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Labour hopeful wants more licensing, rent controls and landlord buy-outs

Former shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham - now Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester - has outlined a string of controversial lettings sector policies he wants to introduce if he is elected.

In a lengthy article in the social housing sector publication Inside Housing, Burnham - himself a private landlord - makes a series of swipes at the private rented sector’s standards.

“The scourge of absent, private landlords bedevils much of Greater Manchester – particularly the older mill towns across its northern arc. Many never visit our area and don’t care about the state of the properties they rent out. They only care about the rent cheques they keep raking in” he says. 

Blaming Conservatives since Margaret Thatcher for a series of policies which have led to the current housing crisis, Burnham then outlines a series of his objectives. 

Firstly, he says a small proportion of new homes built in Greater Manchester under his leadership will be designated Rent To Own, available on a long-term lease to under 35s.

Secondly, he will establish a Community Buy-Back Fund “providing loan finance to councils to buy out private landlords who fail to maintain properties to the Decent Homes Standard.” Burnham says this will rapidly increase the size of the public sector housing stock, will reduce rents to an affordable level, and will cut the housing benefit bill. 

Thirdly, and most controversially, he says: “I will establish a licensing scheme for private landlords across Greater Manchester and, in the long term, seek powers to regulate rent increases and property standards.”

  • Mark Wilson

    What a joy, more regulation! On the QT has anyone told Andy about the chaos caused by rent controls AKA the Rent Act 1977?

  • John Ahmed

    Andy is talking rubbish.
    Personally i am sick of politicians with no sensible agenda or policies jumping on the private rental sector....all they ever do is look for controversy to push self promotion. There are a lot of really important issues to cover, but nothing is thought through thoroughly unless it promotes self interest.

  • Anonymous Coward

    I think it would be an absolute disaster.

    But it would be a fantastic experiment and economists could pore over the data for generations to come. It'll be known as the "Burnham Rent Control Catastrophe" or some such.

    It would be one of the final nails in the coffin for government meddling in the private sector.

    I'm all for it - Go, Andy. Go!

    BTW - Living in the South means that this wouldn't affect me in the slightest. It would never work down here, too many of those absent landlords he talks about live down here and anyone proposing such a silly idea down here would be tarred and feathered before they could actually say "Rent Control".

  • Julian Bishop

    "They only care about the rent cheques they keep raking in"
    To be blunt, isn't that the idea of investing in property?

    Just another attempt by an MP to increase popularity focusing on an easy target. The usual BS too

  • Spencer Fortag

    It would be a bigger shock if an MP came out with an idea that made sense or could help the housing market. Really we need a housing minister support/advisory role, held by someone with extensive property/agency experience not by a privileged member of the upper classes who has never done a days work.

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    A lot of posh people own a lot of housing. they tend to employ estate managers who know the job.

     
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    I was once working in Bulgaria. I asked why the houses were so scruffy ad unkempt. Surely, even in a communist state, it was possible to find a can of paint every four or five years. They only had four colours to choose from.
    The reply was unexpected. "Are you mad?" The explanation was that any house that looked smart was likely to compulsory purchased on the grounds that it was wanted for a childrens' home or some such. Once purchased it would lie empty for some time and then sold ---- to a council and party member! The house was surplus to requirement.

    I can understand compulsory purchase for big amenity projects but it is asking for a lot of trouble if we let 'odd' in any sense councils buy properties on a whim of superiority.

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