The private rental sector has yet again become something of a political football as you might have expected in the run-up to the general election. Research by the Labour Party suggests that “rogue landlords” are raking in £800 million a month from tenants living in dirty and dangerous homes. When you bear in mind the number of new regulations brought in over the last decade it is rather alarming to find so many homes allegedly “substandard”. So, what else is the Labour Party proposing in relation to rogue landlords?
We all know there are “rogue landlords” in the private rental market many of whom will overload their properties, offer minimal maintenance and simply rake in both private money and taxpayer housing benefit money. It has to be said that the number of so-called rogue landlords is decreasing but perhaps not at a rate which is acceptable to the masses. The main problem surrounding this issue is the fact that tenants very often have nowhere to go so they are forced to put up with any accommodation.
Jeremy Corbyn quite rightly states that you have fewer rights renting a family home than you do buying a new fridge freezer. Initial plans would be to bring in rules which would ensure all homes are safely wired, free from damp and in general good repair. The problem here is that many councils across the UK already have the power to search private landlord accommodation and indeed tenants can report their landlords if they see fit.
Rental market continues to grow
It is rather alarming that there would appear to be 1.3 million substandard private rented properties across the UK which house 400,000 families with children. Indeed official figures suggest that tenants are spending £9.6 billion a year on housing which is classed as “non-decent” by the UK government. If this really is the case, and the figures do backup the argument, then why has nothing been done so far?
Many will be surprised to learn there are no minimum standards in the private rental sector and while two Labour’s proposals include a fines system of up to £10,000 and a hotline for tenants to receive free advice, surely we need to go back to the drawing board? All landlords need to be made aware of their obligations and the potential penalties should they refuse to abide by “minimum standards”.
The Labour Party is correct
Many issues have been discussed with regards to the UK private rental sector one of which was the refusal of the Tory party to pass a new law introducing a minimum standard for private rental accommodation. If the Tory party really is looking to protect tenants going forward then why would they not pass something as simple as a minimum standard regulation?
In some ways you could argue that the UK government has a conflict of interest because it is earning so much money from buy to let investors after the introduction of various new taxes. However, surely the government has an obligation to private rental tenants and also the use of significant taxpayer housing benefit to fund many of these arrangements?