Rental homes should be confiscated from private landlords who repeatedly break the rules and exploit tenants, according to the head of the Commons housing committee.
Clive Betts MP believes confiscated homes could become the property of councils, which could then be used to house people in need or sold to raise money for social housing.
The chair of the levelling up, housing and communities select committee told The Guardian that squalor in private rented housing had been made worse and was underestimated because tenants were “simply too frightened to report disrepair”.
He believes some landlords treat fines for letting out squalid, unsafe and overcrowded homes as simply a cost of doing business.
Betts said tougher action was needed to deter landlords from mistreating tenants. “They’re putting tenants in appalling accommodation, they’re using the threat of eviction to make sure that they don’t get complaints and they are oblivious to the fines that are levied against them,” he said.
“All that needs to change and needs to change quickly. Not waiting for some court reforms in five or six years’ time.”
His cross-party committee recently clashed with ministers over their handling of the ban on no-fault evictions, which Housing Secretary Michael Gove recently delayed so that it could first reform the courts.
Betts said the committee was “very angry” that the government had cited its concern about court capacity, which it first raised four years earlier, when explaining the delay.
He said it was “probable” the ban would not come into effect until after the next general election. Betts also believed that Labour’s policy to boost social housebuilding by negotiating harder to get private developers to build more homes would not solve the housing crisis.
Image credit: Labour Party