The Homelessness Reduction Bill has passed its final stage in the Commons and will now head to the House of Lords.
The bill passed through both the report stage and third reading in the Commons last Friday, with cross-party support, government backing and a little help from Portsmouth and District Private Landlords Association.
It will now pass to the House of Lords, before receiving Royal Assent and becoming legislation.
The bill seeks to prevent homelessness by placing extra duties on councils to intervene at an earlier stage with households who are at risk of homelessness, to provide more detailed advice on housing options for those at risk of homelessness and to make it easier for applicants to appeal a decision against them.
The government recently announced £48m would be given to councils over two years to fund the new duties. Councils have argued this is not enough and following pressure from the Local Government Association the government has agreed to review the funding after two years and today announced another £13m. It has committed to regular reviews of the cost to Local Authorities.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said "the Homelessness Reduction Act will be a true landmark. For 40 years we"ve had a system that fails too many homeless people by turning them away from help when they need it most. This legislation could help put an end to that injustice once and for all."
The significance of the bill for landlords will be that, following Royal Assent, Local Authorities will no longer be able to advise tenants in receipt of a section 21 repossession notice to sit it out until the landlord has obtained a costly court order or even engaged a bailiff. They will advise tenants well before eviction and may be able to assist in keeping good tenants in place or find alternative accommodation relieving the stress on tenants and landlords.
Andrew Slaughter, a Labour MP, attempted to amend the bill at the last minute by adding three new clauses. One would have blocked the use of Section 21 notices for the first 3 years of a tenancy, another introduced rent controls. Landlords including our own Tony Athill lobbied their MPs to attend the debate and to support the bill without the additions. Flick Drummond, MP for Portsmouth South, who was part of the team which drafted the bill, made a compelling appeal for the Labour amendments to be withdrawn, directly quoting evidence from the PDPLA. Thankfully he did and the resultant bill now has little that the House Of Lords can object to.
Mrs Drummond also mentioned that PCC are looking at how they can amend their policy before the new Act will force them to. We have been arguing that their attitude to tenants threatened with eviction is one reason so few landlords will take in low income and vulnerable tenants.
We are delighted to hear that the RLA have commissioned research into why landlords evict tenants so we can correct the delusions of certain Labour MPs who blame us for the high levels of homelessness.
We took advantage of supporting Mrs Drummond in today's debate to remind her that we are relying on her to share our concerns regarding plans to licence more HMOs and prevent the use a many small rooms currently occupied by happy tenants.
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.