Labour has pledged a “consumer rights revolution” which will introduce legal minimum standards for all rental homes because people currently have “fewer rights renting a family home than you do buying a fridge-freezer”.
The proposals, which the party would introduce if it wins the general election, include new standards, such as electrical safety, sanitation and cooking facilities, to ensure that homes are “fit for human habitation”, according to shadow housing secretary John Healey.
Landlords who fail to meet the “tougher” minimum standards would face fines of up to £100,000, Labour said.
Healey believes that the new proposed measures would enable tenants to “call time on bad landlords”.
The Conservatives said that the standards amounted to a “tenants’ tax” that will force up rents. But given that they have introduced a wide range of measures, which have left many landlords with little alternative but to increase rents or face financial ruin, they may be wise to concentrate on campaigning on some other issues ahead of next month’s general election, unless, of course, they are prepared to reverse the introduction of higher stamp duty costs and the phasing out of mortgage tax relief.
Healey said: “Our homes are at the centre of our lives, but at the moment renters too often don't have basic consumer rights that we take for granted in other areas.
“In practice, you have fewer rights renting a family home than you do buying a fridge-freezer.
“As a result, too many are forced to put up with unacceptable, unfit and downright dangerous housing.”
Labour’s own analysis, based on the 2014 English Housing Survey, shows that tenants in England were spending £800m a month - or £9.6bn a year - on properties that the government classed as “non-decent”.
About a quarter of this, £2.3bn a year, was paid by housing benefit, Labour said.
Healey added: “Most landlords provide decent homes that tenants are happy with, but these rogue landlords are ripping off both renters and the taxpayer by making billions from rent and housing benefit letting out sub-standard homes.”
“After seven years of failure the Conservatives have no plan to fix the housing crisis,” he added.