The Bishop of Chelmsford received the following written answers on 5th September 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford asked Her Majesty’s Government when they plan to publish a response to their consultation Improving the energy performance of privately rented homes, which closed on 8 January 2021.
Lord Callanan (Con): We have carefully analysed the responses received to the consultation on Improving the energy performance of privately rented homes, and we will publish a Government Response in due course.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on (1) household energy bills, (2) UK gas consumption, and (3) carbon emissions, of raising Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in private rented homes to Energy Performance Certificate Band C.
Lord Callanan (Con): In the consultation on improving the energy efficiency performance of privately rented homes in England and Wales, the preferred policy proposal would deliver energy bill savings of £220 a year on average by 2028. It would lower energy demand on the grid and support the transition to low-carbon heating, delivering ~6.1 MtCO2e of savings for Carbon Budget 5. These figures were published in the consultation, thus the energy bill savings do not reflect the current energy prices.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford asked Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the number of private renters who receive housing benefit and (1) qualify for the £650 support grant, and (2) do not qualify for the £650 support grant.
Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con): No assessment has been made.
However, the vast majority of people receiving Housing Benefit will be in receipt of another qualifying benefit for the Cost-of-Living Payment.
To support people who need additional help, the Government is providing an extra £500 million of local support. In England this will be via the Household Support Fund, which will be extended from this October to March 2023 backed by £421m.
The Household Support Fund helps those in most need with payments towards the rising cost of food, energy, and water bills.
The government will issue additional guidance to Local Authorities to ensure support is targeted towards those most in need of support including those not eligible for the Cost-of-Living Payments set out on 26 May 2022. Guidance for local authorities on how to distribute the fund will be released soon.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford asked Her Majesty’s Government how many county court judgements there have been for private renters for non-payment of arrears, each year for the past five years, across England and Wales.
Lord Bellamy (Con): A landlord of a privately rented property may apply to the court either as part of an application seeking repossession of the property, or separately to eviction action, for a county court judgement seeking repayment of rent arrears from their tenant.
Our case management systems do not record what a judgement debt relates to, this information is only recorded in the particulars of claim which would require manual reviewing of court files to extract and as such could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Published quarterly statistics on volumes of county court judgements can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/civil-justice-statistics-quarterly#2022(opens in a new tab)
Published quarterly statistics on possession volumes can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/mortgage-and-landlord-possession-statistics(opens in a new tab)
At the onset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Government took unprecedented action to protect tenants from eviction resulting in the majority of possession claims being stayed until 20 September 2020. This meant that possession claims could not progress through the court process including hearings and enforcement action by way of evictions. Since the lifting of the stay, private rented possession claims have largely returned to pre-covid volumes, but social landlord possession claims remain supressed and are currently sitting at around 60% of their pre-covid volumes.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford asked Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of how many private renters will not receive the one-off £150 energy rebate payment because the rebate money is paid directly to their landlord and not to the tenant.
Lord Harrington of Watford (Con): Councils are expected to pay the council tax rebate to the occupants of an eligible property, not the landlord. Where a landlord of an eligible property usually pays the council tax as part of the rental agreement, the Government has asked councils to agree a payment method directly with the tenant.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that, with the removal of section 21 evictions in the upcoming Renters Reform Bill, private renters are not forced out of their homes as a result of unaffordable rent increases.
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con): In the Renters Reform Bill, we will introduce additional protections for tenants against unfair rent increases, while ensuring landlords can continue to make necessary changes to rent. We will allow increases to rent once per year in line with current legislation and will increase the minimum notice landlords must provide of any change in rent to two months. We will end the use of rent review clauses, preventing tenants being locked into automatic rent increases that are vague or may exceed market prices. We are clear that attempts to evict tenants through unreasonable rent increases are unacceptable. We will make sure that tenants have the confidence to challenge unfair rent increases through the First-tier Tribunal. We will prevent the Tribunal increasing rent beyond the amount landlords initially asked for when they proposed a rent increase.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford asked Her Majesty’s Government whether, under the proposed changes to possession in the Renters’ Reform Bill, renters can be evicted every eight months with the new grounds due to no fault of their own.
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con): The Government is committed to delivering a fairer and more effective rental market that works for both tenants and landlords. We will deliver the manifesto commitment to end Section 21 evictions; this will mean that a landlord will only be able to evict their tenants in specific circumstances defined in law and they must be prepared to provide evidence of this in court. Under our proposals, landlords will be able to get possession of their properties when they need to, these reforms will include mandatory grounds for if a landlord wishes to sell or move into the property with two months’ notice periods. To protect tenants’ security, landlords will not be able to use these grounds in the first six months of a tenancy. Our reforms strike the right balance between improving security for tenants and ensuring landlords continue to feel confident in the market.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford asked Her Majesty’s Government whether the upcoming Renter’s Reform Bill will include a cost cap for bringing homes up to the Decent Homes Standard, like there is with the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard.
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con): We are continuing to develop the policy on introducing a decent homes standard in the private rented sector and will consider the potential for cost caps as part of our consultation and engagement with stakeholders.