Landlords allow 1m buy to lets to fail decent homes standards

Landlords allow more than a million buy to let properties fall short of the government’s decent homes standard and councils should have more powers to improve conditions for tenants, says a new think tank report. The report, by the Local Government Intelligence Unit (LGiU) and the charity the Electrical Safety Council (ESC), alleges 35% of England’s 3.9 million buy to let homes have poor living standards. To bring them up to the same standard as social housing or privately owned homes, the report argues, councils should have more powers to regulate landlords. Cutting central government bureaucracy and giving councils more responsibility to act against bad landlords would tackle the problem, claims the report. To do this, the government should:

  • Change housing laws to let councils licence private rented homes that are in a poor state
  • Give councils extra powers to recoup the costs of enforcing housing laws from landlords
  • Let councils choose to introduce compulsory accreditation for landlords

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the LGiU, said: “The massive growth of the private rented sector presents a variety of challenges. While most private rented properties meet appropriate standards, a minority of landlords actively pursue criminal activity to the detriment of those living in their properties. “Councils can play a key role in tackling poor standards in the private rented sector, but to do this effectively, they must be freed from central government red tape. There is no one-size-fits-all model. Rather, local authorities must be given the freedom and capacity to respond to the needs and issues in their areas.” Phil Buckle, director general of the ESC, complained landlords are neglecting safety regulations that safeguard tenants. “It’s recognised that electrical accidents cause over half of domestic fires, landlords are not required to have the electrics in their rented properties checked – or provide tenants with safety certificates,” said Buckle. “While we would like to see additional safety requirements for private rented homes at a national level, we wholeheartedly support empowering local councils to address the safety of housing in their areas.”

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