Thursday, 03 September 2015

PRS properties 'should meet decent homes test'

Private landlords should be forced to refurbish their homes to the equivalent of the decent homes standard, a leading Labour thinker has suggested.

Kitty Ussher, former treasury minister, made the call in an essay published by left-leaning think tank the Fabian Society, in a book entitled The Shape of Things to Come: Labour’s New Thinking, last month.

Ms Ussher said: ‘All landlords should be licensed and required to raise the quality of their homes to the decent home standard required by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

‘If they are unable to do so, they should hand over long-term management of their property to a social letting agency in return for a fixed, lower rate of return. The social lettings agency could raise funds on the open market, allocate on the basis of need and have a more supportive, community-based relationship with their tenants.’

Ms Ussher said unsuccessful Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone was correct to call for rent caps in London. She also said the only way to end inequality arising from the disparity of house prices across the country was to bring in ‘a property taxation system that is genuinely progressive’, although she concedes this would be a ‘political minefield’.  ‘Ultimately it is the only way to shift economic activity from the south-east to other regions,’ she said.

Housing minister Grant Shapps is opposed to rent controls in the private rented sector. He has repeatedly argued that the measure would lead to reduced investment in the PRS and lead to poorer quality of homes.

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