Housing minister Mark Prisk has dismissed Labour’s proposals for a national register of landlords to improve standards in the private rented sector.
In response to the proposal in shadow housing minister Jack Dromey’s opposition day motion on Wednesday, Mr Prisk said such a register would be ‘both toothless and highly expensive’.
‘We want to ensure that a national register is identified as costly and, to be blunt, probably highly ineffective because the rogues will flout it, much as they do the current law,’ he said. ‘Enforcement is the key.’
He said local authorities currently have enough powers to tackle PRS landlords offering a poor standard of accommodation, such as emergency prohibition orders.
Mr Dromey’s motion called on the government to ‘introduce a national register of landlords and empower local authorities to improve standards and deal with rogue landlords’.
Mr Prisk said: ‘What is clear is that for the majority of law-abiding landlords, such a register… would mean that those who are doing the right thing and are already accredited will have a new, additional burden placed on them.’
Mr Dromey also called for the government to promote longer-term tenancies in the private rented sector. Mr Prisk answered: ‘Institutional investors would positively welcome longer-term tenancies that gave them a steady income stream.
‘We are therefore working to enable the market to develop a fuller range of lease terms that match what tenants and landlords want. The key point is flexibility, not prescriptive regulation.’
In the same debate the Labour MP for Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter, said that as people will have to move out of London because of benefit caps the government must ensure properties in the PRS sector are of quality.
‘Because of benefit caps, including housing benefit caps, almost 1,500 families in my constituency are being forced out of properties in Hammersmith and Fulham,’ he said.
‘If the government are going ahead with their misguided plan to force people out of social housing and out of London in this way, they at least have a duty to see that the condition of the properties they are moving into makes them fit for habitation.’