Labour calls for landlords licensing scheme to end 'unfit' housing
Labour has said it would introduce tougher minimum standards for rented housing and “call time on bad landlords” if it wins the upcoming general election.
Councils would be empowered to license landlords and fine those who fail to meet the requirements under Labour’s plans.
Among the legally enforceable standards are a duty for safe wiring, no damp, good piping, and general good repair.
The party cited figures from 2014 showing tenants in England were paying £800m per month to live in houses that were classified by the Government as “non-decent”.
Shadow Housing Minister John Healey said: “Our homes are at the centre of our lives, but at the moment renters too often don't have basic consumer rights that we take for granted in other areas.
“In practice, you have fewer rights renting a family home than you do buying a fridge-freezer.
“As a result, too many are forced to put up with unacceptable, unfit and downright dangerous housing.”
Conservative Housing Minister Gavin Barwell described the idea as “misjudged and nonsensical”.
“[A licensing scheme would be] a town hall 'tenants tax' that would hit every tenant in the pocket with higher rents,” he added.
“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.”
Meanwhile, two Commons select committees have published a report today urging the Government to rethink its proposed shake-up of funding for those living in supported housing.
Ministers have consulted on linking supported housing rates to the levels of Local Housing Allowance in the private sector.
Supported housing covers specialist accommodation for elderly and disabled people.
The Work and Pensions Committee and Communities and Local Government Committee warned the Government’s plans could have a negative impact on the sector.
“We support the Government’s aims to reform funding for this vital sector to ensure quality and value for money, protect and boost supply, and provide greater local control,” said Tory MP Richard Graham, who co-chaired the inquiry.
“But we are concerned that the proposals, as they stand, are unlikely to achieve these objectives.”
Labour MP Helen Hayes, the other co-chair, added: “The proposals have caused considerable concern. Supported housing providers are reconsidering investment plans, shortfalls in the levels of service are expected to get substantially worse and vulnerable tenants are anxious that they may no longer have the guarantee of a home for life.
“Ministers must intervene immediately by scrapping the proposed Local Housing Allowance reform. The sector needs a far more suitable funding system that recognises the consistent cost of provision across the country and provides long term reliability.”
Mr Healey said the report proved that the Government’s plans “spell disaster, and a Conservative vote on June 8 will be a vote to shut vital housing for the elderly, armed forces veterans, people with disabilities and those who are homeless”.