Housing Crisis to be one of the major battlegrounds of the 2015 election.

As the debate continued, this was the one point upon which all could agree: parliament must find a way to make sure that private landlords provide enough homes that are "stable and secure, affordable and of a decent standard".

Shadow housing minister, Jack Dromey, used the session to move a motion stating "this house recognizes the private rented sector´s growing role in meeting housing need".

More than a third of privately rented properties do not meet the decent homes standard, which all social tenancies must hit.

"In no way do we want to promote flight from the private rented sector; on the contrary, we want to transform the private rented sector so that we move in future to a sector of choice that works for landlords and for tenants," Dromey concluded, and his argument was supported by a host of other speakers. He knows the Labour message is starting to stick because landlords are moved to fight back.

Within hours, Ajay Jagota of KIS Lettings had warned that the genuine discussion over housing need was resorting to a "war of words" at a time when tenants needed fast action. He may have been heartened by the contribution of the housing minister, Mark Prisk, which recognized a failure over 15 years to meet housing need through new development but rejected the idea of regulation.
Prisk asked for the motion to support "action to be taken against the small minority of rogue landlords, without burdening the whole sector with unnecessary costs".

The debate, while an important political foray into the daily pressures of the housing sector, rumbled along but covered little new ground. Decent housing, longer tenancies, insurance, rising rents and coping with family life in an unstable tenure are all old chestnuts of the private rent debate.

What housing professionals were waiting to hear finally came from a new voice: Damian Collins, Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe, and one of 2010´s new intake of younger Tories.
Rather than rehashing old issues, Collins proposed a way of tackling several problems at once in a single policy by offering direct payment of housing benefit to private landlords, providing them a guaranteed income stream in return for demonstrating that their properties were maintained to a certain level.

A simple solution, and quickly passed over in this debate. But this kind of fresh thinking will be latched on to by housing lobbyists in the long run-up to 2015.

By Emma Cinis

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