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House of Lords
Written Questions

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government have no plans to introduce a mandatory register of residential letting agents.

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People living in private rented homes should be treated fairly and honestly, but we want to avoid excessive red tape that would push up the cost of rents and reduce choice for tenants. That is why we have strongly backed industry-led schemes such as SafeAgent, which allows landlords and tenants to identify trusted agents, and to vote with their feet when looking to let or rent a property.

Letting agents are already subject to consumer protection legislation, and any tenants who have suffered from poor practice should report the problem to the local trading standards officer at their local authority.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to exempt (1) Broad Rental Market Areas, or (2) local authority areas, from the 1% limit on uprating local housing allowance in 2014-15 and 2015-16.[HL5246]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): As part of the decision to generally limit increases in local housing allowance to 1% in 2014-15 and 2015-16, the Government have set aside £140 million over two years to help people most affected by these new limits.

Our intention is that this funding will be used to increase the local housing allowance rates in areas where rent increases are causing a shortage of affordable accommodation.

This funding is not available until 2014-15 and further information will be made available later this year.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty's Government what source of information about market rents the Department for Work and Pensions will use to determine those areas which will be exempt from the 1% limit on uprating local housing allowance in 2014-15 and 2015-16.[HL5247]

Lord Freud: When we determine the areas to be exempt from the 1% uprating cap on local housing allowance in 2014-15 and 2015-16, we will consider the best and most timely evidence on market rents. This will include annual market data collected by the rent officer services.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 30 October 2012 (WA 120), what assessment they have made of the accuracy of the figures given by One Housing Group as reflecting the views of residents on the Barkantine, Kingsbridge, Samuda and St John's estates in relation to the proposed closure of Island Homes.[HL5249]

Baroness Hanham: The decision on whether to give consent to a merger between private registered providers of social housing is a matter for the Homes and Communities Agency. It considers the level and quality

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of consultation with tenants as part of its decision-making process. On the evidence available to it in the case of the merger of Island Homes with One Housing Group it was satisfied that tenants had been given opportunities to have their say.