Response - Housing Bill

By: Marc Francis  Published: March 2004


This document is Shelter's response to the Housing Bill, published in December 2003. The Bill includes measures to discourage Right to Buy abuses and a licensing system for houses in multiple occupation.

Summary

The Queen's Speech announced that a Housing Bill will be introduced in the forthcoming Parliamentary Session.  It is expected that this will be based on the Government's recent response to the ODPM select committee's report on the draft Housing Bill published earlier this year.  In addition to measures to reform the house buying process, the Bill is therefore likely to include:

  • A licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)
  • Selective licensing of private landlords in areas of low demand
  • The new Housing Health and Safety Rating System to replace the fitness standard
  • Reforms to the Right to Buy to prevent abuse of the scheme
  • Rights of succession for unmarried partners including same-sex couples

Shelter welcomes these measures, particularly those to introduce a licensing scheme for HMOs.  However, we hope that Ministers will be persuaded to add the following measures during the Bill's passage through Parliament:

  • The statutory regulation of tenants' deposits and other fees, including a national Tenancy Deposit Scheme with independent arbitration when disputes occur
  • A wider HMO licensing scheme covering all properties posing a significant risk to the health and safety of occupants.
  • An updated definition of statutory overcrowding
  • A requirement that all private landlords meet minimum management standards

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