Mayor launches £600k initiative to uplift housing standards in Greater Manchester and combat rogue landlords

Date published: 17 May 2024

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has announced plans to improve Rochdale and Greater Manchester housing standards, after it emerged that over 50,000 private-rented homes in Greater Manchester do not meet the legal Decent Homes Standard.

The new pilot, he says, will be the start of a new £600,000 programme of measures to help private renters who feel trapped in substandard accommodation.

The focus will include clamping down on rogue landlords as part of a “rewire” of the rental system, so that it works more for people, rather than against them.

Data shows that, throughout Greater Manchester, around 23 percent (56,000) of private rented homes and just under 17 percent (82,000) of all rented homes do not meet the legal Decent Homes Standard.

But since many tenants feel unable to raise complaints for fear of eviction, it’s thought the true number of substandard rentals may be as high as 40 percent.

The Good Landlord Charter, launching later this year, aims to collaborate with landlords committed to improving their rental property standards. As the first initiative of its kind in the UK, it will apply to both social and private rented housing, establishing clear, practical, and accessible standards to enhance rental quality in Greater Manchester.

For tenants with uncooperative landlords, Mr Burnham will introduce the Property Check scheme, also a UK first. This program empowers tenants to request a property inspection by local teams, with follow-up enforcement action if needed, helping those who feel trapped by substandard housing conditions.

The pilot of the Property Check scheme is taking place in partnership with Salford City Council and central government to explore how these checks can be used effectively and proactively and help identify properties that fall short of the Decent Homes Standard – a legal requirement when the Renters (Reform) Bill comes into law later this year.

A recent survey of private tenants in Greater Manchester found that in the past year:

  • 43 percent of private tenants had experienced damp and mould.
  • 31 percent had been without hot water or central heating.
  • 20 percent had experienced broken electrics.
  • 20 percent were living in a property with a leaky roof.
  • 12 percent were living with a pest infestation.

The mayor will be asking the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to support the delivery of property checks. Fire crews already visit around 30,000 homes a year, providing fire safety checks and work is under way to explore how they could deploy property checks as part of their work with our communities.

To drive forward Greater Manchester’s plans to tackle the housing crisis, the mayor has announced two other new pilot projects that will come into effect in the next 12 months, supporting the implementation of the Good Landlord Charter and the vision to become the UK’s first Housing First city-region.

One of the other pilots will ‘set up a new team of housing law experts’ who will ‘provide advocacy and support to renters and strengthen enforcement capacity’ in order to ‘intervene when people are at risk of harassment and illegal eviction’.

The final pilot, in Oldham, will work out ‘how the GMCA, central government and local councils can work together to claim back housing benefit from landlords letting out substandard homes’.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Today we drive forward the next phase of Greater Manchester’s mission to tackle the housing crisis and get serious about housing standards.

“Everyone across our city-region deserves a good, safe, and secure home. It should be the starting point for a good life. It should not damage your health or be a source of concern and anxiety.

“Sadly, too many people in Greater Manchester still find themselves in those situations, trapped in poorly maintained properties and in fear of unlawful eviction. But the days of bad landlords renting out unsafe and unfit homes are coming to an end.

“This new right to a property check for all residents, backed up with new measures to protect renters and take action against rogue landlords, will empower people across Greater Manchester and put us on course to become the UK’s only Housing First city-region.”

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