GREATER Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is setting up a “rogue landlord hub” to help improve standards in private renting within the city region.
The move, announced by GM Mayor Andy Burnham and his housing lead, Paul Dennett, follows the allocation of £128,000 from the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG).
The hub will target landlords and letting agents who flout the law through bad management or by housing tenants in neglected and unsafe homes.
“The majority of landlords in Greater Manchester provide decent homes and abide the law, but with this funding GMCA will be able to more easily bring negligent landlords to task,” said GM Mayor, Andy Burnham.
Dennett, the Mayor of Salford, who serves as GMCA’s portfolio lead for housing, homelessness and infrastructure, added: “Everyone has the right to live in a home that is safe and secure, and it is vital we crack down on the small minority of landlords who are causing serious harm and dragging our communities down.
“There is some excellent work going on within individual districts, and through this hub we’ll pool best practice and resources to drive improvements for both tenants and landlords across the whole of Greater Manchester.”
According to the GMCA, the rogue landlord hub will work to improve information sharing and enable collaboration across Greater Manchester’s districts. It will also develop and share best practice and information to provide a “more consistent approach” across the city-region.
Furthermore, it will provide advanced training for frontline officers to help bring more illegal landlords to justice through the courts, and deliver communications campaigns targeted at both tenants and landlords.
The scheme will initially run for three months across all boroughs of Greater Manchester and the results will be used to shape future initiatives that will continue to crack down on rogue landlords.
One of the hub’s first tasks will be to promote the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which comes into effect this month.
The legislation is designed to make sure that rented houses and flats are ‘fit for human habitation’, which means that they are safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm. If rented houses and flats are not ‘fit for human habitation’, tenants can take their landlords to court, but of course they need to know they now have this right.
The court can make the landlord carry out repairs or put right health and safety problems. It can also make the landlord pay compensation to the tenant. The new law is in addition to councils’ existing enforcement powers including Civil Penalties and Improvement Notices and Rent Repayment Orders.
Burnham added: “The establishment of this hub is just the starting point for a wave of activity we’re planning to improve Greater Manchester’s private renting offer – for both tenants and landlords. We’re also exploring options for an ethical lettings agency and working up a scheme designed to showcase the region’s good landlords and call out the bad.
“We’re determined to get renting right, improve relations between tenants and landlords, prevent tenants from reaching crisis point or becoming homeless, and oust the minority of private landlords causing tremendous harm to vulnerable people and local communities.
“Private rented eviction is one of the biggest problems and we need to put a stop ‘no-fault’ evictions. With more and more households becoming homeless due to being evicted from a private tenancy, it’s important we support new safeguards to protect tenants.”