Clause 35 - Requirement to keep active entries up-to-date

Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 28 Tachwedd 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I commend the clauses to the Committee. I am interested to hear the thoughts of the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich.

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I have two brief questions for the Minister in relation to this group of clauses. I am more than happy for him to write to me on these points, as they are quite niche.

First, the powers under clause 38 will be used to set fees in relation to registration on the database. Clause 38(5) allows for all or part of the amount received in fees to be paid to local housing authorities or into the Consolidated Fund. Is the implication of the inclusion of this provision in the Bill that the Government expect there to be a surplus from fees collected by the database? If so, why do the Government not believe, given that they are the relevant enforcement body, that any available funds should be allocated to local authorities alone rather than central Government?

Secondly, we take it from the nature of the charging regime that the Government hope the database will be financially self-sufficient. However, the work needed to maintain and verify entries on the database will be onerous, and the start-up costs could be significant. Can the Minister provide any detail at this stage as to what the Government expect the resourcing requirements of the database to be? Can he provide assurances as to how its implementation and running costs will be met?

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

In answer to the hon. Member’s question about landlords having to pay to join the service, we intend to fund the service through fees charged to private landlords when they register on the portal. We will take steps to ensure that these costs remain reasonable, proportionate and sustainable. The new service will bring substantial benefits to landlords as well as tenants, providing a single source of information about their legal responsibilities and helping them to showcase their compliance. It will also support local councils to enforce against unscrupulous landlords, who undercut the responsible majority.

On resourcing for local authorities, the information recorded on the portal will save local authorities time when enforcing health and safety standards in the PRS. Our research has shown that locating landlords and properties takes up a significant proportion of local authorities’ resources. Additionally, we are undertaking a new burdens assessment and will ensure that additional burdens created by the new system are fully funded.

Question agreed to.

Clause 35 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 36 to 42 ordered to stand part of the Bill.