Council to promote better standards in the private housing rental sector

I believe the council should get involved in improving the overall standards and practices in the private rental housing sector in Bristol.
 
Although this is an issue that is often discussed at a national level, with central government legislation controlling the sector, it seems obvious to me that there is much that can be improved to make the whole experience of private renting in Bristol a better one. This can be achieved in the following ways:
 
1. Enforce planning and building requlations to ensure that existing rented properties, conversion of older properties for rental and new housing extensions that are aimed at the rental market, meet minimum decent standards.
 
2. Where the council does not have sufficient local powers, then implement a voluntary code of practice for landlords and letting agents. Promote this scheme, such that compliance with certain standards becomes the norm and an expected feature that prospective tenants should look for. Ideally, this will help drive out poor and unacceptable practice in private renting. This could cover aspects such as the physical living standards of a rented property, the fairness of the rent and the fees charged to tenants when they need to rent or move to anther rental property. The stamp of aproval from the council, even if not compulsory, would surely act as an incentive for the market to clean up it's act.
 
3. Deal with the obvious discrimination in the private rental sector against recipients of Housing Benefit.

Why the contribution is important

Why is this important?
 
1. A safe and stable living environment is essential to everyone, whether single or a family. It is one of the most important aspects for all of us and especially for families with children. If this is not achieved, the consequences can be detrimental and long lasting.
 
2. Bristol, like any other city, spends a large amount of money in Housing Benefit and a high proportion of this goes to the private sector. Why should the private sector get away with receiving this money and providing Bristol residents with such an obviously poor standard in many cases? The council should expect to receive excellent standards from the private sector that it effectively subsidises.
 
3. I have witnesses a steady deterioration in the housing stock in Bristol over the years, as various investors/speculators have rushed to cash in on the market with shoddy and inadequate house conversions, alterations etc, just in order to squeeze in more tenants into inadequate housing. It is not in the long term interests of Bristol residents and the city to allow this to continue. We already have a serious housing shortage and ripping apart the existing housing stock for short term gain is not in the long term interests of the city.
 
4. Housing is one of the most important issues for any council, affecting the long term happiness, stability and welfare of many people's lives. Whether it is through new local action or enforcement of existing legislation and regulations, I believe it is essential that Bristol addresses these issues.
 
Thank you

by donkey on December 03, 2013 at 02:07PM

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Comments

  • Posted by Palmerstonian December 04, 2013 at 09:09

    Hard to disagree with, but not easy to implement. A voluntary 'code of practice' would only be patchily observed, and would be impossible to enforce. The Council is limited in what it may do by lack of decent standards imposed by central government. Not all Landlords discriminate against tenants who are on benefits - in fact many landlords gear themselves up to milk the system. The benefit cap and payment of housing benefit direct to tenants will help to reduce such practices. The problem you/we have is that private rented property is part of a free market. Impose too many conditions on private landlords and the supply of homes will dwindle as they take their money elsewhere.
  • Posted by RachelP December 12, 2013 at 11:36

    Cardiff have recently implemented something to deal with landlords that behave badly (I'm trying to avoid the word 'Slum' but it sums it up pretty well). Cardiff have done the leg work, Bristol could look to them!

    Rents in Cotham on 1 bed flats have gone up £100 a month in one year. I'm lucky that my landlord hasn't raised my rent but he could. There needs to be a cap on rent increases, and a cap on what landlords can charge in rent. Buying isn't an option for me, I rely on the rental market.

    I also firmly believe too many people with a lot of money buy and rent out properties for a bit of money on the side. There should be a restriction on how many flats/houses you can own and rent out without it being your full time occupation.
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