Andy Burnham calls on ministers to back new deal protecting all renters from poor living conditions

Andy Burnham has been looking to secure additional funding for workers hit by Tier 3 measures.
Andy Burnham hopes the package will provide tenants with the confidence to request property checks. Credit: PA Images

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham is calling on the Government to support the region in introducing a new deal for renters which protects them from poor living conditions.

The deal would allow councils to step in and acquire properties from landlords who are unable or unwilling to meet decent living standards – allowing tenants to feel empowered and protected.

It is hoped that the new set of measures, which would be implemented by autumn 2024, will put an end to public money subsidising non-decent homes.

It would also allow the city-region to introduce the Greater Manchester's Good Landlord Charter, which allows the city-region bring all rented homes up to the decent homes standard, regardless of whether they are socially rented homes or the private rented sector.

It's hoped the city-region’s net-zero and technical education ambitions to be boosted though plan. Credit: PA Images

Speaking at the Housing 2023 conference in Manchester on Tuesday 27 June, the Greater Manchester Mayor said: “Our national mission should be to give all people a good, secure home.

"It is a simple fact that you cannot achieve anything else in life without that foundation beneath you.

"You cannot level up any part of the UK when half of its housing stock is falling down and damaging the health of the people who live inside.

“And to those who ask whether it is affordable? It is our failure to provide it that leads to the waste of billions of public money dealing with social crises that come from the lack of it. Good housing is true prevention.

”Personally, I believe we will only get the sea change on housing that we need when we make a good, safe, secure home a human right in UK law.

“That change would require action on many more levels – including much great focus on the state of the existing housing stock and the urgent need to build hundreds of thousands of homes for social rent."

Andy Burnham is encouraging landlords and Ministers to support this vision. Credit: PA Images

Mr Burnham continued to say that the region aims to use the powers it has in its Trailblazer Devolution deal to "set ourselves a 15-year new mission for Greater Manchester: a healthy home for all by 2038".

He added: “In simple terms, that means a home that doesn’t damage your physical health through damp, mould and other physical hazards and doesn’t harm your mental health because you live in fear of eviction.

“To achieve this, we are proposing a complete re-wiring of the system to put power in the hands of tenants – but, in doing so, make it work better for everyone: tenants, landlords and local communities.”

Data published in June 2023 by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show that in 2019 almost 12 per cent homes in Greater Manchester had a category one health and safety hazard – the most serious category where a hazard poses a serious risk of harm.

While over 17 per cent of homes in the region did not meet the current decent homes standard.

In the private rented sector, these figures rise to more than 15 per cent with a category one hazard, and over 26 per cent that would not meet the decent homes standard. This is equivalent to around 50,000 homes. 

However these numbers – based on DLUHC modelling – may not reflect the true scale of the problem.

If implemented it is hoped the the new set of tools would build upon the government's Renters Reform Bill by:

  • Introducing a package of UK-leading tenant protection measures

  • Having a Greater Manchester Property Check’ inspection regime of rented properties

  • Enabling the ability to create a ‘Property Improvement Plan’ for every rented home, giving landlords a tailored blueprint of to get each of their properties up to the decent homes standard and beyond, including connecting them to funding and skilled contractors who can get the work done

  • Giving the city-region the powers to acquire properties from landlords who are unable or unwilling to meet standards, ensuring poor landlords exit the sector while retaining and improving their properties for local residents

  • Enhanced enforcement teams within councils with the powers to protect tenants if they have problems with their landlord or home

  • A universal, mandatory Property Portal or register of landlords – a measure proposed within the Renters Reform Bill

Mr Burnham said that with the funding, these powers would ensure that every renter within the city-region would live in a home that is safe, secure, affordable, healthy and environmentally sustainable.