Corbyn tried to pass law to make homes safe last year – the Conservatives rejected it

Jeremy Corbyn tried to pass through a law that would required private landlords to make their homes safe and “fit for human habitation” last year – but it was rejected by the Conservatives.

Labour proposed an amendment to the Government’s new Housing and Planning Bill – a raft of new laws aimed at reforming housing law – in January last year, but it was rejected by 312 votes to 219.

Although the law doesn’t directly pertain to the tower, it did highlight fundamental flaws in Britain’s rental sector, such as the ones outlined by residents of the tower in the months and years leading up to the event.

According to Parliament’s register of interests, 72 of the MPs who voted against the amendment were themselves landlords who derive an income from a property.

The amendment will surely now be scrutinised after a London fire in the 27-storey residential Grenfell Tower in North Kensington claimed a number of lives and resulted in multiple casualties.

Residents had previously complained that only a catastrophic event would expose the ineptitude and incompetence of the landlord and “bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders”.

Teresa Pearce, the shadow housing minister who proposed the amendment in January 2016, said at the time that renters lacked “basic consumer protection” when things went wrong.

“The majority of landlords let property which is and remains in a decent standard. Many landlords go out of their way to ensure that even the slightest safety hazard is sorted quickly and efficiently,” she said.
“So it is even more distressing when we see reports of homes which are frankly unfit for human habitation being let, often at obscene prices.

“Where else in modern day life could someone get away with this? It’s a consumer issue. If I purchased a mobile phone or a computer that didn’t work, didn’t do what it said it would or was unsafe I would take it back and get a refund.”

The Government claimed the new law would result in “unnecessary regulation”.

 

66 Responses

  1. Dominique Payne

    .
    Via Aglaé Brazenor
    This post was just sent out for anyone wanting to help

    CALLING ALL LONDONERS!
    Anyone who is near Latimer Road and is able to help and assist in any way, please do!
    Due to the engulfment of the inferno in Grenfell Tower, Latimer Road, W11 1TG, people have been left with no clothes, food, homes and memories being burnt to ashes.

    HELP/ DROP OFF POINTS:

    RUGBY PORTBELLO TRUST
    221 Walmer Road,
    W11 4EY

    ST CLEMENT’S CHURCH
    95 Sirdar Road,
    W11 4EQ

    TABERNACLE CHRISTIAN CENTRE
    Jubilee House,
    210 Latimer Road,
    W10 6QY

    OVER 2000 PEOPLE HAVE LOST THEIR HOMES

    Via Richard Harrold
    https://www.gofundme.com/support-grenfell-tower-fire-victims

    1. Jeremy Marshall

      from Facebook:
      Pls divert all donations for Grenfell Tower Residents to
      Westway Sports Centre
      1 Crowthorne Rd
      London
      W10 6RP
      There are large queues and lots of media at the centres previously being shared and they are no longer accepting donations.

  2. Dave

    Is this REALLY the time to be playing politics ! .???

    Please don’t bother putting me on any email list I will just junk it.

    1. DC

      This is exactly the time to talk about it. In the past we would hide the issue for a later date, accepting the unacceptable because to discuss the issue would be seen as disrespectful. These tragic event may not have happened had the law been passed, and hiding behind people’s deaths to avoid discussing the issue is, in my opinion a greater dishonour than actually talking about the issue.

      1. SF

        It’s essential that we talk about this now, because it’s not just a random accident that couldn’t be prevented. It should have been prevented.
        Conservatives:
        — put off a fire review of safety blocks
        –blocked decent habitation legislation
        –cut firefighters and fire stations,
        –cut council funding which they could use for enforcing fire legislation.
        Whether this would have happened anyway would be impossible to say, but the risk should have been much, much lower.
        Now is the time to stop the next tragedy. And there will more tragedies as long as the government continues to put cost-cutting and politics ahead of the safety of its citizens

      2. Rb

        I completely agree with you. We should necer forget that these flats were approved and built while a labour government was in power, they were happy to build shoddy housing knowing that to make buildings safe at a later date costs many times more han doing it during building. Im sure corbyn will be remindibg us how he tried to make rented housing safe during Blairs multiple terms in power, and Labour didnt listen.

        1. Davey

          Wow so according to you it was the labour government who built these flats? I guess that explains where they were going at the end of parliament each day, collect hi viz and trowel you numpty

          1. Gaby

            They are suicidal thickos – cannot remember the investment was private and the tower was renovated last year with HIGHLY FLAMMABLE CLADDING to save the landlord renovating of the facade every 10 or so years. You are ruled by a pack of murderers so their coalitions with NI terrorists shouldn’t shock anyone.

        2. Martinmac

          when the flats were built the breaches in the firewalls for pipes and cables were properly fire-stopped, the outer walls were not covered in a “low” flammable foam. it appears the fire stopping was removed during the “refurbishment” evidently what was put back was not very efficient. the architects were responsible for the design of the tower blocks in the 60’s and 70’s. when people moved in from the slums they thought they were the best thing since sliced bread. they were quick to build and were very efficient at replacing bombed out buildings. you have to remember in the 50’s and 60’s there was a lot of very poor housing which had to be demolished

        3. Mia

          These flats have stood a long time and were built before current health and safety standards were devised or applied. It is their lack of maintenance bringing them up to current standards, or demolishment and replacement, whichever would be most suitable, which is the issue. There is a housing crisis in this country – not just due to a shortage of affordable accommodation, but also due to rented accommodation in substandard conditions.

        4. EMc

          They were built in the 70’s, design was concrete blocks with concrete between each floor. they were basic but fire was contained. It is the modern upgrading with modern materials and budget constraint that have basically caused this. The cost being the bottom line, not the safety..Apparently there is documentation and proof of the shoddiness of recent work as reported by the residents to the landlords.

      3. Nicky

        Well said. What happened to “We’re all in it together”? It’s a joke. I’m sure that none of the mp’s who voted against the law would live in sub-standard accommodation.
        My heart goes out to those affected by this tragedy.

    2. Nathan

      You’re right. It should be ignored until we have enough distance that we can forget this ever happened. Then we can allow the government to help create or prolong the conditions for an awful tragedy like this to happen again. Because telling people ‘now is not the time’ is also playing politics. In fact it’s the Number 1 response from the NRA whenever there is a mass shooting in the States.

    3. Julian

      When the residents of Grenfell Tower have been raising issues of fire safety with the landlords and the council for many years and when the government have failed to review fire safety standards for 8 years after the Lakanal fire, then yes, it is the time to be playing politics. I think RBKC and KCTMO are going to find pretty quickly that it is a game they are going to lose.

    4. It’s not about Politics its about exposing greedy self serving Tories who, because they’re either Landlords themselves or are beholden to others who are Landlords, chose to block a perfectly reasonable bill designed to help protect human lives.

    5. Mark B

      It’s exactly the time to be scrutinising cause and effect to ensure no further tragedies occur. I’ve conducted fire safety surveys for many properties and I can’t stress enough how lax the standards are.

    6. Ryan

      The most disrespectful thing you could do is fail to make sure this never happens again. Then these people truly died for nothing.

    7. dylans

      A little over a year after the government vote down legislation to make homes safer because “it would involve unnecessary regulations” Of course now is the time to ask questions. If not now then when?

  3. “72 of the MPs who voted against the amendment were themselves landlords who derive an income from a property.”

    Just for the sake of balance, how many MPs who voted for the amendment were landlords?

    1. Paul

      Fair point. Waiting for a reply on this one. There will then come the argument between reputable vs disreputable landlords but still interested to see a response on this.

    2. AndyC

      And ho many of the 72 were Tories? We’re assuming they were all Tories, but according to the figures I can see, there are 50 Labour MPs who are Landlords, including the sainted Emily Thornberry.

      1. Grant west

        In the only article I’ve seen that showed the split only Conservative MP’s voted against the bill, so the labour ones voted for it.

    3. Jim

      I always thought that MP’s had to declare any conflict of interests when it came to voting. Has that changed now, or does it only apply in local government?

      1. Chris

        The Tories have awarded most of the contracts to run our prisons to G4S . Mays husband is a major share holder in G4S

  4. Dunno what the quasi political point you’re trying to make is, but the block is approx. 85% owned by the council. In other words, it is council housing, not private landlords. So the legislation you’re quoting would not have any impact whatsoever.

    1. Robert Darnell (Bobby)

      Finally someone ‘Freddie Nichols’ pointed the only fact out that is relevant to this story & tragedy… In my mind there is a time and place for politics not when people are dead from an ongoing accident or as they lie dying in hospital. What to expect from an the article writer is obviously a #Corbyn #Labour supporter that loves propaganda, ironic as its almost a Rupert Murdoch style approach.

  5. Are you inferring that all MPs are property owners profiting by exploiting the rental market? Or that all Landlords have to be corrupt!
    Perhaps any MP who was a Landlord should have declared an interest and not voted?

    1. leo

      the 72 tory mp’s who are “landlords” have declared that they are so…and yet they were still allowed to vote (against the proposal/amendments), when there is a clear conflict of interest. why was/is that allowed to happen?

  6. Michael Botterill

    The bodies are still being recovered and you are making political capital out of this, that’s just low.

    And for the record, this housing scheme was a social housing scheme and would not have been covered by the amendment, as it’s already subject to some pretty strict regulations.

    If corners were cut then the persons responsible at the council and the arms length management company ought to be brought up on manslaughter charges.

  7. Micky

    These flats are housing association so it would’ve made no difference in this case it’s just another pro corbyn piece of propaganda

    1. Francis

      Whether the are housing association is irrelevant. A persons or organisations providing habitation would have had a duty to comply with the legislation in place.

  8. Tallulah

    The questions of how it happened , what made is spread so quickly. why fire alarms were not heard by many needs urgent investigation and if it is that legislation allowed poor safety precautions in a multi-storey building then this is an issue. It is not to my mind playing politics to remind us that there is an issue of very unsafe homes let by landlords, that questions were raised with a view to legislate improvements and more people voted against the amendments than for it.. and just like the IRAQ war, with hindsight they may have not acted in the best way. Thoughts with all those impacted . let us come together as a nation and help to comfort support and allow these poor families to get back on their feet .

  9. Caroline Breslin

    This is Political!!! Everything is political because every aspect of our life’s are decided by these supposed servants of the people.. this should not have happened.. no inquiries as only those in positions of power profit from inquiries, inquiries are like the UN they have no teeth they cannot order the arrest of those responsible and very very often they serve those in power to sweep the truth under the rug. These people deserve justice!!!

  10. Rob

    The average quality of living standards in the UK is abysmal. I honestly don’t understand how we are so behind so many countries across the ‘first’ world.

    OF course this awful situation could have been avoided. I’m disgusted that there are people in power here who would actively sabotage the lives of others. What a dreadful mindset.

  11. Matt

    This is evil.. the fires not even died down fully and you want to use it to score political points! With a distortion no less! The legislation was not directly related to fire safety. Fire legislation already exists which seems to have been ignored by the private landlord, non political individuals in the council are responsible for checking this things not central government.

    Corbyn was also talking about private landlords and this is housing association so completely unrelated. Just poor journalism. People sharing this and using it for political point scoring as scum sorry.

    1. goat

      Housing association is still private, it’s a private company, owned mainly by tories who would have bought them when Thatcher sold off council housing.

    2. GM

      Well said Matt totally agree and since the flats were run to provide accommodation for the council surely this is a case of point the finger and theres always 3 pointing back!!!!! Since the council would ultimately have had to fund the improvements. Wonder how many 10 pound smoke alarms they gave out if they were that concerned !!

      1. harriet

        yes but whilst the council is strapped for cash to keep the social services going and the education because they have had to face cuts…….
        so GM where was the money|?

  12. Susan Leonard

    Surely such rejection by the Conservative MPs is a total conflict of interest. They now have an awful lot to answer for.

  13. Adrian Stern

    All high-rise offices have sprinkler systems – as do industrial buildings in general
    We know that high-rise flats should have them too
    Why don’t they?
    I don’t care who built them, who owns them now or who manages them. the question is why do they not have sprinkler systems?

  14. Graham

    This is a twisted left wing propaganda that is using a tragic event for political gain, sickening to see this site has stooped to such insensitive lows to score a few political points… I will make just one –

    This is a council owned and run building and has nothing whatsoever to do with regulation and legislation around private landlords, to put an article that attempts to make links between this tragic event and recent voting down of amendments to private landlords bill for political gain is deeply worrying to see, your just as bad as the far right in my opinion if not worse for using such low disgusting tactics.

    It say in the top corner of this page ‘click to fight fake news’ yet when you do this insensitive ill conceived and misleading article still remains, maybe you need to take a deep look at yourself when trying to clamp down on fake news!!!!!

  15. Owen

    Jack – why are you trying to make political mileage out of this fatal fire by overlaying a headline about a proposed amendment that even if implemented would have made no difference to the situation ?

    As you say – let’s scrutinise that proposed amendment, it amended the landlord and tenant act 1985, which specifically lists the tests for habitation – fire safety is not one of them so the implementation of the amendment would have made no difference.

    It would be legitimate to point out that the government has been dragging it’s feet in reviewing and implementing the results of the 2013 coroner’s inquest report following the 2009 Lakanal fire – a review which could update standards in all tenure types of high-rise dwellings.

    It would also be legitimate to ask why different social providers are taking such completely different approaches to the retro-fitting of sprinkler systems.
    http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/which-councils-are-retrofitting-high-rises-with-sprinklers/7010543.article

    It would be legitimate to ask why even Southwark council where the Lakanal fire occurred are not fitting sprinkler systems to all their high rise dwellings, and are only going to complete fitting LD2 coverage fire alarms to all their properties over the next 10-15 years.
    http://moderngov.southwark.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?AIId=31022

    It would also be legitimate to ask why the recently introduced fire alarm requirements do NOT apply to social housing providers – when all private landlords have been required to do so since 2015.
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords/the-smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarm-england-regulations-2015-qa-booklet-for-the-private-rented-sector-landlords-and-tenants

    It would be legitimate to ask if it is appropriate for council housing that the local authority has a conflict of interest by being both the landlord and the enforcement authority for housing defects.

    Returning to the existing housing law and proposed amendment your headline refers to, there are already extensive powers under the 2004 housing act (put into effect by a labour government) which give local authorities the power to inspect properties for just about any hazardous defect you can think of, and if they are serious to require the landlord to make improvements, and if the landlord fails to do so they can be convicted of an offence and given an unlimited fine
    http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN01917

    In discussing the proposed amendment the proposer, the shadow housing minister (Teresa Pearce) did say “I agree that many local councils have the powers, but they have depleted members of staff able to inspect properties.”
    https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160112/debtext/160112-0003.htm

    ..and by proposing “basic consumer protection” for renters the day-to-day effect would have been to move enforcement from under resourced housing departments (who have the specialist knowledge), to the even less resourced trading standards departments who have less specialist knowledge.

    So I put it to you that there is already plenty of law to require homes to be safe, so both the proposed amendment, and your photo and headline today are more about political point scoring than improving safety standards – because if improving safety standards was the aim, then the focus should be on adequately resourcing enforcement – having common standards for the private and social sector – and providing local authority tenants with truly independent safety assessments of their homes.

  16. Kb

    Almost everyone is asking why this fire spread so quickly, when the landlord was warned should a fire start the place would burn down, mean that the landlords, the governments, and the council has ignored the tennants because they are poor. I hope this be a lesson to everyone who is in charge to listen and keep a check on unscropulus housing managements.

  17. [email protected]

    It’s a housing association block, mainly council and comes under council housing. It had millions of pounds spent on it last year.. We don’t know what the cause was yet but doesn’t sound like it’s lack of money, the whole block was completely refurbished last year and it’s been suggested that the cladding which has come under suspicion was put on to ease the effect of the new academy and leisure centre which were built nearby. Nobody knows what the cause was yet but seems as if flammable material may have been used under the new cladding which would make the fire spread very quickly as it would have a chimney effect. However, we’ve been hearing that the fire may have started with a fridge ‘exploding’ on the. 4th floor, which doesn’t seem to tally with the fire running up the side which we could see. Does appear, though that fire risks were a concern that had been raised also the fire drill. Maybe, despite the amount being spent, some corners were cut in refurbishment. Will only really know when forensic evidence comes out.

  18. Owen

    The Labour MP that introduced the bill said during the course of debate

    “It does not introduce any new standards or new obligations on landlords. The requirement for properties to be free of category 1 hazards is already in the Housing Act 2004.”

    Hence part of the reason for the government voting it down as unnecessary legislation.

    If you read the debate in full, the correct political point that should be being made is about cuts to local authority funding which means they are failing to carry out the existing legal DUTIES.

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2015-10-16/debates/15101634000003/Homes(FitnessForHumanHabitation)Bill

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