Yesterday, we moved forward in protecting vulnerable tenants by protecting them from the questionable practice of retaliatory evictions. This is the culmination of a process started by Sarah Teather MP on 28th November when she secured a private Members Bill on Tenancies (Reform) to deal with the problems caused by Retaliatory Evictions. Sadly there were members in the Commons that day who were themselves landlords, did not share the ethos of the Bill and talked it out of time. So it was a great privilege for Lib Dems in the Lords to be able to support the essence of Sarah’s Bill in the amendment we debated yesterday. Sarah Teather deserves a lot of credit for her efforts to end this pointless suffering. And for the work she did in the commons to stand up to right wing Tories all too willing to see this continue.
The amendment is not about penalising conscientious landlords, nor is it about protecting bad tenants who do not respect the property 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 gives a clear signal to those landlords who currently ignore the state of their properties, that this is no longer acceptable. If such landlords engage in a regular programme of maintenance, they are likely to have a much better relationship with their tenants, reduce the incidence of costly tenancy turnover and be less likely to face expensive repair bills for major incidents, such as collapsed ceilings due to persistent leaks.
Liberal Democrat peer and deputy leader of Pendle Borough Council calls on the Government to provide grants that would encourage housing developments on unprofitable brownfield sites in East Lancashire.
This is about former cotton towns in East (Pennine) Lancashire where the housing market is slack and house prices in the towns are low – decent terraced houses typically from £50,000 to £85,000, modern semis and bungalows from £100,000 to £150,000.
Most of the available housing land, brown or green, is not “viable”. The cost of land and building plus the developers’ profits is more than the local market return from sales or letting. The only exceptions are attractive countryside sites on the edge of town where there is strong resistance to development (and not just from NIMBY neighbours), the subject of bitterly fought planning battles.
Today Lord Stoneham of Droxford will use oral questions in the Chamber to ask the Government when it will publish a promised prospectus on establishing new Garden Cities. They need to be considered seriously as a way of tackling the housing shortage, he says
It is clear that housing must play a key role in Government policy if we are to build a stronger economy in a fairer society.
After several decades of housing undersupply in the face of growing need and demand, the great danger for the next 10 years is another decade of house prices booming in the face of market shortages.
Well designed, sustainable housing must be high on the Government’s agenda to help get the economy moving and to meet real social need.
The scale of the need is such that we will not be able to depend on small-scale infill or urban sprawl development. One of the great successes of social policy after the second world war was the development of Garden Cities such as Letchworth, Stevenage and Welwyn. That is why Garden Cities should be looked at again.
In its Housing Strategy published in November 2011 the Government promised to publish a prospectus of what it expected from local authorities and developers and the contribution the Government could make to get some of these big new developments on the housing agenda.
Obviously these developments won’t happen overnight because consultation and local support will be paramount. Their design and sustainability will be central too.
But if Garden Cities are to be a realistic option which can make an impact within the next decade we are asking the Government to publish their prospectus as soon as possible and certainly before the autumn, when it will be two years since they committed themselves to do so. That is why the question will be asked in the House of Lords today.
Publication should help to demonstrate that after several decades of neglect the Government is determined to make housing a central element of its plans for economic and social regeneration.