Labour announces rental policy

Published on Mon, 1st May 2017 10:12

Labour has today (May 1st) announced its policy on renting.

And guess what, it proposes more crack down on landlords, with the Shadow Minister (John Healey) saying renters “.. have fewer rights renting a family home than you do buying a fridge freezer.”   He further stated “There are currently no minimum standards in the private rental sector” – presumably forgetting all the rules and regulations brought in since 1985, especially the 2004 Housing Act.


He proposed:-

  • a “consumer rights revolution” to protect renters;
  • rules would ensure homes are safely wired, free from damp and in general good repair;
  • greater support for Licensing, citing Newham;
  • As well as introducing a legal minimum standard and powers for councils, Labour’s five-point plan would include fines of up to £10,000 and a hotline for tenants to receive free advice.
  • Councils could compulsory purchase sub-standard homes as a last resort.

 

Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, responded ‘This is just another misjudged and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn idea: a town hall 'tenants' tax' that would hit every tenant in the pocket with higher rents.

"We want to help people have good quality housing, which is why we have taken targeted action against the small minority of rogue landlords, without hitting every single home with expensive municipal red tape that will force up costs and reduce supply.

"With strong and stable leadership from Theresa May and the Conservatives we can continue that work."

 

SLA comment:-

This statement from John Healey is surprising considering he was actually the Housing Minister under Gordon Brown for two years, and this is his third tenure as Shadow Minister, so he has had plenty of time to do his research.

  • the proposal to ‘increase’ the fine to £10,000 ignores that this Government have given Local Authorities the opportunity to fine landlords up to £30,000; and courts have been given powers for unlimited fines;
  • additionally many offences now carry the penalty of Rent Repayment Orders: whereby landlords can be ordered to pay back the last two years rent;
  • similarly, the current Government have proposed mandatory electrical certificates for all properties;
  • this, in association with HHSRS introduced by a Labour Government appears to already cover his proposals;
  • most Councillors, and Council officials we speak to are not in the business of running rental properties, so the proposal to allow compulsory purchase probably won’t be taken up.  They already have the powers to license a poor property run by a bad manager (normally the landlord).  If the manager doesn’t manage the property appropriately the license can be removed, thus either forcing the property off the market, or getting a better manager.
  • Using licensing this way is far more targeted, not the ‘blunderbuss’ approach being used by many Local Authorities.

 

The SLA do not, and never will condone intentional bad/illegal practice.  We recently wrote to the Conservatives urging them to not ignore the Private Rented Sector.  A copy of the letter can be seen here.