With general election campaigning in full swing, all eyes are on the property market as owners and renters alike await news about how the next government intends to ensure more available housing.
According to recent news, Labour has promised tougher minimum standards would be applied to rented homes if they were to win the election in June. This is following a string of reports of poor housing in the rental market – but due to a desperate shortage in housing supply, renters continue to be forced to live in substandard conditions.
Labour’s research has revealed that tenants in England spend around £9.6bn per year on homes that the government recognises to be unacceptable, unfit, substandard and even in some cases hazardous to health.
Labour promises that landlords failing to toe the line could face fines of up to £100,000. This would mean that properties with unsafe wiring and appliances, damp and general disrepair could soon become a thing of the past, ensuring homes become instead fit for human habitation.
The party plans to devolve powers to local councils, who would be able to step in and implement fines for unacceptable living conditions. In London, Newham Council already operates a licencing scheme with landlords. A charge of £150 is payable by landlords, per property, for a five year licence. They are fined up to £20,000 for failing to get a licence. This is generally considered to be a major part of a housing overhaul, concentrating on putting renters’ rights high on the agenda.
The Conservatives’ reply is the concern of cost. Tougher regulations relating to safety would only lead to a hike in rent, they say. And, with around a quarter of England’s “unfit” accommodation bill being met by housing benefit, Conservatives predict that this will either lead to an increase in the cost to the government, or it will force people out of their homes.
Of course, the aim is to address rogue landlords and improve housing conditions. More needs to be done to ensure tenants are being treated fairly. Whoever wins the election will have a tough job on their hands to ensure the rights to acceptable living accommodation is top priority and how they plan to tackle those who break the law.
If you are a homeowner or a landlord and you have any questions relating to an existing or a pending property purchase, then why not contact our expert lawyers at DMH Stallard’s legal team to see how we can help?