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Kingston MP James Berry votes against Housing Bill but ensures students are safe from rogue landlords

By Christopher Weedon Feb 4, 2016

Kingston and Surbiton MP, James Berry, has voted against a parliamentary clause that would force landlords to ensure their properties are sufficiently inhabitable for tenants.

On Tuesday January 12 Mr Berry opposed amendment 52 in the Labour Housing bill, which was defeated by a majority of 312 votes to 219.

He said: “I support a registrar so that good and bad landlords can easily be identified by Kingston council’s potential tenants.

“While there is a great deal of scaremongering about the housing bill, it plans to crack down on rogue landlords and build more homes to help all tenants.”

Kingston has become one of the top ten most expensive boroughs to live in Central London and Mr Berry understood the difficulties KU students experience with housing.

Mr Berry voted against the clause because councils already have enough powers to enforce against rogue landlords.

But he accordingly said that the bill is not open to exploitation because councils will be able to introduce banning orders and heavier fines.

“All homes should be of a decent standard, and all tenants should have a safe place in which to live regardless of tenure,” he said.

In light of the bill being defeated, KU students are still vulnerable of being unfortunate victims of rogue landlords.

Final year Film Studies student, Tom Ritter, said the current housing situation at his house in Surbiton was “bad”, and that Mr Berry’s actions were “absolutely stupid”.

He has not seen or met any of the recent and previous landlords before and since moving into the property one year ago.

Ritter said:“I signed a contract with the old landlord’s husband and this year it has been moved onto a different landlord, none of who I have met at all or seen.”

He said that he and his housemates had issues with simple things and that the property was not suitable to live in from the start.

“The simple fact is that it is not kept up at all well in short, and the landlords should have to keep it up, things like the gas, electric and the insulation.”

He also described the “shoddy” conditions of seeing holes in kitchen cupboards and walls of the house.

Being a private landlord, Mr Berry advised students to choose landlords who are accredited through the Mayor of London’s, London Rental Standard, and reading a ‘How to Rent Guide’ making tenants aware of their rights.

Commenting on when a property becomes “uninhabitable” he said: “A landlord has certain responsibilities towards his or her tenants, around gas and electrical safety, and fire alarm and extinguisher safety, which needs to be considered.”

The housing bill itself is expected to boost house building and home ownership to keep up-to-date with London’s growing population, which are currently both at crisis levels.

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