Calls for tougher powers to force rogue landlords to improve private housing, plus better rights for tenants, have been made by Norwich campaigners.

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The Green Party in the city is urging housing minister Grant Shapps to undertake an urgent review of UK housing laws following the long-term difficulties encountered by tenants at Earlham House, in Earlham Road.

The group has started a petition calling for people privately renting to be given protection “worthy of a 21st century developed nation”.

They add issues that need urgently addressing include: a lack of security for tenants; a lack of rent controls; and ensuring there is a legal duty for tenants to be re-housed while improvement work enforced by councils is carried out and the costs are paid back by the landlord.

Forty people at Earlham House were given two months to leave their properties from their next rent date in June, to allow new owner Bellgold Properties to take possession of the flats.

Bellgold, which purchased the freehold to the site last year, followed the current positions outlined in law when carrying out this process. Norwich City Council has also been trying to secure improvements for the flats for several years.

Claire Stephenson, Green Party city council group leader, said the existing laws were not helpful to people who rented a place for a long time. She said: “There’s no difference between whether you want to rent somewhere for one year or 10 years. There’s no security.”

Simon Wright, Norwich South MP, said he fully supported calls for the rights of private rental tenants to be improved. But he said better use of inspection powers and prosecutions for failing to follow enforcement notices could improve the situation in the near future.

To sign the petition visit: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35341

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