standards of housing afforded to tenants in the private rented sector. (98963)

The latest report of the English housing survey was published on 9 February. It shows that rents in the private sector have reduced in real terms, that standards have improved and that only 8% of tenancies are terminated before the tenants so choose.

Leaving aside the report, may I ask the Minister what he is doing to drive up standards in the private sector, particularly in relation to rogue landlords?

As was indicated in the previous exchange with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, I have just held a meeting with the interested parties about rogue landlords. They are a matter of considerable concern, and I will be pulling together all the powers and issuing a booklet on that shortly. The hon. Gentleman rightly asks about the standards, and I can tell him that the number of non-decent homes in the private rented sector has fallen from 47% in 2006 to 37%.

Given what the Minister has just said, why do his Government seem intent on removing further protections from private tenants, who, in my constituency in particular, are at the mercy of rogue landlords? Should he not be protecting those hard-working tenants and driving up standards in the private rented sector?

Although he speaks with great passion, the hon. Gentleman is fundamentally wrong, because I am not removing any of the protections from landlords or tenants in the private rented sector. It is worth remembering that actual measures consistently show that people are happier in the private rented sector than in the social sector, which might surprise him. I can also tell him that 90% of tenancies are ended by the tenant, not by the landlord.

Both the Housing Minister and the Prime Minister, out of touch with reality, have asserted on the Floor of the House of Commons that rents are falling in the private rented sector. An analysis conducted by the House of Commons Library reveals that in 90% of local authorities in England, in all nine regions, rents are rising or staying the same. Will the Housing Minister now admit to the 1.1 million families struggling to pay their rent that he got it wrong?

The LSL survey shows that in the three months through to January rents actually fell, but we do not have to believe LSL—[Interruption.] There was rightly some scepticism there—LSL measures only buy to let—so let us instead look at the absolutely authoritative figures recently produced by the English housing survey, which show that in real terms rents have fallen in the past year.