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.”