Labour pledge to crackdown on bad landlords
The Labour party has promised a 'consumer rights revolution' which will introduce legal minimum standards for all rental homes in a crackdown on bad landlords.
Shadow housing secretary John Healey said the plans will empower renters to call time on bad landlords' by setting standards to ensure homes are 'fit for human habitation'.
The proposals include requirements for safe wiring and appliances, freedom from damp and vermin infestation, 'appropriate' water and sewage facilities, appropriate facilities for preparing and cooking food, and general good repair.
He 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.”
He said most landlords provided decent homes, but rogue operators were “ripping off both renters and the taxpayer by making billions from rent and housing benefit letting out substandard homes”.
The party would also introduce new powers for councils to license landlords and penalise rule-breakers with 'tough' fines.
It cites the example of Labour-run Newham Council in east London, where landlords paid £150 per property for a five-year licence and faced fines of up to £20,000 if they failed to do so.
But Tory housing minister Gavin Barwell said the licensing scheme amounted to a 'tenants' tax' which would compel landlords to push up rents to meet the cost.
He said: "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."
Research by Shelter in 2014 found that six in 10 renters had experienced problems over the past 12 months related to damp, mould, leaking roofs or windows, electrical hazards, animal infestations, or gas leaks.
Labour's housing pledges were announced alongside its own analysis which it said showed the cost of England's 1.3 million sub-standard private rented properties.
According to new research by the Labour party, renters in England are paying £800m every month to live in homes that are classified as 'non-decent' by the government.
It found that 400,000 families with children are among those living in 1.3m substandard private rented properties with problems including unsafe wiring, severe damp and vermin infestation.