Propertymark has given its backing to a clampdown by Housing Secretary Michael Gove on private landlords - although landlords themselves appear distinctly unenthusiastic.
The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has revealed overnight that £14m is to be given to seven areas with high numbers of poor privately rented homes “to crack down on rogue landlords and test new approaches to driving up standards.”
Projects include £2.3m for Greater Manchester – including Rochdale and surrounding councils - to increase the use of fines where a landlord is found to have committed an offence; £678,000 for Leeds to use behavioural science to change culture among landlords, improving knowledge and skills; and £1.14m for Cornwall to create a database of private rented accommodation in the area and record standards to target better enforcement action.
In parallel Gove announced that he would be withholding certain public funding from social landlords not deemed to have their homes at an appropriate standard, especially relating to damp and mould.
Landlords commenting on our sister publication, Landlord Today, took a highly critical view of Gove’s approach but Propertymark has backed the idea of additional funding to help councils improve their enforcement of poor quality privately rented homes.
Propertymark chief executive Nathan Emerson says: “A lack of enforcement and the low number of private rented property inspections by local authorities undermines the current regulatory regime. It’s good news that the Secretary of State is allocating further funding in this area, something we have repeatedly called for.
"Qualified letting agents are well placed to support local authorities in maintaining standards. Independent landlords can tap into their knowledge and understanding of the latest legal requirements for the sector to ensure they comply."
Lisa Nandy MP, Labour's shadow housing and levelling up secretary, has responded to Gove’s announcement by saying it was "right to stand up to failing social landlords" but that there was "no excuse for not showing the same regard for millions of private rented tenants who live in squalid, unsafe conditions and are evicted if they dare to complain".
She is calling for emergency measures to introduce the long-awaited Renters Reform Bill and has herself pledged that a future Labour government would, if elected, bring in a renters' charter that would create a national register of landlords and introduce new legally-binding housing standards for the private rental sector.