A Conservative MP claims there is a major power imbalance between tenants and landlords and widespread reforms are required to stop renters being ‘left out on a limb’ because of poor property conditions.
Jo Gideon, Tory MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, says in a report by think-tank UK Onward that there are three areas of improvement urgently required.“First, we must ensure that adequate housing standards and living conditions are applied to the private rented accommodation, in the same way they currently apply to social housing” she says.
Gideon suggests this could take the form of a housing MOT that assesses the quality of private rental sector accommodation and stops poor landlords “shirking their responsibilities.”Secondly she says landlords should be required to join a local accreditation scheme.
“Currently, around 500 landlords in Stoke-on-Trent are part of the local accreditation scheme, but this represents a small proportion of the overall sector. The scheme needs teeth to encourage better management, quality and supply of housing in the sector.”
Thirdly, she says the imbalance between renters and landlords in general should be addressed.
“On the one hand, many renters do not complain of poor living conditions out of fear of eviction. On the other hand, landlords need the power to acquire their property in the event of a bad tenant. The upcoming [Renters’ Reform Bill] must get the balance right for both renters and landlords and not tip too far in favour of one or the other.”
In her contribution to a roundtable hosted by the think-tank – alongside campaigning charity Shelter – Gideon says one of the housing issues in her constituency is what she calls ”absentee landlords.”
She adds: “The problem is that some of those landlords do not provide housing that is decent or fit for purpose. Much is old or in poor condition, and problems are often not dealt with quickly, leaving renters out on a limb. The upcoming Renters’ Reform Bill provides an opportunity to make a series of fundamental changes to fix these problems – and give my constituents a secure place to live.”