In the wake of 2024, Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and former Cabinet minister, is underlining a dedicated stance towards addressing challenges within the private rental sector. The year is set to become a pivotal moment as efforts are intensified to bring about positive changes in the realm of housing. Burnham, in his New Year message, articulates a vision for significant strides in this domain.
Commencing next week, a noteworthy initiative is slated to kick off—a public consultation on the eagerly anticipated Greater Manchester Good Landlord Charter. Acknowledging the valuable contributions of a collaborative working group comprised of tenants, landlords, and experts, Burnham expresses gratitude for their involvement in shaping this crucial charter. The collective effort invested in its formulation instills optimism in Burnham, anticipating transformative outcomes.
Central to this Charter is its potential to distinguish responsible landlords within the city-region. Burnham recognizes the multitude of decent landlords and believes that the introduction of the Charter will serve as a commendable mechanism for acknowledging their positive practices. This acknowledgment is not just a recognition but a practical step towards fostering a rental environment that prioritizes ethical and responsible conduct. As the Charter unfolds, the Greater Manchester housing landscape is poised for positive change.
Highlighting a pragmatic approach, it is acknowledged that certain individuals neglect proper treatment of tenants and fail to uphold community values. In a groundbreaking move, residents are now empowered with a more discerning ability to differentiate between responsible landlords and those who fall short. In tandem with the Charter, a significant proposal is on the horizon – granting all renters the right to request property checks. Collaborating with local councils, there is a commitment to bolster inspection and enforcement capabilities. In essence, the era of impervious bad landlords is drawing to a close.
In a subsequent interview on BBC Radio Manchester, Burnham reinforced the message by asserting that the well-being of tenants is jeopardized by landlords unwilling to invest in maintaining dilapidated properties, thereby adversely affecting entire communities. This underscores the urgency to address issues of neglect and disrepair for the overall health and vitality of residential areas.
Burnham took a firm stand on the prevailing issue where landlords, at times, receive financial support from the benefits system—essentially public funds—without reinvesting any of those resources back into their properties. This has prompted a critical evaluation of the existing landscape and a commitment to address the systemic challenges associated with the use of public money in the private rental sector. The emphasis is on rectifying a culture that, in Burnham’s view, lacks accountability and reinvestment in property upkeep.
The inception of the Good Landlord Charter dates back to Burnham’s early discussions in 2023, aligning with a commitment articulated in 2021. This proposed charter isn’t confined to a specific sector, as Burnham made it clear that it would encompass both private and social housing. The charter is envisioned as a comprehensive solution that goes beyond conventional approaches, aiming to establish meaningful connections between housing, health, wellbeing, and various other facets. Burnham’s commitment reflects a desire to pioneer a new paradigm, particularly in the Greater Manchester region, where housing issues are approached with a holistic perspective.
This proactive move by Burnham and the initiation of the Good Landlord Charter highlight Greater Manchester’s leadership in driving essential changes in the housing sector. The charter serves as a testament to the region’s dedication to forging a new path—one that addresses the multifaceted challenges associated with housing, from financial accountability to the interconnected nature of housing, health, and overall wellbeing.
“From the way he led the government response to the appalling death of Awaab Ishak in Rochdale, I know that the Secretary of State understands the importance of this, and why we need better housing, stronger enforcement, and greater accountability across the board.
“So do many partners across our city-region’s social and private rented sector – which is why we want to work with them to create a Charter that is as fair and robust as possible, and establishes a clear set of expectations for landlords and tenants.
“Our devolution journey has already enabled us to make a difference to people’s lives by integrating public services and aligning priorities right across the system. Our ongoing trailblazer talks now present an opportunity for us to work with government and go even further, with greater powers and responsibility at local level, and housing is a key priority for us in this process.”
At present, social housing providers operate under a national framework of regulatory standards, addressing economic and consumer responsibilities. Conversely, the private rented sector adheres to a distinct set of standards. Burnham’s objective is to introduce the Greater Manchester Good Landlord Charter, aiming to provide a unified roadmap for both sectors to enhance standards across all rented homes. The focus is on streamlining and unifying standards, fostering consistency in the quality of rental properties.