Labour pledges 'tougher' standards for rented houses

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Electrical wires sticking out of a wallImage source, Getty Images
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The proposals include requirements for safe wiring and appliances

Labour has promised a "consumer rights revolution" for renters in England if it wins the general election, with the introduction of new legal standards for rented homes.

Landlords who fail to meet the "tougher" minimum standards would face fines of up to £100,000, Labour said.

The proposals include requirements for safe wiring and appliances, freedom from damp and general good repair.

But the Conservatives said the plan could increase people's rent.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said the proposals would empower renters to "call time on bad landlords" by setting standards to ensure homes were "fit for human habitation".

The party would also introduce new powers for councils to license landlords and fine those who break the rules.

It cited the example of Labour-run Newham Council in east London, where landlords pay £150 per property for a five-year licence and are fined up to £20,000 if they fail to do so.

Mr Healey said: "Our homes are at the centre of our lives, but at the moment renters too often don't have basic consumer rights that we take for granted in other areas.

"In practice, you have fewer rights renting a family home than you do buying a fridge-freezer.

"As a result, too many are forced to put up with unacceptable, unfit and downright dangerous housing."

Labour said its own analysis, based on the 2014 English Housing Survey, showed that tenants in England were spending £800m a month - or £9.6bn a year - on homes the government classes as "non-decent".

About a quarter of this, £2.3bn a year, was paid by housing benefit, the party said.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Labour said it would introduce new powers for councils to license landlords

Mr Healey said the introduction of "proper minimum standards" would put renters "back in control".

"Most landlords provide decent homes that tenants are happy with, but these rogue landlords are ripping off both renters and the taxpayer by making billions from rent and housing benefit letting out sub-standard homes," he said.

"After seven years of failure the Conservatives have no plan to fix the housing crisis."

But Conservative housing minister Gavin Barwell said licensing landlords would hit renters because the cost of the licences would be passed on in higher rent.

Mr Barwell said: "This is just another misjudged and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn idea: a town hall 'tenants' tax' that would hit every tenant in the pocket with higher rents.

"We want to help people have good quality housing, which is why we have taken targeted action against the small minority of rogue landlords, without hitting every single home with expensive municipal red tape that will force up costs and reduce supply."