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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Private sector tenants let down by both Tories and Labour

So much for the new compassionate Conservatism. Today's Independent reports on the views of one Tory MP, who is also a landlord, that a proposed law that would require landlords to make homes fit for human habitation would be an unnecessary regulatory burden.

Phillip Davies is of course right when he says that the overwhelming majority of landlords want to do the right thing, wouldn’t ever dream of renting out a property that isn’t in a fit state to be rented out and want to comply with every regulation that’s introduced. However the reality is very different:

Research by the charity Citizens Advice published in May found that tenants in the private sector spend £5.6bn in rent every year to live in homes that can make them sick or kill them.

An inquiry by the charity found 740,000 privately rented homes across England contain serious risks to health including severe damp, rat infestations, and risks of explosion.

“Rogue landlords are putting profits before safety,” Gillian Guy, the chief executive of the organisation, warned at the time.

“With a growing private rental sector, increasing numbers of people – including more than 500,000 children – are falling prey to landlords who fail to meet decent standards.

Privately rented accommodation was in a significantly worse state to council and housing association property.

Sixteen per cent of all privately rented homes were found to physically unsafe, compared to just six per cent in the socially rented sector.

Eight per cent of private homes were found to have serious damp, which can contribute to chronic illnesses such as bronchitis, eczema, and asthma.

Six per cent were excessively cold and ten per cent risked a risk of dangerous fall; both of these factors present significant hazards for elderly people.

And it is not just the Conservatives who are letting down tenants. Here in Wales a Labour Government has passed one substantial piece of housing legislation and is currently halfway through delivering a second. However, in both cases they have strenuously resisted attempts to introduce a higher standard for what is considered fitness for human habitation.

Regulations that will raise standards will not impact on the good landlords, they are already doing what is necessary. But they will benefit many thousands of private sector tenants who are living in sub-standard accomodation. This legislation is urgently needed.
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