Mayor of Greater Manchester launches consultation on groundbreaking Good Landlord Charter

  • Mayor Andy Burnham to launch consultation on the Greater Manchester Good Landlord Charter  
  • Good Landlord Charter forms a key pillar of Mayor’s new deal for renters, a commitment to improve the renting experience for tenants and drive up housing conditions across the region 
  • Charter will be underpinned by new right for tenants to request a Greater Manchester Property Check 

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham is today launching the consultation on the Greater Manchester Good Landlord Charter. The charter is the first of its kind in the UK, bringing together landlords and renters to improve the standards of homes in social housing and the private rented sector. 

It aims to recognise and develop best practice, boost tenant confidence in the quality of good rental properties and provide an ambitious new voluntary standard for landlord excellence, no matter what kind of housing they let. 

The Good Landlord Charter sets out a vision of better renting, which meets the following characteristics: 

  • Affordable – a tenant should understand how their rent and other charges are set and should not be ripped-off. 
  • Inclusive – a tenant should not have a worse renting experience because of who they are. 
  • Private and secure – a tenant should be reasonably free to enjoy their home and make it their own. 
  • Responsive – a landlord should respond satisfactorily to requests for repairs, correspondence and complaints. 
  • Safe and decent – a tenant should be able to live free from physical or psychological discomfort in their home. 
  • Supportive – a tenant should have essential information about renting their home and be helped to access extra support if they need it. 
  • Well managed – a landlord should be competent or use a competent managing agent. 

The plans for the charter follow a similar model to the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, launched in 2019, which has now engaged with more than a thousand employers across the city-region, helping them go above the bare legal minimum employment offer. The Good Landlord Charter will leverage public funding and other key devolved powers in a similar way. For example, when public bodies are involved in seeking rented homes – such as for use as temporary accommodation – they could require those bidding to sign up to the Charter. 

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I’m clear that driving up the quality of rented housing is one of my key priorities. We know your home has a huge impact on so many aspects of life, from your physical and mental health, to your safety and security.  

“This work has, in part, been driven by the devastating conclusions of the inquest that followed Awaab Ishak’s death. A two-year-old boy died because of the quality of his home, and we recognised this had to be the moment when things changed.  

“Today, I’m calling on all renters and landlords in Greater Manchester to get involved in this consultation. I believe this charter will be good for tenants who currently have no way of knowing whether a landlord is decent or not; and good for the many landlords doing the right thing and struggling to differentiate themselves from the disreputable end of the market. 

“The truth is, when we get housing right, we also potentially save billions in public money currently spent dealing with the social crises that come from poor housing situations.” 

Research commissioned as part of the development of the Good Landlord Charter found that over three quarters of private tenants say accreditation would make a difference to their likelihood of renting from a particular landlord.

The survey also revealed that three-quarters of private tenants experienced a maintenance issue in their property within the last year, including two in five that have experienced damp and mould and nearly one in three a broken boiler or heating. When maintenance problems have been experienced, two in five private tenants have been left dissatisfied with the outcome.

Residents living in properties where the landlord refuses to engage with local bodies or the Charter will be empowered with the right to request a Greater Manchester Property Check. This will be underpinned by stronger, multi-disciplinary inspection and enforcement capability to carry out the checks and issue notices where standards remain unacceptable, with investment of £3.5million to support local authorities to deliver this. 

In Greater Manchester’s private rented sector alone, the Government currently spends more than half a billion pounds annually through the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, with no assurance about the quality of the homes that landlords are providing. When taking into account social housing as well, that number rises to £1.5 billion. 

In 2019, according to Government data, almost 12 percent of all homes in Greater Manchester had a category one hazard – this means a serious and immediate risk to a person’s health and safety – and over 17 percent did not meet the current Decent Homes Standard. In the private rented sector, 15 percent of homes had a serious health and safety hazard and over 26 percent are non-decent.  

Greater Manchester’s Trailblazer devolution deal contains a commitment to work with Government to explore how the welfare, housing and health and social care systems can be reconfigured to help drive improvements to the renting experience and the quality of homes in the private rented sector. 

Mark Slater, Chair, Rochdale Branch, Greater Manchester Tenants Union, said: “The Good Landlord Charter can be one of the tools we use in Greater Manchester to drive up standards in all forms of housing. Starting with the principle that charter members must go further than their legal requirements to be considered, this can help those landlords who provide a good service and quality homes to distinguish themselves from the many careless and rogue private landlords.

“The scope of the charter has been expanded to ensure housing associations, councils, and temporary and specialist accommodation providers deliver appropriate standards in their homes, prompted by the preventable death of Awaab Ishak.

“We are pleased that Andy Burnham and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority are committed to improving enforcement action across the region which is desperately needed. We need to get serious about tackling the housing crisis, and ensuring tenants can live in decent, safe secure homes they can afford, and are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of who their landlord is, and what type of home they live in.”

Charlie Norman, Chair of Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP), said: “The Greater Manchester Housing Providers partnership (GMHP) has been privileged to work alongside tenants and partners within the Coordinating Group to develop the GM Good Landlord Charter – this consultation is so important to see if what has been drafted so far feels right. At the heart of what we do as social housing providers is the belief that everyone in Greater Manchester has the right to a decent, healthy, safe and affordable home – places where we can grow up, get on in life and age well. Having a home is just so important to all of us.” 

“Between us, our members own or manage over 250,000 affordable homes in the city region, we build one third of all new homes and we have a shared commitment to ensuring that everyone can expect respectful, inclusive and fair services.  As a partnership of the willing, we absolutely welcome the opportunity to work with the Mayor, wider stakeholders and, most importantly, tenants and residents across Greater Manchester to help further develop this charter – the first of its kind in the UK, and hopefully something that will make a positive and lasting impact for all tenants, residents and landlords across the region.”

Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), said: “The NRLA is committed to supporting the provision of high quality homes. A positive working relationship between households and their landlord is both mutually beneficial and essential for sustaining a healthy private rented sector.  

“As consultation begins on the Good Landlord Charter in Greater Manchester, we are keen to provide the perspective of residential landlords and do our part to ensure that the development of any new system works to support landlords as well as tenants. Working together with local government as well as other stakeholders will ensure that Manchester's rental system thrives." 

The Good Landlord Charter has been drafted and developed with a coordinating group, which includes Greater Manchester Housing Providers, Greater Manchester Tenants Union, Greater Manchester Student Assembly, Manchester Student Homes, National Residential Landlords Association and Shelter. Greater Manchester Housing Providers have already committed to signing up to the Charter, meaning thousands of tenants are set to benefit from improved standards. 

The Good Landlord Charter is out for public consultation from 10am on 8th January 2024 until 12pm on 26th February 2024. To respond to the consultation online or download a copy of the consultation document (including in Easy Read format), please visit www.gmconsult.org. For more information on the development of the Good Landlord Charter and to view supporting documents, please visit https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning-and-housing/good-landlord-charter

Article Published: 08/01/2024 13:10 PM