Private landlords should come under stricter controls of local councils to raise the living standards of tenants, argues local government think tank.
Too much bureaucracy in central government is stopping councils from acting against bad landlords, says the joint report published by the Local Government Intelligence Unit (LGiU) and the Electrical Safety Council (ESC).
Both organisations claim living conditions in private rented homes lag those in social housing and owner occupation.
They quote recent official figures that reckon 35% of private rented properties fail the government’s minimum decent homes standard.
To try to improve standards, the report calls for:
- New housing laws so councils can licence private rented homes that offer low living standards
- More powers for councils to recover the costs of enforcing housing laws from bad landlords
- Giving councils the choice to make accreditation for landlords compulsory
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, claims safety standards are too lax and allow landlords to let property in a poor condition.
“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.”
The LGiU offers councils on policy and research consultancy, while the Electrical Safety Council is a charity promoting the safer use of electricity.