Manchester City council says it has some ‘deep seated’ concerns over the quality of rented housing in some parts of the city and is now planning to adopt a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to improve landlord behaviour.
As reported in the Manchester Evening News by Jennifer Williams, Manchester City Hall bosses are to launch a radical ‘zero tolerance’ crackdown on slum landlords, but at the same time potentially giving a tax break to the good ones.
As part of the region’s Devolution Agreement*, agreed last year with Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, the council is considering asking the government for new powers to give good, accredited landlords a tax break – and take tougher action on the bad ones.
Manchester wants to introduce ‘tailored’ powers to deal with the ‘small number’ of rogue landlords within the city, arguing it is currently restricted by a one-size-fits-all approach from central government.
The council wants to retain money it collects in fines from landlords found to have broken the law, instead of handing it over to the Treasury.
The council is not discounting the possibility of entering the rental market itself in the private rented sector (PRS) in a move to ensure rented houses and flats are decent quality and well-managed.
Ruling out the path many other councils have gone down by introducing licensing, which is says is very expensive and produces ‘mixed’ results, the council plans to introduce a ‘rental pledge’ that will spell out the expectations of both the industry and tenants – a measure which has been introduced in Liverpool and London.
Manchester’s planned strategy aims to support growth in the city’s private rental sector, with 55,000 new homes created in the last 13 years, but remains concerned about the market’s image which is ‘fragile’ with much good work ‘undone by a few rogue landlords and letting agents’.
The crackdown will in particular target landlords, agents and neighbourhoods’ where there is a growing number of a flats above shops, and council concerns over living conditions within them.
Rusholme and the student heartlands of Fallowfield and Withington have been pointed out as particular blackspots.
The council will support landlords and agents by offering industry accreditation and training to repeat offenders – but at the same time send out a ‘tough’ enforcement message in a ‘zero tolerance’ approach.
To maximise the impact of limited resources the council is looking to work closely with letting industry bodies and other agencies to focus on problem neighbourhoods.
*Greater Manchester Agreement: Devolution to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and
transition to a directly elected Mayor.
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