Combined authority mayor Andy Burnham announces Good Landlord Charter alongside new enforcement measures
Andy Burnham has outlined a tough new carrot-and-stick approach to improving standards for renters, making use of new powers handed down to him under the recent devolution settlement.
Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Housing 2023 conference in Manchester yesterday, the city region’s mayor announced a charter for good landlords alongside measures to take properties off those that consistently fail to bring them up to standard.
Citing the coroners’ ruling on the death of toddler Awaab Ishak from a respiratory condition caused by mould in his Rochdale home, Burnham told the conference that drastic action was needed and set a new 15-year mission for the city – a healthy home for all by 2038.
“In this day and age, in a country as wealthy as ours, a two-year-old boy was killed by his home and that can only be a moral outrage,” said the mayor of Greater Manchester.
“It’s an entirely man-made problem and an indictment of national housing policy under successive governments”.
Burnham said his “integrated, place-based approach” to raising housing standards would be centred around a Good Landlord Charter, set to be launched next year, which will recognise good behaviour to boost tenant confidence.
The charter, which will apply to both private and social landlords, will be underpinned by a property check system, under which tenants can request an independent inspection of their home by an official from the regional authority, who will then present the landlord with a tailored improvement plans to address health hazards.
Universal Credit recipients will be prioritised when the system is first launched, according to Burnham, who said the authority needed to be “realistic that we cannot get around all of Greater Manchester at once”.
Establishment of multi-agency teams from a range of organisations including Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Services.
If landlords fail to sufficiently improve conditions for their tenants, Burnham said he wanted to see enforcement action taken, up to and including repossession of the home by the combined authority.
“If the landlord refuses to engage with the process, we would then look to use the full range of enforcement tools at our disposal and we are looking to parliament to strengthen these as the Renters Reform Bill goes through,” said Burnham.
“Ultimately, if all else failed, we would look to take ownership of the property and would be seeking the help of parliament and the courts to make it easier and less costly for councils to take properties out of the hands of those unscrupulous landlords and into the hands of those who will manage them properly.”
The process will be overseen by new multi-agency teams which will draw on the expertise and powers of a range of organisations including Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Services.
After his speech, Burnham told Housing Today that these teams should have enough enforcement powers to have an impact regardless of the ultimate shape of the Renters Reform Bill.
”I think we have got a package of tools, even within existing legislation, that gives us enough,” he said.
“All agencies have different ways they can intervene, so it is that multi-agency team that is the key thing – you have the weight of them all acting together […] but if the Renters’ Reform Bill came through with our high end of expectations, you could really put the proper backing behind this policy”.