POLITICS

New 'Housing Court' Could Settle Disputes In Wake Of Grenfell Failures - Sajid Javid

Communities Secretary said dealing with Grenfell tragedy 'has been the most moving experience of my life.'

01/10/2017 16:07 BST
BEN STANSALL via Getty Images
Communities and Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid delivers a speech on the first day of the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre

Sajid Javid branded the fact millions cannot get on the housing market a “national outrage” as he announced a raft of new measures to protect tenants.

The Government will consult on a new ‘Housing Court’ while all landlords will have to sign up to a new arbitration scheme, the Communities Secretary revealed as he slammed the “horrific tragedy” of Grenfell Tower.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Javid also set out new measures to encourage landlords to offer renters minimum 12-month tenancies. 

He said the Grenfell tenants who raised concerns that the building was a fire hazard should have been listened to, adding: “It is now over three months since Grenfell Tower was destroyed.

“But our shock at what the families suffered remains just as strong. We will not rest until justice is secured for the victims.

“And we must make sure that nothing like this can ever happen again.

“I have listened to so many agonising stories from those who lost their loved ones that night or barely escaped with their own lives. It has been the most moving experience of my life.”

He went on to say all letting agents would be regulated and all landlords would be mandated to sign up to the new redress scheme, while the new Housing Court would mean tenants could “get faster, more effective, justice”.

He said: “This will mean that every tenant has the security of knowing that if they’re mistreated, or reasonable standards aren’t met, they’ll have somewhere to go.

“Somewhere with the power to put it right.”

Eddie Keogh / Reuters
The burnt out remains of the Grenfell apartment tower is seen in North Kensington, London

He went on: “All landlords should be offering tenancies of at least 12 months for those who want them.

“And they shouldn’t be able to remove tenants when they have done nothing wrong without giving at least three months’ notice.” 

He said incentives would be set out in the autumn budget, before adding: “Renters, just like homeowners, should be able to feel secure in their own home.”

Javid made no mention of Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey’s demand for a £1.1bn “post-Grenfell rescue package” for social housing, but said: “We have to face a hard fact. The barriers stopping young people from owning their own home will not be fixed overnight.

“In the last 20 years the private rented sector has more than doubled in size. And young people are three times as likely to be renting.” 

PA Wire/PA Images
Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip arrive for the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Central Convention Complex in Manchester.

He also pledged more house-building ahead of an announcement expected by Theresa May to pump an extra £10bn for the Help to Buy scheme. 

It is expected the money will let another 135,000 people get on the property ladder.

The extra cash will help buyers get a mortgage with a deposit of as little as 5% to buy newly built homes.

Javid said: “For my generation home ownership was something that, if you worked hard enough, you could afford. It was something you could earn. An opportunity available to everyone, from every background.

“Like my parents, when they moved to the UK, who bought their first home for just £500.

“For too many growing up today things are very different. Walk down any high street and you’ll see young people with their faces pressed against an estate agent’s window. Trying, and failing, to find a home they can afford.

“For them, increasingly, a house seems like something that you have to inherit.

The opportunity my generation took for granted now seems lost to many. This is a national outrage.”