Labour denounces 'puny' £4 million fund to tackle law-breaking landlords

3 January 2020, 08:51

John Healey criticised the "puny" fund set up by the Tories
John Healey criticised the "puny" fund set up by the Tories. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey has criticised the government's "puny" £4 million fund to tackle rogue landlords.

Labour has called the planned fund "a drop in the ocean" in comparison to cuts made since the Tories came to power in 2010.

Boris Johnson's government has awarded more than 100 local authorities across England a share of the pot to crack down on criminal landlords and letting agents.

The funding for the scheme was first announced in November and it will tackle landlords who disregard the law by offering inadequate or unsafe housing.

Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, said the fund will "deliver a better deal for renters."

"It's completely unacceptable that a minority of unscrupulous landlords continue to break the law and provide homes which fall short of the standards we rightly expect - making lives difficult for hard-working tenants who just want to get on with their lives," he added.

Mr Jenrick said the fund will "deliver a better deal for renters"
Mr Jenrick said the fund will "deliver a better deal for renters". Picture: PA

"Everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe and secure, and the funding announced today will strengthen councils' powers to crack down on poor landlords and drive up standards in the private rented sector for renters across the country."

However, Mr Healey criticised the plans, suggesting the money would not go far enough in tackling the issue.

"This puny commitment is a drop in the ocean compared to the cuts that councils have faced since 2010," he said.

"The truth is that the Conservatives have gifted rogue landlords the freedom to flourish by cutting council budgets, weakening their powers and refusing to legislate to drive up standards.

"Renters need a new legal charter of rights with longer tenancies, new minimum standards and rent controls to make renting more affordable."

Darren Rodwell, the Local Government Association's housing spokesperson, greeted the funding but suggested councils need greater powers to tackle rogue landlords.

The housing fund was welcomed by the LGA housing spokesperson
The housing fund was welcomed by the LGA housing spokesperson. Picture: PA

He said: "Councils are doing what they can to raise standards in the private rented sector and are taking action where required, and it is important to note that most landlords are responsible and provide decent housing for their tenants.

"However this is being undermined by the small minority of landlords who exploit loopholes with no regard to their responsibilities.

"Councils want to work with the Government to raise standards in the private rented sector, and could do more if they were given the right tools, like greater freedom to establish local licensing schemes for landlords."

Councils will also use the money to advise tenants of their housing rights.

A total of 22 councils across Yorkshire and the Humber will receive money to train more than 100 enforcement officers.

Meanwhile, in Northampton, a special operations unit will be established and in Thurrock, Essex, vulnerable young tenants will be offered supplementary support and care services.

There will also be a pilot scheme set up in Greenwich, south London, to identify "particularly cold homes."