Alex Cunningham MP Calls on Government to Protect Local Communities

Labour has launched a bid to protect local neighbourhoods, fighting government planning changes which will allow bad landlords to take residential communities and fill them with temporary bedsits.

Local MP Alex Cunningham has signed two Early Day Motions (729 and 730) in the House of Commons calling on Housing Minister Grant Shapps not to repeal changes to the planning legislation requiring all Houses in Multiple Occupation to have planning permission. The changes, which would otherwise have passed unopposed, will now be debated.

Under changes to the law brought in by the Labour Government in January, local authorities were given new powers to make private landlords converting family homes into shared houses apply for planning permission. The new Housing Minister last week laid down new regulations, which if they remain unchallenged, will mean the repeal of this legislation.

John Healey MP, Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning, said:

“We want to protect local neighbourhoods by stopping government planning changes which are a green light for bad landlords to take over good family homes and turn them into temporary bedsits. The Government’s plans will tie the hands of councils preventing them from controlling the spread of bedsit barons.”

Alex Cunningham MP commented after signing the motions:

“In Stockton North there are serious consequences to the unregulated proliferation of HMOs.  Not only do these large shared houses pose major problems for residents in terms of noise, parking and rubbish collection, but unsuitable conversions also mean that many students and low-paid workers have to live in cramped, poorly maintained and often unhealthy or even dangerous homes.”

Dr Richard Tyler, Coordinator of the National HMO Lobby, which represents Residents’ Associations across the UK welcomed the EDM, saying:

“The National HMO Lobby received assurances from the Government prior to the election that the legislation would remain intact, and we are deeply concerned at the effect new proposals will have on communities. Un-managed concentrations of HMOs de-stabilise local communities, and make it even harder to address the problems they cause for residents and tenants alike. I am pleased that Alex Cunningham MP is taking action on this issue.”

The Government’s attempt to repeal new planning legislation follows their decision in June to scrap the National Register of Landlords, which allowed tenants to make basic checks on prospective landlords and local authorities to better enforce lettings rules, the legal requirement for a written tenancy agreement, and the regulation of letting and management agents.  All of these pieces of legislation were brought in earlier this year by the Labour Government to protect tenants and communities from rogue landlords.