Labour’s shadow housing minister Lucy Powell (pictured) has warned private landlords that her party would put them under greater scrutiny to ensure their properties are up to scratch should her party win power at the next election.
Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester, Powell said landlords who housed housing benefit claimants should not simply be given rental income “with no strings attached”, adding that the Labour Party was considering action to address this.
“On housing benefits, we spend a huge amount every year, most of which goes to the private rented sector, and we ask nothing in return from that money,” she said.
“We are going to be looking at tenants in the private rental sector. There is a lot more we can do about landlord licensing and landlord registration schemes.”
Powell, who took over as shadow housing secretary from Thangam Debbonaire earlier this year, is in favour of secure tenancies for life and creating more powers over HMOs and told the Commons in her first speech in the post that the government’s housing policies had failed.
“Now, more people are living in expensive poor-quality rented housing, subsidised by a soaring housing benefit bill,” said Powell.
A spokesperson for the National Residential Landlords Association says all private rented housing should be safe for tenants and meet all legally required standards, irrespective of whether a tenant is in receipt of benefits.
He tells LandlordZONE: “The fact remains that councils are struggling to make use of the wide range of powers they already have to tackle the minority of landlords who provide sub-standard housing and tarnish the reputation of the majority of responsible landlords.
“The key is enforcement. Simply coming up with new ways of developing lists of landlords does nothing to find those criminal landlords who will never come forward to make themselves known.”