The days of unscrupulous landlords thinking they are untouchable are over, you will be held to account and if you sit outside there will be consequences

The words of Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham as he launched earlier today the start of a consultation on Greater Manchester’s Landlord Charter

Inspired by the Finnish model of Housing First which pits the provision of housing top of the list of social expectation,Burnham believes a similar policy would solve so many other social problems

Despite a decade long housing crisis,he believes Westminster has done little to address the problem and wants Greater Manchester to pick up the baton with the charter the first step on the region’s journey

It is estimated that a quarter of private landlords across the region fall in the category of bad landlords and whilst there are many good landlords trying their best,there is no way at present for the public to differentiate between the two categories

In 2019, according to Government data, almost 12 percent of all homes in Greater Manchester had a category one hazard – this means a serious and immediate risk to a person’s health and safety – and over 17 percent did not meet the current Decent Homes Standard. In the private rented sector, 15 percent of homes had a serious health and safety hazard and over 26 percent are non-decent.

The Charter sets out a vision of better renting, which meets the following characteristics:

  • Affordable – a tenant should understand how their rent and other charges are set and should not be ripped-off.
  • Inclusive – a tenant should not have a worse renting experience because of who they are.
  • Private and secure – a tenant should be reasonably free to enjoy their home and make it their own.
  • Responsive – a landlord should respond satisfactorily to requests for repairs, correspondence and complaints.
  • Safe and decent – a tenant should be able to live free from physical or psychological discomfort in their home.
  • Supportive – a tenant should have essential information about renting their home and be helped to access extra support if they need it.
  • Well managed – a landlord should be competent or use a competent managing agent.

Research commissioned as part of the development of the Good Landlord Charter found that over three quarters of private tenants say accreditation would make a difference to their likelihood of renting from a particular landlord.

The survey also revealed that three-quarters of private tenants experienced a maintenance issue in their property within the last year, including two in five that have experienced damp and mould and nearly one in three a broken boiler or heating. When maintenance problems have been experienced, two in five private tenants have been left dissatisfied with the outcome.

Residents living in properties where the landlord refuses to engage with local bodies or the Charter will be empowered with the right to request a Greater Manchester Property Check.

To critics that a volunteer scheme will have little statutory bite,Burnham points to the success of the region’s employment charter which has seen for example all bus franchise operators join, meaning that all bus drivers are now guaranteed sick
The region has received £2m from central Government and has found a further £1.5m in the coffers towards enforcement and 25 enforcement officers have been taken on
The Mayor would like to go further and the region’s latest devolution settlement could give scope for a link between the paying of housing benefit and the state of the property that it relates to,the days of Post Box landlords buying up whole streets in the 1980’s are long gone
The consultation opens today and will run for seven weeks with the aim for a  launch in the summer if Burnham wins May’s Mayoral election and is part of a major long term drive to improve housing standards.
Mark Slater, Chair, Rochdale Branch, Greater Manchester Tenants Union, said:

“The Good Landlord Charter can be one of the tools we use in Greater Manchester to drive up standards in all forms of housing. Starting with the principle that charter members must go further than their legal requirements to be considered, this can help those landlords who provide a good service and quality homes to distinguish themselves from the many careless and rogue private landlords.

“The scope of the charter has been expanded to ensure housing associations, councils, and temporary and specialist accommodation providers deliver appropriate standards in their homes, prompted by the preventable death of Awaab Ishak.

“We are pleased that Andy Burnham and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority are committed to improving enforcement action across the region which is desperately needed. We need to get serious about tackling the housing crisis, and ensuring tenants can live in decent, safe secure homes they can afford, and are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of who their landlord is, and what type of home they live in.”


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