Shapps poised to act over rogue landlord

Housing minister Grant Shapps has revealed that he is in talks with ‘interested parties’ about rogue landlords and will be issuing guidance.

In an exchange in the House of Commons, Shapps said: “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.”

In response to a question from Coventry Labour MP Jim Cunningham, he said that the number of non-decent homes in the private rented sector has fallen from 47% in 2006 to 37%.

He also denied removing any of the protections from landlords or tenants in the private rented sector, saying: “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.”

Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey took him to task about recent claims in the Commons that private rents have been falling in response to caps to housing benefit.

Dromey said: “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?”

Shapps admitted to having used the survey by LSL, parent company of estate agency chains Your Move and Reeds Rains, but said it had not been wrong to say rents are going down.

He said: “The LSL survey shows that in the three months through to January, rents actually fell, but we do not have to believe LSL.

“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.”