My friend and fellow Labour MP Karen Buck currently has two Private Member’s Bills she is trying to get through Parliament.
The first – the Fitness for Human Habitation bill – after several attempts at tabling the bill, has finally received government-backing, meaning it should hopefully become law in due course.
This bill, which would strengthen tenants’ rights and bring us closer to an end for unsafe homes, is absolutely crucial to improve housing standards across the UK and here in Brighton and Hove.
It is well-documented that we have a housing supply crisis, but we also have a housing standards crisis, as thousands of people are living in privately-rented accommodation that is not up to scratch.
From homes that are dangerously cold as a result of poor insulation or faulty heating, to homes riddled with mould and asbestos, to rooms with ceilings barely high enough to stand up in, far too many people are living in conditions that are totally unacceptable.
Housing that doesn’t meet basic health and safety standards, and threatens the wellbeing of its occupants is far too commonplace, and a national scandal, truly illuminated by the devastating Grenfell Tower tragedy.
The other bill my Labour colleague is tabling is the Short and Holiday-Let Accommodation Bill, which if passed would require householders to notify local authorities of an intention to register accommodation for short or holiday lets and for connected purposes.
There are an estimated 800 Airbnb’s in Brighton, and I have had constituents get in touch with me to express their concerns over whole houses becoming unregulated hotels, and noise and safety implications for neighbouring residents in houses of flats for example, as well as to propose the idea of a 90-day limit on Airbnb rentals across the city.
If this bill is passed, it will allow local councils to introduce licensing of Airbnb’s as they do for HMOs (houses in multiple occupation), to ensure those safety and noise concerns can be addressed.
These are two excellent bills that I am actively supporting in Parliament, and if passed into law will achieve a great deal in addressing some of the major housing problems we face nationally and locally.
What is disheartening however, is the route these bills are having to take through parliament.
This Tory government consistently refuses to act to solve our housing issues, so we are forced to rely on private members bills to try and instigate change.
Nonetheless, I will continue to support Karen Buck MP and her bills, and hope my parliamentary colleagues will do the same.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle is the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown.