Property groups have welcomed Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s new initiative to drive up housing standards in the city region.
Mr Burnham has shared the first details of his Good Landlord Charter, an aaccreditation scheme aimed at helping renters find tenants who meet certain standards. It would be the first scheme of its kind in the UK. The Manchester Evening News is reporting that the scheme is voluntary but the mayor wants to force landlords who receive housing benefits to sign up.
Mr Burnham wants all renters in Greater Manchester to have a ‘right’ to have their properties checked – and wants all tenants in private rented, council, social and temporary housing to be offered this service free of charge.
Backers, including a landlord lobby group, also want accreditation to the charter to come at no cost, though it is now yet confirmed how the scheme will be funded.
Government figures released last year showed that in 2019, more than 26% of private rented homes in Greater Manchester failed to meet the decent homes standard. A survey of tenants, has now found that three-quarters say an accreditation scheme would help.
Mr Burnham wants the scheme up and running by the summer. He said: “I hope 2024 will go down as the year that Greater Manchester got serious about housing.
“We’ve had a housing crisis for at least 10 years and probably longer. Where’s the response?
“The truth of the matter is I don’t see it. I don’t think as a country we’ve risen to this crisis.”
Speaking to the media on Monday morning (January 8), the mayor said the ‘shockwaves’ of two-year-old Awaab Ishak’s death due to damp in a Rochdale flat has driven him to bring the charter forward faster. Greater Manchester Housing Providers chair Charlie Norman said Awaab’s tragic death has spurred social housing providers to act too.
The National Residential Landlords Association, which represents 100,000 landlords across the country, has also backed the scheme. However, director of policy and campaigns Chris Norris said much more needs to be done.
He said: “There simply isn’t enough housing to meet demand. This will not be a solution to all of the problems.”
Mr Norris said that the scheme will attract good landlords who ‘want to get things right’ by offering them support and advice. Mr Burnham said that other incentives could be offered to landlords such as funding to retrofit homes.
The UK Apartment Association (UKAA) has also welcomed the charter. The association is working on a code of practice for the build to rent (BTR) sector, which is set to go live this year.
UKAA CEO Brendan Geraghty said: “We wholeheartedly welcome the opportunity to consult on the market-leading Good Landlord Charter in Greater Manchester. The Charter is excellent news for both landlords and renters in the Manchester city region and the UKAA looks forward to responding accordingly on behalf of our members.”
Dougie Orton-Wade, chair of the UKAA North West Hub, added: “The Manchester Good Landlord Charter has the potential to protect renters in the area, as well as to support those landlords who are providing an excellent rental experience. We welcome the principles of the Charter and hope that, along with the UKAA Code of Practice, it can serve as an inspiration for other regions around the UK.”
Representatives from the Greater Manchester Tenants Union, who have worked with the mayor on the charter, said that the scheme is a ‘huge step forward’ in driving up standards in social housing as well as privately rented homes. However, they said that other measures will need to be introduced nationally to tackle the housing crisis properly.
A seven-week public consultation on the Good Landlord Charter proposals has now started. To respond to the consultation online or download a copy of the consultation document, visit the website at www.gmconsult.org.