Labour vows to “put bad landlords out of business” with new plans

Sienna Rodgers

Labour has vowed to “put bad landlords out of business” with fresh plans for housing that will see private sector renters offered new rights and a national ‘property MOT’ introduced.

Announcing the set of policies on Monday, Jeremy Corbyn and John Healey will explain that a Labour government would require landlords to complete an independent annual inspection.

The move would ensure homes meet a decent standard, with “dodgy landlords” having to pay tough fines of up to £100,000 for a single offence and even repay rent to tenants if the let property is sub-standard or rules are broken.

Landlords would need to possess a valid ‘MOT’ before letting out a home. The inspections would be conducted independently, with local councils acting as enforcement authorities.

The Labour leader and Shadow Housing Secretary are also expected to outline how they want to empower tenants and local authorities with a new ‘charter of renters’ rights’.

The charter will be based on the following:

  • The right to an affordable rented home.
  • The right to a secure rented home.
  • The right to a decent rented home.

“Labour will be on the side of tenants and take on dodgy landlords who have been given free rein for too long,” Corbyn commented. “Real change means taking on those who exploit the housing crisis to charge eye-watering rents for substandard accommodation. 

“Labour will put power in the hands of tenants with our new charter of renters’ rights, a cap on private rents and funding for renters unions to support tenants to organise and defend their right to safe and secure housing.”

To make private rented sector homes more affordable, Labour intends to cap rents with inflation and – as called for by London mayor Sadiq Khan – give additional powers to cities that could implement further rent controls.

Local housing allowance rates, used to determine the amount of housing benefit or Universal Credit housing element received by tenants renting from private landlords, would also increase under Labour’s plans.

To boost security for both tenants and landlords who want to let their properties long-term, Labour favours open-ended tenancies. These limit the reasons for which a tenant can be evicted to non-payment of rent or criminal behaviour in the property, for example.

Labour would scrap ‘Section 21’ notices, known as ‘no fault’ evictions, which the Conservative Party has also included in its manifesto after Theresa May announced the proposed abolition in April.

To be considered “decent”, homes should meet the current statutory minimum standard for housing, be in a reasonable state of repair, have reasonably modern facilities and services, and provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

Healey, Labour’s housing spokesperson, said: “The power imbalance in the private rental market is at the heart of our housing crisis, with rents eating up too much of people’s pay, tenants afraid of eviction if they report problems, and families with children forced to uproot their lives at short notice.

“Many landlords provide decent homes that tenants are happy with, but the Conservatives have gifted rogue landlords the freedom to flourish. Labour will put bad landlords out of business.

“Labour will legislate in year one for a new charter of renters’ rights, with open-ended tenancies, new minimum standards and rent controls to make renting more affordable. We will make private renting a better option for all.”

According to new research by Labour, tenants collectively pay over £10bn a year in rent to landlords letting out sub-standard homes. A quarter of private rented homes are classed as ‘non-decent’, which means they are damp, cold, in disrepair or unsafe to live in.

One in four families with children now rent privately, Labour has found, and 1.7 million private renters pay more than a third of their income in rents. The private rented sector has grown by over one million households since the Tories took power in 2010.

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